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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” can be hard to digest

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“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” which airs Fridays on ABC, is the oddest of mash-ups — part celebrity-chef hagiography, part reality TV straining with hackneyed tension, part underreported documentary, and 100 percent agitprop.

It also makes you gape, cry and consider the ugliness and horrors of our broken food supply system.

Repeating the work he has done with the British school lunch system, Oliver has chosen to film his six-week series in the town of Huntington, W.Va., a city that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has singled out as one of the most obese in the nation.

Oliver blows into town dressed like a giant, tragically hair-moussed pea and talking of “revolution.” Children giggle, adults take umbrage.

Oliver’s mission, after two episodes, appears to be threefold. The first, most dramatically rich, involves his attempts to remake the school breakfast and lunch programs at Central City Elementary School. Here we get pure reality TV boilerplate: the challenges, the time restraints, the will-they-or-won’t-they-eat-it tension. A nemesis? Of course! School cook Alice Gue — a woman who could scare the cigarette out of the Simpsons’ lunch lady’s mouth — pits her dessicated “Potato Pearls” against Oliver’s peeler.

At the school Oliver indulges in TV-ready stunts, such as dumping a mountain of animal fat on the school lawn and telling the kiddies that they consumed that last year. He also takes a basket of fresh veggies to a classroom, and the kids can’t identify one — not even the potato.

His second goal is to establish a cooking center in town, where he can teach kids and adults to prepare fresh food. Here, Oliver performs a stunt that grossed out British kids. He purees a chicken carcass, bones and all, to show a group of wide-eyed children how nuggets are made. To his surprise, these American kids are all too happy to eat the pureed, meal-thickened chicken nastiness once they are cut into cute nuggets and fried.

For his third goal, Oliver tries to remake the cooking habits of the morbidly obese Edwards family. Not surprisingly, these people eat mostly fried food and pizza — a fact made manifest when Oliver piles a week’s worth of unhealthy meals in a revolting pile on the kitchen table. Not content to stop there, he brings the whole family to the hospital, where 12-year-old son Justin (who easily tops 300 pounds) is diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Justin — a sweet, smart kid — admits he is bullied constantly at school. He also appreciates Oliver’s fresh, flavorful food and shows a flair for cooking. Here’s where Oliver’s heart melts, and so does yours.

75 comments Add your comment

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Anna

March 31st, 2010
9:36 am

Thanks for the review. I was fascinated by the clips I saw online, but didn’t watch Friday night because I can’t bear seeing folks humiliated or in conflict. Oliver’s intentions seem fabulous, but the whole TV circus aspect dilutes what’s probably a big core of altruism. I hope Justin loses weight, gains a career and a much longer lifespan, and that Huntington is a healthier place in the end. Maybe I’ll watch online after it’s all over.

LSK

March 31st, 2010
9:54 am

I think this show is great Kudos to Jamie for takig on this issue, terrifying yet something that needs to be address in this country.

Curious George

March 31st, 2010
10:30 am

Isn’t Britain supposed to be asking for OUR HELP for something instead of offering it?

Sorka

March 31st, 2010
11:00 am

I read about Oliver’s efforts in England (where they also struggle with a carb-laden, fresh-veggie-lacking traditional food culture) to improve the school food offerings. This is an uphill battle. Although his cheekiness may annoy many people, the underlying message is very important. School lunch is a very unhealthy, unpleasant affair. Too many families today do not eat together at all, and when they do, they eat very bad, unhealthy food that is not fresh. Eating habits learned as a youngster stay with you for many, many years. Bad habits are hard to break!

Mr. Obvious

March 31st, 2010
11:05 am

If it were not for American Soldiers raised on American Diet, Mr. Oliver would be munching on bratwurst and sauerkraut for his “healthy” diet and speaking German.

Just give me a G&T

March 31st, 2010
11:21 am

Thank you, Mr. Obvious for that completely inane contribution to the conversation.

Now, back to the discussion for the adults… Oliver’s intentions are good. He comes across as preachy, and his understanding of the realities of cooking for hundreds of children each day is, at best, weak. However, if he can help that young man, Justin, and his family, he’ll have made a positive difference. He’s not going to make much of a difference in the school lunch program, regardless of how the TV producers make it appear by the end of the series.

Kar

March 31st, 2010
11:38 am

Unfortunately he does have that Alice Waters “let them eat organic vegetables” vibe that comes across as condescending to the “peasants.” For me his message would be more palatable if it were less confrontational/waging war and more of a gentle steering of general habits and patterns.

It’s hard to take seriously a millionaire who has minions caring for their organic gardens telling inner city people who can barely afford a room let alone a garden to spend what free time they have to nurture a garden just so the local crack addicts can steal the produce.

Joanna

March 31st, 2010
11:47 am

Interesting study just done on how fast/junk foods are addicting in lab rats – so the ones raised on these foods refuse to eat healthy foods even if faced with starvation. If humans react in a similar fasion, the battle will be a long uphill one for anyone trying to combat this epidemic.

Florida mom

March 31st, 2010
11:52 am

Jamie I applaud your efforts here in the US and hope you do make a difference!! I loved your show, keep up the good work and hope you come to Florida sometime!!

chef Tom Minchella

March 31st, 2010
11:52 am

I agree with Kar!! More needs to be done! http://cheftomminchella.blogspot.com/

John Kessler

March 31st, 2010
12:02 pm

I watched the shows on Hulu.com, and found them riveting. The enterprise seems flawed, but I don’t get the sense he is “preachy.” Rather he is using his celebrity to cast a light on the overlooked obvious. What I want is better film making — I’d like to know more about local agriculture in that lush, beautiful place and more understanding of how the food chain isolates these people. Whatever you think of his methods, Oliver has devised a very inclusive discourse.

Greasy Fryup

March 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Hi Kar,

I think some of it is deliberately made a little more confrontational for “entertainment reasons”. However, let’s be honest – some drastic action has to be taken here.

Also Jamie Oliver can definitely grate a little. But to give the guy credit he has put his money where his mouth is. He set up an organization called “15″ which helps kids from troubled backgrounds get trained in the restaurant industry and the UK version of this program secured government funding to increase the quality of food offered in school lunches.

bevino

March 31st, 2010
12:15 pm

Wow. I can’t believe some of the first comments on here are slightly anti-UK. Do you guys like anyone? By the way, the diet of the American Soldier WWII is different than today. Obama has been trying to relieve Burger King of their duties of serving our soldiers in Afghanistan. I don’t think there were whoppers in Normandy. Anyway, Mr. Oliver is bringing much needed attention to the food industry in the West. We eat fake food out of fake containers and we wonder why we all are diabetic,heart disease ridden, and dying of cancer. I dont’ care if he does come across as preachy. The American public needs to be preached to- “YOU ARE FAT” And I am not sure how one cannot afford a garden if they have any land to tend….the seeds cost $1 a pack.(apartment dwellers have a challenge) Our food has changed more in 50 years than in 5,000. How can any of you justify cost of food versus cost of healthcare for the modified garbage you put down your throat? Be aware of what you put in your mouth three times a day. You wan to complain about the quality of our food? You have a chance to vote against bad food three times a day.Pay now or pay later. Thanks Kessler for the article and thank you Britain for being our ally! Not all Americans are self righteous yanks who think other countries must grovel for our deeds in the Word Wars that now justify our imperialism.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matt DeRobertis. Matt DeRobertis said: Atlanta Journal reports Jamie Oliver's new show is hard to digest. Excuse the pun | http://bit.ly/98pgbt [...]

RK

March 31st, 2010
12:41 pm

bevino, don’t feed the troll.

Anna, you should watch it. It isn’t belittling at all. Jamie is not there to mock the family or the school.

CleartheBall

March 31st, 2010
12:43 pm

I have enjoyed Jamie Oliver from the original naked chef. I agree he is a little preachy, but I think we need more preaching. Our kids are eating more junk and moving less than ever before. I am a parent of 6 and I appreciate what Jamie is trying to do. If we can give our children better habits now, we can give them a more successful life.

David S

March 31st, 2010
12:46 pm

What is sad is that Jamie doesn’t understand the economics of how the school lunch program got so disgusting – government as always.

Subsidies to the dairy industry, the meet industry, the wheat industry, specific farmers, the corn industry, the corn sweetener industry, and the like all contribute to the selection of the garbage that gets served at these schools.

Add to that the zero tollerance (intelligence) that now pervades so many schools and you find no knives or forks to eat with, no sack lunches allowed, no recess or playgrounds, mandatory drugging of students for being kids, and the like.

Jamie is at least trying. Americans have been brainwashed by a collusion of the USDA, the packaged food industry, the government schools, and the media into believing that no matter what you do to food, it is nutritious at the end of the process. This is simply not true. I certainly applaud Jamie for his efforts. Britain is just as much of a totalitarian/fascist society, and he really should have known better before making this kind of attempt.

Scott

March 31st, 2010
1:15 pm

Its a great show if only for the conflict of Jamie v Alice (the sterotypical lunch lady). Please doent compare Mr. Oliver to Alice Waters as she thinks everyone has a plot of land to plant thier own food and fry an egg over an open flame in your kitchen. She is a pretentious wacko not in touch with the reality of the common nuclear family.

jonnymack

March 31st, 2010
1:24 pm

I stumbled upon this show over the weekend. Definitely worthy of watching. As a parent of a toddler, it makes me cringe to see what they are making the kids eat and how inflexible they are in changing anything. We have a health epidemic in this country yet do nothing to change it. Everyone should at least check this show out.

thies

March 31st, 2010
1:29 pm

“If it were not for American Soldiers raised on American Diet, Mr. Oliver would be munching on bratwurst and sauerkraut for his “healthy” diet and speaking German.”

Funny on two counts:
a) the 1940’s american diet is *nothing* like the processed fastfood industry of today
b) sauerkraut and bratwurst would be healthier than McD, BK, Dominos, Walmart frozen food aisles etc

Kar

March 31st, 2010
1:35 pm

Someone mentioned his work program. For better or worse, I understand that it’s not exactly the reality of the situation despite good intentions. I also found it kind of predictable that after “revolutionizing” the British school lunches so that they don’t serve pies, there’s a black market of pies along the schoolyard fence. Women basically sell homemade pies to the kids who don’t want to eat his healtheir menu.

GOD

March 31st, 2010
2:04 pm

1. Jamie is on my side- be careful what you say
2. Respect your father and mother… and your food.
3. If you eat shit you are shit
4. Say no to processed food
5. Say yes to good quality fresh food
6 Learn to cook
7. Appreciate the good things in life
8. Ask why you are presented with food that kills you
9. Change yourself
10.Change the world

Maria

March 31st, 2010
4:25 pm

I did watch this show and it was brilliant. He did not make fun of anyone and the fact that anyone could look at what they feed children in school and not be horrified is atrocious. Schools are allowed to count a condiment – catsup – as a vegetable. Children are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents. We all should be up in arms about this. I loved the show and have been recommending it to EVERYONE I know. This is a must see.

ren

March 31st, 2010
4:35 pm

I’m tired of the same old responses by some…. “If it were not for American Soldiers raised on American Diet, Mr. Oliver would be munching on bratwurst and sauerkraut for his “healthy” diet and speaking German.”

Get over it, stop using WWII and the industrialization boom as Americas superiority over the rest of the world. America is dwindling on a lot of fronts these days. The guy is just trying to help in a cause that has become a very pressing issue in terms of health, health care, costs to society, and productivity. I think there are a lot of things other countries are doing that we should perhaps heed too. We need to consider these suggestions with open arms!

Lauren

March 31st, 2010
6:56 pm

I am a student in nutrition and food at Texas State University and I was happy to hear someone was hitting this nation hard with reality. You should come to San Antonio, Texas called “the fattest city” in the nation. I was embarrassed to see that our kids in the United States did not know how to use flatware correctly or knew about the fruits and vegetables. Lets change the education curriculum so kids can decide to eat healthy on their own.

mikes

March 31st, 2010
8:30 pm

I cannot believe some of the negatives comments on what Jamie is trying to do, yes it is a bit cringe worthy and cheesy, but what is trying to do is save lives. Those people who make such negative comments are just idiots, and do not care either about themselves, or their loved ones. I visited the USDA site once to get some healthy recipe tips, thinking that the richest country on the planet may have some useful advise and was shocked to read completely the reverse.

Someone in government needs to take a stand, the USDA needs a major revamp, then the kids of tomorrow will not be living until they are 30 years and hopefully the obesity problem will diminish.

Its corporate america that is killing the nation and people getting rich off the feeding of crap food to the nation.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article7080355.ece

Jaime in Florida

March 31st, 2010
8:57 pm

Jamie, you’re awesome!!! this is a HUGE change we need in our country. This is coming from a girl who grew up FAT in the food system, i was let down by the school system and the food served by crappy Fast Food locations. we are missing out on what food is used for. NOURISHMENT not a hobby or pleasure. THANKS for all you’re doing! Keep up the awesome work. These are the kids we are going to be dependent on in the future to run our country and keep our society going. If anyone has a problem with health they are IDIOTS and should move to a 3rd world country.

volli

March 31st, 2010
9:57 pm

America is lazy,fat, and indulgent…I am a nurse in the operating room where we cut open all these fatties every FREAKING day!!! I am so glad Jamie is taking on this emotionally charged issue…we must get back to basics, and eat food that is good for us…not full of cancer,diabetes causing poisins!

convinced

March 31st, 2010
10:04 pm

After watching this show, I would like to congratulate Mr Oliver, for bringing this much needed information to our country. I would also suggest that you people that contribute negatives to this program, read the “China Study”, which is available in book stores everywhere. You will be amazed…..and you will see what the “western diet” is doing to our citizens…

Iapplaudyureffortjamie

March 31st, 2010
10:53 pm

Bravo Mr. Oliver
My children wept watching the plight of the near diabetic boy and his family…The entire family is sick from what they consume and it is heart breaking to witness… They are like so many families in this country. In our house we choose to cook fresh nightly because we know we are just as easily to become ill from the processed foods out there… We have relatives who have had heart attacks who have suffered from gout and diabetes and hypertension, stomach cancer and breast cancer and and we know we could easily be yet another be statistic. Excessive fat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, processed corn products, sodium and chemicals are killing our population. “America the Beautiful” … Walk in any mall or on any street these days and see the enormity of the problem in the waistlines of our population. If Jamie meets resistance it is a crying shame…I urge them to edit this (he swears a bit too much for most young kids ) and show it at elementary every school. He may not win over the women in the lunch room but he may start a real revolution if he continues teaching young kids to say no to the processed food they are being fed at home and in school that will kill at a young age.

Diane

April 1st, 2010
10:17 am

You know I hope he has as much success, (scare tactics or not) here as he did in the UK, the show he made there did spark a revolution, a petition to parliament and talked about at question time, the minister of education had to move pretty fast to cope with the mounting parent & media pressure to change the diet in the schools, it took a while but I actually saw this happen in the schools within a year of the Jamie show,good luck Jamie! you are fighting the great brain washing of a generation by the fast food companies who supply those schools with lucrative contracts…
lets vote for health and vitality over convenience, speed and profit!

Steve

April 1st, 2010
10:20 am

This is a great summary of what has happened so far. I caught the first two episodes on abc.com. It was an all too familiar story, though. I think the biggest oversight in the show so far is in its naivety.It paints the picture that just giving people the information, or piling food on a kitchen table, will get people to change their wicked eating ways. Obesity and the psychological connection between eating a lack of control are recalcitrant problems with very complex causes. Surprisingly, a lack of information or awareness is not at the root of the issue. Think about it, how many times have you heard some really good advice, or saw the “red flag” in a situation, then completely ignored your better judgment. Notwithstanding all of the advice, red flags, difficulty breathing, sleep apnea, asthma, diabetes, or heart disease risks our food and health care systems’ make the plight of a family like the Edwards all the more difficult. One of the most incomplete ideals in this country is the adage that one must “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”, meaning that every starts with the same advantages, privileges, and circumstances, and personal choices are the only determinants of success. I believe that in this country it is not all about personal choices – the systems in place determine the choices that people have to make (and the ones they don’t have to make) unequal. However, I am so impressed with the work that Jamie is doing to erase a lack of knowledge from the list of reasons this population is suffering. I look forward to witnessing the story as it unfolds.

TashaRN

April 1st, 2010
10:41 am

I applaud Jamie’s effort to make changes and draw attention to how the US eats, and I hope his show makes millions of people uncomfortable. It is only when a person is uncomfortable that they make a change….in any aspect of life. Watching the show has prompted me to make changes in my own diet and what I teach my patients. Thanks Jamie!!!!! Your message isn’t falling on death ears.

Grand mom, Nonnie

April 1st, 2010
10:47 am

Love, love this young man!

eddie cogliano fsd

April 1st, 2010
11:12 am

Finally a show that gets it . You hit the nail right on the head. I’ve been in charge of school lunch for years and have worked around the gov food program only using solid meat products and no processed food very hard to do for $2.50 per student but can be done if your workers are trained and care about more then there pay checks.I hope you make everyone understand it starts at home. Thanks

Margaret

April 1st, 2010
12:45 pm

“I did watch this show and it was brilliant. He did not make fun of anyone and the fact that anyone could look at what they feed children in school and not be horrified is atrocious. Schools are allowed to count a condiment – catsup – as a vegetable. Children are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents. We all should be up in arms about this. I loved the show and have been recommending it to EVERYONE I know. This is a must see.”

AMEN

volli

March 31st, 2010
9:57 pm

“America is lazy,fat, and indulgent…I am a nurse in the operating room where we cut open all these fatties every FREAKING day!!! I am so glad Jamie is taking on this emotionally charged issue…we must get back to basics, and eat food that is good for us…not full of cancer,diabetes causing poisins!”

THIS IS MY FAVORITE COMMENT AND IT GETS A DOUBLE AMEN!!

THIS SHOW SHOULD BE REQUIRED WATCHING IN ALL CLASSROOMS ACROSS THIS BIG, FAT NATION.

Meg

April 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

My confusion comes from the focus on Jamie. Who cares whether he seems this or that? I understand how hard it can be to have an outsider offer advice, but you’ve got to step away from your personal position for a moment. All he’s asking is this. “Do you want your children to have healthier lunches that will improve their overall health and education?” How could anyone say no or be offended by this effort?

Susan

April 1st, 2010
2:03 pm

I watched part of one episode, where Jamie dumped fat from a dump truck and filled a big tarp with chocolate milk (milk filled with sugar). I was really moved by what he is trying to do…a huge project and seemingly impossible, to change the eating habits of America. The food manufacters are partly to blame because almost everything is processed and those items are the ones that have catchy ads on TV to captivate our youth. I volunteered at a food bank last night here in California, packing food, presumbly for the homeless people on the streets. The entire very large warehouse room that we were packing into smaller boxes, was filled with nothing but processed food. I was really disturbed as I was packing boxes that would give nothing with nutritional value to the homeless on the streets. A very sad situation. I don’t have any solution to this very large problem, but three cheers for Jamie for tackling it! If he wants my help, he can call!

Holly

April 1st, 2010
2:33 pm

No knives or forks in that lunchroom!

Jamie was dead on when he asked what message the school was sending by serving only food meant to be eaten with a spoon or your fingers.

I was happy to see the principal and teachers showing the kids how to use a knife and fork. Who else is going to teach them?

Cerberus

April 1st, 2010
3:57 pm

WW2? Seriously? I thought the USA joined the war because they were attacked by the Japanese not just to help the British. BTW I guess the hundreds of British soldiers killed and thousands injured in Iraq and Afghanistan count for nothing. Also, WW2 started in 1939 not 1941 when the USA joined, prior to that Britain was fighting by herself.

mother of 2

April 1st, 2010
4:14 pm

Has anyone here read what ws done AFTER the series in UK – millions of British pounds was put into the school by the government to help deal with this. Jamie is into this project from his heart – he truely wants to help..is shocking people the way to go..maybe.
As for the making of the chicken nuggets part – as he said this is not how they are made in USA – but WERE being made that way else where.
Here is a guy trying to help – he does a load fo other things that most people are probably not aware of. He is a father and cares about his kids – he found a problem and figured out how he can help…lets follow his lead…not diss him for trying to help people one need better eating habits.

CB

April 1st, 2010
5:03 pm

Jamie has a long standing commitment to help others. He knows that his success has given him the chance to make a difference and he does it. He doesn’t sit around talking nonsense like the nut bag talking about WWII. His restaurant 15 trains troubled kids to be chefs. He tackled the school lunch situation in England and got Tony Blair to write a whopping big check. He does stuff. So, if you are not doing anything, but sitting on your fat ass then SHUT UP. You should be ashamed of yourself.

cj

April 1st, 2010
6:33 pm

Has anyone read the new reports on school lunches? It seems that chicken deemed unacceptable by KFC is sent to school lunch nuggets instead. Hard to imagine something so awful that Kentucky fried chicken doesn’t even want it considering that they are junk already.

k

April 1st, 2010
7:10 pm

i’m still laughing at G&T. good answer to the german comment.

Lorraine

April 1st, 2010
7:33 pm

Yes, Mr. Obvious is completely that, plain, and obviously stupid as hell. Obviously he doesn’t know history. It is disgusting to read about idiots who ‘want’ to sound intelligent but haven’t a clue what they are blabbering about, so they cloud the issue at hand. I applaud Jamie’s efforts. I think anyone who does not see the correlation between ‘fast food’ that is served so routinely in our schools and the overwhelming number of overweight and obese children/people. My daughter once said to me, if healthy food was made more available and was cheaper, more people would be apt to eat it. Instead, basically crap food is held together with multiple additives and chemicals. Why, are there so many more children with food allergies, Autism, ADHD, and ADD? It’s a really sad state of affairs that in America today, this is considered “Normal”. Bravo to Jamie and all who have the intent to really help America. It does start with the children. Bravo and best of luck.

Mr. Obvious

April 2nd, 2010
10:58 am

If it were not for American Housewives raised on poor diets, lack of education, obesity, lack of exercise who don’t get enough attention, Lorraine would not be so angry, confused, infatuated with Jamie Oliver and have so many unresolved personal issues with American men who haven’t loved her as much as she thinks she deserves.

Lorraine drove her minivan to the polls just to vote for Bill Clinton because of how much he “cared” for her….. twice.

Someone get that lady a G&T!

max

April 2nd, 2010
9:44 pm

Steamboatschoolfood.com

RealityBitesBack

April 3rd, 2010
3:11 am

This one is especially for Mr. Obvious…open up a book and do some research before making comments like this…
“If it were not for American Soldiers raised on American Diet, Mr. Oliver would be munching on bratwurst and sauerkraut for his “healthy” diet and speaking German.”
Yoohoo…portion sizes in this country have tripled in the last fifty years! A kids meal at McDonalds today is the same as what a LARGE value meal was fifty years ago! Let that sink in…what we fed grown adults fifty years ago is what we are feeding our developing children now. Still got a problem with this guy? Here’s some more…1 in 3 children has diabetes. Of those children, 1 out of every 2 is a minority. Or, if you don’t care about minorities, the modern American military is the FATTEST it has ever been, to the point that hospitals and VA Centers are treating more weight-related health issues than every known war combat wound (including traumatic brain injuries). I don’t know about you, but I am ABSOLUTELY disgusted with being the fattest, laziest, most spoiled nation in the world. I am so proud to be an American and I will be damned if I am going to sit idly by and let the USDA kill my generation off slowly with FOOD no less and you know what…you should be too.

[...] how they can be part of a solution for resolving food equity issues. So naturally, I watched some of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution which seems to be an awkward take on food justice [...]