Saturday, January 16, 2021

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution –Real or Hype?

March 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Food Revolution

You must watch this program. For yourself and for your kids.

Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution premiered on Friday,  a show my family had been looking forward to for weeks. Usually, the promotions for these types of programs give away all the best stuff, but not in this case, not in the least.

Goal: Overhaul the school lunch program country (just as Oliver did in the UK),

Location: Huntington, West Virginia since it has been rated the unhealthiest city in the states, a title the residents are not proud of.

What is that?

Shocker: Kids are unable to identify a TOMATO and POTATO. I am serious. The first grade classroom featured showed students drawing a complete blank when Oliver holds up various veggies for a guessing game. Sad, pathetic, and just totally unacceptable in my book.

Tear Jerker:  Oliver’s innocent request that knives be provided for the children’s lunch reveals the kids have no idea how to use them because there is no need when all they are served is nuggets, pizza (for breakfast BTW!?) and other pop in your mouth junk. This was a rather profound moment, since I never really thought about this. Oliver goes on to explain that in the UK, teaching to eat with a knife and fork is simply another part of the teachers responsibility. Hmmm.

Total Gagger: When Oliver attempts an experiment that “never fails” –it fails, and fails big time with our kids.  He shows the kids a chicken, cuts off the meat and the “good parts”, and is left with the  slimy carkus and bloody guts. All the kids scream “Ewww!!” and claim they would never eat it in a million years. Yet, after Oliver grinds it up in a food processor, and forms patties out of the pink paste, you guessed it — the kids can’t wait to crunch them down. What does this say? Oliver concludes that our kids are brainwashed to eat anything that looks familiar — form the most disgusting ingredients into the right shape, and down it goes.

Pile o' crap food represents families weekly meals

Fried Feasts: The family of focus is a morbidly obese clan chained to their deep fryer which is used to make donuts in the morning, and everything else for lunch and dinner. Their freezer is literally stuffed with frozen pizzas — just frozen pizzas.  I couldn’t help but feel compassion for the mother, a lady who cried again and again throughout her segments, as if she had just grasped the gravity of the situation. Were the tears from not understanding how unhealthy the foods she was feeding her family are? Or was she crying because of the overwhelming challenge ahead of her which would require a complete and total overhaul of their lifestyle in an effort to raise “successful” children as she put it? Don’t know. All I know is watching the family made me feel conflicted — on one hand compassionate, on the other angry at what seemed so obvious — you can’t serve a pile of fried crap to your kids day in and day out and expect them not to be obese.

Disturbing: The volume of processed foods being fed to our kids, all for the sake of convenience and $. The program features seemingly healthy mashed potatoes revealed as being frozen “potato pearls,” that when stirred with water turns into a cement like,  paste tasting blah. The camera turns on the ingredients label, which is about 3 inches long, yet is totally disregarded by the lunch ladies as being “fine.” Is this fine or is this cancer waiting to happen? Why do we consume products with a list of chemical ingredients, simply because it tastes good? I don’t know about the other moms out there, but I would gladly pay triple price for my kids lunch if it meant they could get REAL food.

Potato "pearls" ready to serve

Conclusion: Since watching this show, I have been gung ho about it, searching the site for ways to get involved, signing the petition, grabbing screenshots for this post — and then what do I see? A frickin’ Oreo sponsorship!!

Is this just another American reality show that is all hype and no bite?

Let’s wait and see.



29 Responses to “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution –Real or Hype?”
  1. Lori says:

    you can’t serve a pile of fried crap to your kids day in and day out and expect them not to be obese.

    I think the problem is that that isn’t true. Many parents DO feed their children crap day in and day out and, because of the luck of the genetic draw, don’t have fat kids. My son’s best friend is being raised by a very poor, single mom who has some cognitive issues. She is a nice woman, and she does her best, especially considering that the family lives in a home with lots of other relatives and has only a tiny bit of fridge space to store food. But, her two kids literally eat NOTHING but junk. School lunches are their healthy meals of the day. Her son comes over our house after school with a bag full of a few kinds of chips, one of those Drumstick ice cream cones, and some gummy stuff, which his mom picked up for him at the liquor store on the way home from school, and that’s what he eats from the time he gets home from school until he goes to bed. Honestly I think the only time either of her kids gets a home-cooked meal or a fruit or veggie is when they eat at somebody else’s house.

    But, neither child is even remotely fat. I have no doubt there are many kids out there who are being fed a steady stream of junk food and overprocessed foods, and who don’t eat fruits or vegetables, who are thin or normal weight. We are doing these kids a huge disservice by focusing on weight rather than health, because the assumption is often made that, if a child isn’t fat, they must be fed well (and, conversely, that if they are fat, they aren’t–which another friend of my son’s, a chubby girl who eats an extremely healthy, vegetarian diet, also shows isn’t true).

    If Jamie Oliver were focusing on health rather than weight, and acknowledged that both fat AND thin kids can have unhealthy (or healthy) diets, I think he’d be doing a much greater service to viewers.

    As to school lunches, honestly the whole issue of how schools deal with food is one reason why I’m happy I homeschool. I had my son in one preschool, in an affluent white suburb, where I was told I couldn’t pack a homemade cookie as part of his snack (and basically made to feel like a bad mother for doing so). Then we moved to Detroit, my son started attending a preschool in the inner city, and I was asked if I could please start putting chips in his lunch, because all the other kids had them and he was getting upset that he didn’t. We’ve got schools feeding kids crap and schools putting kids’ BMIs on their report cards and schools basically acting like the food and body police, and I can’t help but think that we’d be better off if we just kept schools completely away from feeding and weighing and measuring our children, and instead left that to families. But, again, I know that for a lot of kids, the food they get fed in school–no matter how awful it might seem to those of us who have the resources to prepare healthy meals–is the healthiest food they eat all day, so just leaving it to families isn’t the best idea for them.

    • Jen says:

      Your reply says it perfetly… our society seriously confuses issues of weight and health. I know some pretty skinny kids who eat lots and lots and lots of nutritionless junk food and very few fruits and veggies… but they will grow up thinking they are the “good” ones because they happen to genetically not be inclined to gain weight.
      … and don’t even get me started on the school lunches my kids get… Nachos Grande?? As a lunch entree? Seriously??
      How bout we stop worrying about the obese kids in the school and start worrying about the overall nutritional quality that all of our children deserve?

  2. vitty10 says:

    I’m sure Jamie Oliver means well, but this is quickly going to turn into another round of “Let’s hate fat people for their own good.” I really wish that there was one person out there who was actually concerned about people’s health and not just their weight.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi Vitty10! Your comment really stood out to me;

      “Let’s hate fat people for their own good.”

      Is this really how it feels? From my end of the spectrum, I don’t hate any fat person, but I do believe that when someone is morbidly obese it is for their own good to lose weight…not that it is my place to tell them this though.

      In regards to the show only focused on fat rather than health, that isn’t the case actually. True, they focus on one obese family, however the rest of the show is about all school children, most who are not obese. I can though, see how focusing on a family with obesity issues gives the impression that fat is the enemy.

      • atchka says:

        You’re rational, that’s why you know it’s not your place to tell them to lose weight. But our national policies are irrational. They DO think it’s their place to tell people to lose weight.

        Morbid obesity makes up 1% of the population. The mortality rate for those in the obese BMI category is 0.1%. Do these statistics warrant the amount of hand-wringing and doomsday predictions that we’re hearing now?

        I didn’t watch the show, and I don’t plan on watching the show, but I just thought I’d chime in on what you said. People often cite the statistic that 2/3 of our country are overweight… well, from a healthcare perspective speaking, the overweight category isn’t a problem. And statistically speaking, the real quality of life and mortality issues don’t hit until a BMI of 40 (or morbid obesity). So, it’s important to know just what the stats say about our collective weight.


      • vitty10 says:

        Honestly, it does feel like that a lot of the time. I am all ears if people are genuinely interested in helping others be healthy. It would be great if people ate better and exercised more for the health benefits. But when it’s about taking these measures to prevent obesity or help people lose weight I tune out. As we all know weight doesn’t necessarily affect your health, unless we’re talking about extremes on both ends.

        And I just don’t believe that most people are actually concerned about the health of fat people. I think that, whether they admit it or not, their concern is that fat people are lazy, gluttonous, unattractive and whatever fat stereotypes you can think of.

      • living400lbs says:

        Is this really how it feels?

        Of course. Our society lays it out pretty damn easy:

        fat = disgusting
        fat people = disgusting

        The only question is why people act surprised to find that teens who think they’re fat are more likely to commit suicide. Why wouldn’t they be?

        • vitty10 says:

          That’s the same as how people are surprised to hear that gay teens have a higher suicide rate than other teens. If you’re made to feel like you’re disgusting and wrong and that you should change yourself and that you don’t matter, of course it will affect you negatively.

  3. Hey MamaV, thanks for the post! I lived in Huntington while doing an intern in college, lovely town. My hostess was (is) a vegetarian, so I enjoyed the healthy side of things while living there. Love the show. It is a disturbing thing to find out what those kids are being fed. Just like you I was shocked to see that one of the kids did not know what a potato was. It makes me want to be more proactive for my little one. I also find interesting the cultural differences Jamie sees being from a different culture. I’ve been in the States for 12 years and I am still learning. Great show, hope that change will come from us if from nowhere else.

  4. lissa10279 says:

    I wrote a post about this show on my blog, too. It was hard not to cry looking at that mom …. though I have to say the Cakesters ad just throws me for a loop! WTF?!

  5. Krystal says:

    I haven’t seen the show, but even though my two kids are not overweight, I am trying to focus on eating whole, unprocessed, vegetarian foods at our house. It is hard – and more expensive. I just want to have healthy kids who feel good about themselves, and how can you feel good (no matter what your weight) when you are eating crap?

    I intend to watch the show with gusto!

  6. Shhhh says:

    I have set my PVR to record this series. I didn’t think I’d want to, but it sucked me right in. Why? Because of Jamie’s sensitivity. He really honestly cares.

    • mamaV says:

      agreed, whether you agree with the guy or not, he believes he is doing the right thing- which I respect.

    • Lori says:

      I don’t think telling a mother she is killing her children is very sensitive. My understanding is that, even by the most conservative estimates, even the most morbidly obese people will only have a few years shorter of a lifespan than “normal” weight individuals (I don’t know where he got 14 years from, because I’ve never seen that number. I do know that even the most morbidly obese women have a longer lifespan than the fittest men, but I don’t see people telling moms they are killing their children by daring to have boys. ;)). It seems unnecessarily upsetting to tell a mother that she is killing her children under those circumstances.

      Maybe he really cares, maybe he’s just after money/ratings. I don’t know. But I don’t think his berating a mother over what she feeds her kids and making her cry by telling her she is killing them is demonstrating any kind of sensitivity.

  7. rach says:

    you like him? you can have him. Keep him off our backs, for god’s sake.

    He’s nothing but self-serving, hypocritical, faux-righteous, money-grubbing, attention-seeking, socially-damaging arsehole.

    He has done NOTHING to improve kids’ diets over here. All he has done is fleeced the british taxpayers of £1B — yes, £1B! for very little benefit.

    And he’s encouraged the righteous ‘public health’ lobbyists to ban yet more stuff and apply impossible ‘standards’ and ‘controls’ in their ravening desire to dictate everything about our lives.

    His intentions may have been good once upon a time but he’s part of the Gestapo now.

  8. when i watched the show i thought how ironic the commercials were for processed foods during it. but really an oreo sponsorship that’s too much!! I am thankful for the show. Atleast its getting the average person more informed. i felt totally vindicated watching with my mom…she was seeing that I’m not just some extremist…the lifestyle changes I am promoting ARE IMPORTANT.

  9. atchka says:

    I highly recommend the book “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.” Freaking out about our food is not helpful. Learning how to eat is more important, and something we, as a nation, have been neglecting for decades.

    If you can both afford, and have time to prepare, fresh, whole foods, go for it. But if you are hamstrung by time or budgetary constraints, then processed food is not a death sentence. You can prepare a nutritionally sound meal using processed foods IF you apply the proper principles.


    • Lori says:

      You can prepare a nutritionally sound meal using processed foods IF you apply the proper principles.

      Yes. The thing I find so surprising is that it seems like we think processed food was invented in the 90s, or maybe even later. People have been eating diets heavy on processed foods since the 1950s. And, given the lore of the obesity epidemic, back in the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s, nobody was fat, so obviously they were eating right. The whole hysteria over processed foods is very new, and I think we’re looking at the wrong thing. Sure, it’s probably better to eat more whole, unprocessed foods, but we’re still healthier as a nation than we were before the advent of processed foods.

      One thing I don’t understand is why more effort isn’t being put into making convenient, prepackaged nutritious meals that can feed a family. There’d be a huge market for that, I imagine. I’ve currently got a newborn and a dislocated tailbone (my husband and I apparently make babies with freakishly large heads, who don’t fit very well through my normal-sized pelvis), and I would LOVE some healthy, inexpensive, very non-labor-and-time-intensive options for meals. I’m lucky that, while my parents were here, my mom and I bagged up a bunch of freezer meals, but that required both freezer space and money that many people don’t have.

      And I just want to add, because I always feel the need to when the subject of “childhood obesity” comes up, that it drives me crazy that we NEVER consider that maybe a major (if not THE major) cause of the small increase in the average weight of children we saw in the 1990s was due to the massive rise in the use of prescription medications by kids. Many prescription medications have weight gain as a side effect, and many of the drugs prescribed to kids were not adequately tested on children. So many kids (as well as adults, particularly women) were medicated in the 1990s and 2000s for things like ADHD, mood disorders, asthma, and other chronic conditions that I honestly think that that alone could explain the “obesity epidemic” far better than kids eating processed food, since they’ve been eating processed foods for a few generations now.

      • atchka says:

        You know, I hadn’t even considered the pharmacological impact. That is definitely worth exploring. You’ve inspired me. Thanks!

        After reading the book I mentioned (it’s by Ellyn Satter, btw), I can’t help but wonder what impact our dieting culture (which began in the early 70s) has had on our waistlines. She makes a compelling case that parents who impose certain guidelines on eating (restricting their fat children, pushing food on their thin children) will damage a child’s natural internal regulation and either that child will go on to develop some form of an eating disorder. Either they won’t eat enough and grow poorly or they will eat too much and grow quickly. The thing she stresses is watching the growth curve… if it stays consistent (i.e., your child remains int he 95th percentile for years), then everything’s okay. But if your child’s growth deviates from it’s path, then there may be something wrong.

        Anyway, I’ve interview two women now, my wife and Mary Jo Pehl, for my podcast, both of whom talk about being put into Weight Watchers and put on various diets and how it completely screwed up their relationship with food. I wonder how many fat women have experienced this same thing.


      • atchka says:

        I did a little digging into the pharmaceutical possibility and wrote about it here… not quite what I was hoping for.


      • living400lbs says:

        I’ve read that some processed foods that went mainstream in the 50s were originally developed in the 30s and 40s to survive WWII, such as dried potatoes and spam.

        Even canning was originally an invention of the French military under Napoleon, and skyrocketed during WWI.

  10. .C. says:

    I am personally looking forward to living off my university campus next year in large part because it will allow me to further reduce my mandatory meal plan. The food here can be healthy, but sometimes it seems the healthier it is the more expensive it is. A piece of plain cheese pizza (full of grease and with white crust) is $2.19. A cup of non fat greek yogurt with 16 grams of protein, however, is $2.00. I am fortunate because I have pretty frequent access to a grocery off campus so I can buy healthy foods more cheaply there and use my meal plan dollars where I can here, but for students who need to eat all meals in the campus dining halls, they have a hard time.

    I would also like to say a word in favor of taking the emphasis off weight and onto health. I had a friend in high school named .D. When people would say, “So, what are you doing after school today?” he would frequently respond, “Well, I’m going to sit on my ass and play warcraft all afternoon, eat a box of ho hos, and I’m gonna LOSE three pounds!” And he would. He just had a weird metabolism. That didn’t make him healthy. Likewise my very good friend .J., who is about 5′ 9″ and 112 lbs, eats as much as he possibly can and looks dangerously emaciated, despite eating about 7,000 – 8,000 calories a day of pretty healthy food by my estimation. Weight is linked in large part to metabolism, but health and the nutrients we get are linked to food.

    Lastly, a personal step: I usually drink my coffee black, but when I wanted sugar in the past I would use an artificial sweetener. The last time I wanted sugar in my coffee I used natural turbinado sugar, and did not freak out. I’m feeling pretty good about my eating habits and am looking forward to living an even healthier lifestyle in the future!


  11. Nell says:

    I can’t watch the show here (obviously), but…

    I grew up on Jamie Oliver food. I can’t say his idea is all wrong- I remember being in first grade and my classmates saying that milk came from “a factory” or “the carton”. When we visited an organic farm for an excursion, three or four of them started wailing how dirty everything was and how stinky the cows were and that they wouldn’t drink milk anymore because it wasn’t clean. Chocolate milk was fine, though. HUH?

    What I read about his UK program, a lot of it was ineffectual and aimed at the most media exposure possible, but I can’t fault the guy for trying (plus a lot of his recipes are great and easy to make). When people who live in garden-studded suburbs stare dumbfounded at kids climbing a mango tree, picking ripe fruit, peeling and eating them that is just plain wrong. No matter what, it’s wrong, and kudos to Jamie Oliver for attempting to change that.

  12. Kelly M says:

    thank you for posting a synopsis of this show.
    I do believe that the real point of the program is to break down the lies and disinformation, to bring awareness and responsibility to the table for every meal. I do not however believe that ABC gives a crap about who eats what, money is money and i really doubt they care who gets hurt.
    It seems much like a similar situation to Stephen Colbert/ comedy central, he often points out the ick factor of his sponsors in what i can only assume is an attempt to induce a bit of consciousness in his viewers.

    i have seen both episodes of Jamie’s show thus far and i admire the mans passion and how determined he seems to be, i can only hope it continues and people get the message.

  13. immokalee says:

    There was a big stink on a national email list for community food researchers about how the producers of Oliver’s show refused to talk to many food activists, university researchers, and educators in community food systems who reached out to them. The show producers wanted to make it look like Jamie was the sole person out there doing this kind of work, and the fact is he’s late to the party. The general feeling from people working for food system change is that Oliver is doing more harm than good – by making human beings look like morons, by patronizing people, and by ignoring the VAST number of grassroots organizations who have been working hard to create to revolution he desires. Insiders in the business of food system change have been working hard for years to undo the image of finger-waggling snobbery and elitism that Oliver is just about to slather all over the TV. Thanks a lot, dude, but no thanks!

    Revolution, not revulsion.

  14. FatNSassy says:

    Oliver is a pathetic creature who is using this “obesity crisis” to get attention. Exploitation is what talentless people do when they have no other means of getting in the spotlight. If anyone really falls for his Jerry Springer tactics, they have far bigger problems than weight. It is exactly that kind of blind trust in con men that has lead to the social mess we are in now. From misguided faith in politicians to priests, people need to grow up and see how their own guilt is a tool of manipulation that is perpetually being used against them. Yet they jump from one con to another. Sickening!

  15. Kris Carey says:

    There are three sides to every story (yours, mine, and the truth) and I suspect that’s the case with Jamie’s show. His side and “their side” are probably both a little off the truth of the town’s situation. Still, I side with Jamie if I need to take a side.

    As the mother of two young, school-aged children (in Maryland), I was horrified and practically in tears at various points in the show. We have never allowed our kids to buy school lunches (we’re those “obnoxious” parents who buy mostly organic and, horrors, are vegetarian as well) and this show reinforced that decision. Our school lunches here in Maryland are no better than the ones shown in the show. I refuse to let my kids eat it.

    I only hope that his show helps individual parents realize that THEY need to make decisions about what their children eat — at home and at school. And if the show helps expose the ridiculousness of the USDA food requirements, then all the better.


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