ABC aired a special preview of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last night. I missed it, but watched it on Hulu earlier with Silly Sissy. I had intended to take a productivity break and watch it, then I logged into Facebook and saw a message from her asking if I was going to be online and if I wanted to watch it with her. I responded and told her I’d be around and settled down to work on our taxes in the meantime.
I am so glad she asked me to watch it with her. We both got emotional. Crying. Yelling. Grrrring. Cussing. Yes, we were both dropping the f-bomb at the end of the episode. Jamie has taken on a giant task of changing our food culture in America. He is spending time away from his wife and children to do this because it is something he believes in. If he can transform the British school food program, he can help us do it here, too. It’s just hard not to be emotional watching him speak from the heart and getting walls thrown up in front of him. I posted on his fan page in Facebook, thanking him for what he is doing and you should see all the thank yous from fans. It made me start crying all over again because I know I’m not alone.
Jamie chose to start in Huntington, West Virginia. America’s unhealthiest city according to statistics based on the death rates. The show started with Jamie being interviewed by radio dj, Rod Willis, who said rather pointedly to Jamie, “I don’t want to be eating lettuce all day.” Seriously? Lettuce? Since changing my diet I think I’ve bought lettuce once. This is how uneducated a lot of us are about food. There is so much more to eating healthy than lettuce. Mr. Willis was pretty much a jerk and his attitude was one of “Who are you to come here and tell us what we’re doing wrong?” I have to add, Mr. Willis didn’t look so healthy himself. And he wasn’t the only one with that attitude either.
Jamie attended church at First Baptist Church and was able to sit down and talk to the pastor, Steve Willis. Pastor Willis took out the directory and pointed out member who had died of obesity related medical conditions. He wasn’t turning pages and pointing them out either. They were all on the same page! He pointed out what seemed like 10 before turning the page. Can you imagine that?
Jamie is working with one of the families, the Edwards, that attends First Baptist Church. It was jaw dropping to see him give them a visual. He worked with the mother to fix breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that the family would eat and piled it all up on the table. It was a sea of golden brown. Doughnuts, corn dogs, pizza, chips. It was just gross! To think I used to eat that stuff. A very powerful visualization indeed. He even had them bury their deep fryer since it was something the mother openly acknowledged it was the one small kitchen appliance that was used the most. One of the kids was able to talk about wanting to change, to be healthy, and to lose weight. Such an amazing opportunity for this family. He helped them out with a menu for a week and cooked dinner with them and was teaching one of the sons how to cook.
The bulk of the show was spent on his time at Central City Elementary School, where they agreed to let him come in and try to make change. I don’t know why they agreed since the cooks, the Principal and a lady from the county school system was fighting him at every turn. His first day there, the kids were having pizza, cereal and milk for breakfast. Apparently there was fruit, too, but I didn’t see any on their trays. Most of the kids had chocolate or strawberry milk. Can you say SUGAR? Then lunch was chicken nuggets, “mashed potatoes”, fruit, fresh bread, and baked beans. It was a veritable sea of brown and white for breakfast and lunch. Several of the kids told Jamie they had chicken nuggets or chicken fingers for dinner the night before when he was asking them at lunch. Then there was the waste. The kids were really only eating the chicken nuggets and the dipping sauces. The rest was waste.
He dug further while helping the cooks fix lunch and asked when they were going to start peeling the potatoes for mashed potatoes. They all just looked at him and laughed. They introduced him to “potato pearls.” He asked them if it was real potatoes. One of the cooks said, “I hope so.” YOU HOPE SO? The cooks aren’t even paying attention to what is in the “food” they are serving the kids. He brought out a box of frozen chicken and showed them the ingredients. It was full of sugar and chemicals and crap. They all said they were okay with serving it to the kids. I’m no okay with it and they aren’t MY kids, but it’s my tax money that’s feeding them. Silly Sissy brought up the school menu for her kids while we were watching and it was similar. I know the lunches here are the same, too. Mind boggling. Yes, that crap is cheap, but it’s killing us and the kids!
His second day at the school he was able to fix what he wanted as long as he went by the guidelines. When he brought in fresh, raw chicken, you would have thought he wheeled in the plague the way the cooks were reacting and didn’t want to go near it. He had one of them helping him fix roasted chicken, salad and brown rice. The Principal comes in and asks, “Where are your 2 breads?” when he went over Jamie’s paperwork. 2 breads? Seriously? Was he successful that first day? Well, there were leftovers. But that is because the kids were given a choice between the chicken and pizza. Yes, pizza again.
There was a bit of a furor at the end of the show when a front page report of him being in town was printed in the local paper. The reporter took things he said in an interview in Britain out of context and made it look like Jamie was bad mouthing the locals. The Principal said to him, “It’s TV.” At this point Silly Sissy and I were raving mad and dropping the f-bomb. If Jamie wanted to just do “TV” he could have stayed home and created a show so he could be with his family. No, he came here and left the family in England to be an agent of change in our country. Everyone seemed to be too short-sighted to see what he’s trying to do for them. This is the kind of crap that happens when people resist change and people resist it a lot. I had to learn in my last job to accept it and run with change. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Something comes up, okay no problem. These people fought Jamie tooth and nail. I get it. I get that they think they aren’t doing anything wrong because they are going by “guidelines”, but even in Pirates of the Caribbean, guidelines meant you have leeway.
The sneak peek was an hour-long and will have a 2 hour premier this Friday on ABC. I highly recommend watching it with your family!