I was excited when I first saw the trailer to the new network television series about healthy school lunch programs, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. “Yes!” I thought, as I’m an advocate for healthy school lunches. “Now Americans can see how much of a positive difference can be made by changing school lunches!” But after watching the first episode, I was kind of disappointed.
The Reality Is, It’s Reality TV.
Here we have a witty Brit going into a town in West Virginia in the middle of the school year to try to change things over night. It’s hard enough for anyone to go to small-town American and instigate change, let alone be a foreigner and do it over night. Next, trying to change anything while in mid-stream is much more challenging than starting from the beginning. It’s common sense. I’m thinking that the network wanted some drama and figured there would be some nice dramatic resistance to film (and there is). And finally, giving grade-school children a choice between the junk food they know and like and healthy food is a set-up for failure. No matter how delicious and nutritious the healthy food choice, kids will pick pizza over it. Be real.
Junk Food Shouldn’t Be An Option
The bottom line is this: children should not even have junk food as a choice. We are the adults. We are responsible for what they eat and should be making that decision. The “powers that be,” whether the school or the government, should make a healthy school lunch program available for our children. If you provide them with only fresh nutritious food, they will eat it. Give them green beans that are bright green, not grey. Give them fresh ripe fruit; not some syrupy, overcooked, cubed, mystery fruit that comes in a cup. Give them brightly colored lightly cooked or fresh vegetables. Give them real unprocessed food — and they will eat it — eventually. If they don’t like it at first, they will grow to like it within a few weeks. I guarantee it.
Good Intentions, But Wrong Execution
Don’t get me wrong. I think Jamie Oliver has good intentions and really wants to make a difference. And because of all the publicity, I think he will (hey, I’m talking about him, right?). But I think the network got in the way of something that could have been really great. The good thing is, even if this experiment doesn’t go as well as it could (I know it doesn’t because I know of the outcome.), at least the masses can get a good look at the crud that is being served in the majority of the schools and maybe start being proactive in making a change themselves, either at their local school or even at their own dinner table. French fries should not count as a vegetable.
Make A Difference: The Child Nutrition Bill
The Child Nutrition Bill is up for a vote with the Senate in mid-to-late April. Many organizations are petitioning. For more information see the Time for Lunch campaign at www.slowfoodusa.org, Chef Ann Cooper’s Lunch Box “One More Dollar A Day For Healthy School Food” campaign to our elected officials, or sign Jamie Oliver’s petition to save cooking skills and improve school food.
BTW, The Revolution Began Over A Decade Ago
There have already been successful changes to school lunch programs in certain areas of the country. One such place is in Wisconsin at the Appleton School District, which started back in 1997. Chef Ann Cooper, a.k.a. The Renegade Lunch Lady, has made some great strides in improving school lunches in several schools as well. Two Angry Moms is another group that is making a change. I guess the food revolution is just “new” to the masses. And bringing it to the masses is where Jamie Oliver succeeds.