friend's quote: What'd you know - White Foodie Jebus can't fix it all with Shame. Who'd have thunk?12:41 pm - 04/15/2010
How TV Superchef Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' Flunked Out:After two months, kids hated the new meals, milk consumption plummeted, and many students dropped out of the school lunch program altogether.
Jamie landed on America's shores with the self-anointed mission to remake our eating habits for the better. Ground zero is Huntington, West Virginia. In an opening montage we are told the city of 50,000 "was recently named the unhealthiest city in America ... where nearly half of the adults are considered obese" as we see lardy folk shuffle through the frame.
While Jamie's efforts touch on many problems of school food -- from overuse of processed foods to lack of funding to French fries being considered a vegetable -- the "Food Revolution" is a failure because the entertainment narrative is unable to deal with complexities or systemic issues. Instead, all problems are reduced to individual stories and choices. The series may sprinkle some facts and hot-button issues into the mix, but what keeps the viewer hungering for more is the personal dramas, conflicts and weepy moments that are the staples of reality TV.
Because Jamie is packaged as a one-man whirlwind, tangling with "lunch lady Alice" while "Stirn' things oop," there is no mention of the existing, deep-rooted movement for local, healthy food from the farm to the market to the table, as well as schools. It's also more fun and shocking to "slag off" a poor school district in Appalachia for serving pizza and flavored milk for breakfast than to examine how West Virginia has imposed some of the strictest school nutritional standards in the nation. But that's entertainment.
The reality behind "Food Revolution" is that after the first two months of the new meals, children were overwhelmingly unhappy with the food, milk consumption plummeted and many students dropped out of the school lunch program, which one school official called "staggering." On top of that food costs were way over budget, the school district was saddled with other unmanageable expenses, and Jamie's failure to meet nutritional guidelines had school officials worried they would lose federal funding and the state department of education would intervene.
In short, the "Food Revolution" has flunked out. At Central City Elementary, where Jamie burst in with loads of fanfare, expense and energy, the school has reintroduced the regular school menu and flavored milk because the "Food Revolution" meals were so unpopular. In what looks like a face-saving gesture, Jamie's menu remains as a lunchtime option, but given the negative student response, don't be surprised if it's quietly phased out by next school year. (You can see both menus here.)
To source, cook and get children to eat fresh, healthy local food we would need to double school food funding, get schoolchildren involved in growing and cooking their own food, ban junk-food advertising, slap a health tax on fast food, shift agribusiness subsidies to small, community-controlled farms, provide proper health care and nutrition education, and promote social and cultural changes in how American families exercise and approach, prepare and eat food. Then most children (and adults) would probably make healthy choices. But this would require a real revolution, not one manufactured for television.
...These factors make choice more of a construct. Many people opt for flavor-intense, highly processed, calorie-dense food because it's cheaper, easier and more fulfilling than cooking healthy foods from scratch. And there's no one helping to educate them and help modify their behaviors and habits because there is much more profit in the huge diet industry and obesity-related diseases than in prevention.So why is West Virginia's school food system the way that it is?
The mantra of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" is choice. But America's ever-expanding waistline is caused by systemic issues: widespread poverty, sedentary lifestyles, junk-food advertising, a lack of health care, corporate control of the food system, the prevalence of cheap fast food, food designed to be addictive, and subsidies and policies that make meats and sugars cheaper than whole fruits and vegetables.
There's a whole lot of fatshaming going on too, which is absolutely disgusting and not in the least helpful.
And apparently he pulled off the same thing in Britain three years ago?
Also : Article about Huntington, Jamie Oliver show angers locals
Fawn Boyer of West Virginia believes that targeting a town where the average income is below the poverty line is hitting under the belt. She is the creator of the Facebook group I Bet This Fizzy Drink Can Get More Fans Than Jamie Oliver. Boyer admits that there is a problem with fast food places in Huntington. Also, she says, poverty burdens many residents of the town. What she disagrees with is the article in the Daily Mail portraying her town as a bunch of hicks who don't care about their children. "The article in the Daily Mail was very unrealistic. It feels like an attack on Huntington. If you research the CDC you find that the state of Mississippi has a higher obesity rating," Boyer said during a phone interview.
In a town where many of the state employees are making so little income that they qualify for welfare, it's unrealistic to expect people to be able to shop at the higher line supermarkets that offer organic foods, she says. "The truth is for many fast food and a big can of Spagettios is the only way a family can afford to feed their family."
Boyer thinks Oliver's ideals are wonderful; after all he is for promoting better health and diet for children. She mused that it would be great if the schools could serve organic lunches to students but knows that with the funding that is in place for West Virginia's schools, that is a pipe dream. Boyer also said that the city's YMCA is too expensive for most of the residents. "The city should create gyms so that everyone would have a place to go to exercise." In West Virgina there is talk in the government about a fat tax allowing insurance premiums to be higher for those who are overweight instead of funding for helping its citizens become healthier.
Boyer has not been to Huntington's Kitchen. She fears that Oliver's show will portray the town's people in a negative manner. "It seems like the show is exploiting the town." Still Boyer's beef isn't with Oliver, whose ideas she supports, but with creating a program that just may not be sustainable for the town. The overall message she agrees with is basic common sense but it shouldn't come at the cost of shaming one group of people. MORE