Food Revolution: My Six Cents

By Katie, 8:36 am

Did any of you watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution last night?

Having missed the original airing of the first episode, I was glad they re-ran it last night before the new one. I was literally glued to the TV for those two hours, and there are very few things on television that truly keep my attention! ;-)

I don’t want to comment too extensively on his basic message: that wholesome, nutritious, fresh food is preferable to processed crap. I obviously believe that wholeheartedly, even on the days I don’t fully practice what I preach. I also really appreciate his message that people deserve to be eating fresh food that actually nourishes their bodies. It’s a basic human right.

Beyond that, here are my 6 off-the-cuff thoughts on the two Food Revolution episodes that aired last night:

1. I really appreciate how seriously he’s taking his mission, and the fact that he’s emphasizing this seriousness to everyone else. Yes, there’s a bit of sensationalism going on, and he’s definitely using scare tactics to get his point across (how many times was the word “death” used? Many!). But I think that’s necessary to help people see that this isn’t a joke or a game; the quality of our food (and consequently, our lives) is not an issue that we can just laugh off.

2. Jamie Oliver’s lunches look delicious! I would eat in his school cafeteria any day!  :-)

3. The notion of a REVOLUTION is not just clever marketing. I was talking to my Mom – who works as an elementary school lunch lady – about this. (For the record, she does not mind being called a lunch lady. ;-) ) She said that unfortunately, making change probably does require more of a top-down than a ground-up approach. She said that she would love to see changes, but her school is so tied down by government restrictions and regulations, and of course there are budget issues (as they pointed out in the show). So for change to happen, it will need to be WIDESPREAD, probably originating with the powers that be.

4. I think the strategy of using visual demonstrations is a really smart one. Again it’s part of the sensationalism, but I feel like you need that to get through to people. So while his truck load of fat certainly made for good television, I think it’s important beyond that. Sometimes you just need that SHOCK FACTOR. 8-O

5. I was flabbergasted when the first graders were completely unable to identify fresh produce – they had no idea what a tomato was! But then I started wondering how much fresh produce I would have been able to identify at that age. I like to think that I could have identified a tomato, but I’m almost certain I would have been clueless about an eggplant. Like a lot of kids, my diet consisted of a lot of chicken nuggets and french fries, and I certainly never questioned the source of my food.

That segment really made me think about how much I want to give my future children the INFORMATION they need to make smart choices, in the hopes that having the resources and tools will make them more likely to appreciate good, fresh food. Knowledge is power!

6. Not surprisingly, people were getting extremely defensive when they were told that they are unhealthy or that their food choices are poor. It’s a very emotionally-charged situation. While in this case it might be in part because Oliver is coming across the Atlantic and trying to shake things up, I’ve noticed the same thing even in my everyday life. When people who are not interested in health and fitness find out that I enjoy running or that I write a health blog, they get defensive about their lifestyles too. (“So I’m guessing you never eat dessert, right?” Or “Of course she’s getting a salad, she’s always so healthy.”)

Such reactions are pretty normal; who doesn’t get a little defensive when they feel they’re being criticized (even if they’re not!)? But it’s important to realize that if change is really going to happen, it needs to be approached with the recognition that as a general rule, people don’t respond well to having their food choices or their lifestyles criticized, even if it’s for their own good.

Did you catch the Food Revolution episode last night? What are your thoughts? If you post about the show on your blog, feel free to share the link in Comments so that we can get as many perspectives as possible!

20 Responses to “Food Revolution: My Six Cents”

  1. Amy says:

    Aw bummer, I missed it. Maybe I will be able to catch it online.
    Without watching the show, it really scares me that kids these days do not know what fresh produce looks like. My husband and I will make a point of doing this for our child(ren)(when we have one!). Makes me want to go to the farmer’s market and stock up on fresh fruit and veggies now!!

  2. Wow I completely agree with your six thoughts on the show. I haven’t seen it but I can imagine the message. I too believe that it needs to be a real revolution. Your mom is right about it being a top-down change. It is going to be a struggle but is unbelievably necessary and worthwhile. It can be so difficult to change someone’s view of food or the way they eat. I hear you on the ‘defensive’ front, I have encountered this reaction more times than not.
    What a well thought out post, Katie. You are so intelligent and sensible. I always look forward to your musings about everything- you are always poignant, rational, and sensitive to the topics. THanks!

  3. I haven’t seen Food Revolution yet but I did watch a speach Jamie gave and it really perked my interest. I’ll have to look for this episodes, what channel was it on?

    Your #6 point reminded me of yesterday when I was out to lunch at a mexican restaurant. I was going to pass on additional chips when one of the gals at lunch goes “you workout all the time, you can eat as much as you want”. That really weirded me out, I don’t think that just because I workout I can eat whatever I want, it doesn’t give me the power to go balls out at a buffet. I still believe in moderation and eating food that’s right and good for my body… it just rubbed me the wrong way that she thinks like that.

    • Katie says:

      Wow, I totally know what you mean. I get very uncomfortable when people make comments like that. And it makes it sound like the primary reason for working out is just so you can eat more, which isn’t the case!

      The show is on ABC…I think there’s a new episode on next Friday night, but I’m not totally sure.

  4. Jess says:

    I just wanted to say that I LOVE Jamie Oliver! I agree with all of your observations. Maybe the shock factor will force people to take it seriously! I have a 4 year old who is getting ready for public school (in 1.5 years) so I am totally hooked on this show : )

  5. Rhonda says:

    Well let me tell you I AM PASSIONATE about this subject also. As you know I work with your Mom At school.And while I agree w/Mr Oliver in theory. Food Service in our district meets all GOVERNMENT standards. And in order to get government funding you must meet their requirements(so many proteins,fats, breads,and veg and fruits per day and per week). Our district trys VERY HARD but it’s only 1 meal of that childs day. CHANGE begins at HOME.Children need to be taught good carbs, proteins,fruits,veg,ect. NOT from McDonalds or Wendy’s food groups.Everyone is in such a rush these days and rely on PROCESSED FOOD. As you have proven with a little time,imagination and planning you can fix good wholesome meals.I’ll get off my soap box now. Have a GREAT day!!

    • Katie says:

      You are absolutely right that change begins at home. Even if school cafeterias did start serving more fresh food and less processed stuff, it wouldn’t make the kids any healthier unless they were also getting more wholesome, nutritious food at home! The parents need to be the ones to start making a CHANGE!

  6. Lisa says:

    I did catch it and I thought many of the same things that you did.

    1. I was shocked they didnt know simple things like a potato or a tomato. I understand about eggplant/cauliflower because I prob didnt evn know what an eggplant looked like until about 4 years ago.

    2. I thought it was so sad the kids chose and didnt like the food he made—they simply are so used to how the crap food tastes. But, I also thought that kids would choose pizza over roasted chicken anyday–its pizza ya know? I Wish he would have made a healthy version of the pizza for the kids…i bet they wouldve eaten that up.

    Cant wait to keep watchin the show.

    • Katie says:

      Exactly! Of course they were going to pick pizza – no surprise there! I also wish he would have made a healthy pizza…it probably would have been amazing!

  7. I thought the show was great. You’re absolutely right about people becoming insecure and defensive when their food choices and habits are critcized. But I think this is a valuable lesson for parents!!!! Didn’t you think it was amazing when he gave the family menues and groceries to make meals for a week. When he returned they had not used up the ingredients! It took a scare tactic (going to the doctor) to actually make the parents realize they are hurting their children and may be responsible for their diabetes, if not an early death.

    I have more thoughts at Happy Heart, Happy Mind
    http://happyhearthappymind.wordpress.com/

    • Katie says:

      Yes, I was shocked that they hadn’t used up the ingredients! I thought it was such a shame because he went to great lengths to ensure that the healthy changes were doable for them…most people don’t have those kinds of resources or that kind of support. I couldn’t believe that it took the doctor visit to really get through to them, but I guess that is what it takes for some people.

  8. Jennifer says:

    My husband and I have been at the beach all weekend, but I did dvr this program. So I plan to watch it tonight, then I will come back and read this and tell ya what I think!

  9. i haven’t seen it yet, but i’m pretty excited about it! i kind of figured that the points you made would be part of the program, and i think it’s a good thing to shake it up a bit!

  10. Candice says:

    I only saw the first hour’s show, not the second’s. It’s on my Tivo to watch.

    I agree with your thoughts on it. I think it’s a great show and I hope that it does inspire some broader changes in the food we feed to children in this country. I’m in favor of each person making personal choices, but children don’t get that option. We can’t put the responsibility on the parents either. Packing lunches is not a perfect solution. Kids want to eat what their friends have, or some parents cannot afford better quality food for their children. It’s sad but true. I suggest Food Inc. to anyone who enjoyed Food Revolution and hasn’t seen Food Inc. It’s an eye opener.

  11. I watched both episodes yesterday on my DVR and I actually saved your post until I watched it :D

    I agree whole heartedly with what you had to say. Some of it was shocking but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t all too familiar. I lived that way for a long time and it has taken a lot to change my health as a result. I don’t think it is going to happen instantly but I do think that between him and Michelle Obama and people like Michael Pollen, the ball of change is starting to roll and I am glad to see it happening.

  12. Lisa says:

    Definitely agree with your comments. I agree that by human nature anyone who feels like they’re being attacked or criticized is going to react defensively and defend their ways, the sad thing is that it’s their health and their life that’s at stake. And their children’s lives. Expanding on you convo with your Mom, I think it’s interesting that the gov’t has subsidized so many of these unhealthy ingredients and has established a school food system that is not nutritionally sound for our children, yet the gov’t is also promoting Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign. I hope they make the changes that are really necessary and don’t let this opportunity pass them (and us) by.

    It is also very important though, that we each take our own initiative (like you are with your blog) to inspire change and promote healthy living through your words and actions! We definitely can’t rely on the government to do it all. (they won’t and we shouldn’t anyway – it’s our health and our lives).

    Sorry I rambled so long!

    • Katie says:

      No need to apologize! You make such great points! The government does seem to be sending some mixed messages. And I agree that the ultimate responsibility lies with us as individuals; like you said, it’s our health!

  13. Elina says:

    I just watched the 2 episodes online. It was so sad. The most shocking scene was definitely the one where the kids couldn’t identify the produce. A tomato? A potato? Common! Everyone else in the town also seemed quite overweight so I think that becomes part of the norm. If fresh produce and quality food is not valued in the community, it will be the obvious choice for kids and adults. I can’t believe that woman fried donuts for her kids every morning. I wouldn’t be surprised to see pop tarts or some other processed food but the fact that she took her time to fry that shit, agh. Sad, sad. Anyways, good a review definitely, Katie. :)

  14. barb says:

    I’m also enjoying this show a lot! My grown kids saw me watching it (who eat deep fried everything every day!),said why are you wasting your time watching that we are not going to change?! I too was amazed kids could not identify a simple POTATO! I’m glad someone is going to unbrainwash all the small kids who still have a chance to learn better than we taught our youngsters.

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