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'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution': Try It, You'll Like It
March 25, 2010  | By David Bianculli

JAMIE-OLIVERS-FOOD-REV-10-M.jpgThere's something about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the new ABC reality series launching Friday night at 8 ET, that comes as a total surprise. For a program about the dangers and proliferation of disgusting processed foods, it's shockingly easy to swallow. In fact, this has the makings of one tasty reality show...


Oliver, a British celebrity chef, hammered out the template for his new series in Food Revolution, a program produced and presented in his native England earlier this year. The idea was simple: try to reverse decades of bad habits, and bad food, by introducing healthier cuisine into a single school system. And it worked there, so why not transplant both the series concept, and the host, to the United States?

That emigration, after all, worked brilliantly for Gordon Ramsay and his Kitchen Nightmares, where his attack-and-revamp approach to failing restaurants has proven to work just as well on either side of the Atlantic. So why not Oliver? Why not OUR schools, and OUR kids?

Why not, indeed?

For the opening target of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, this ABC production descends upon Huntington, W. Va. -- a city hardly chosen at random. Statistically, based on disease and death rates and dietary information, Huntington is the least healthy city in the United States. So Oliver decides to start here, in the worst of the worst.

The added bonus, of course, is the backwoods vs. British, city vs. country conflicts that are set up automatically. But Oliver, unlike Ramsay, doesn't descend with snarly attitude and sharp insults. His targets aren't the parents, or the "lunch ladies," or even the administrators. It's the system, which he intends to change from the bottom up.


He's given one week to effect a measurable, positive change at one Huntington grade school, using the lunch ladies as both his assistants and his control group. Round one, for example, gives the elementary school kids an option: They can try Oliver's roast chicken and wild rice, made fresh, or they can go with the familiar, highly processed pepperoni pizza. Which meal do the kids prefer?

Elementary, my dear Watson. Both the school, and the result.

But this only makes Oliver more determined to make a change, this time by soliciting the input and cooperation of the students and parents. He attacks one on one -- making one mother's kitchen table groan under the weight of the junk she feeds her kids -- and also en masse, holding rallies that make the same disgusting point on a grand scale.

It's good television... and good FOR you, too. Do with the show what Oliver is asking the kids to do with their food: Take a taste.

Try it, you'll like it...




Angela said:

I have learned a lot about health & food over the years. My diet is....fairly good, but there is plenty of room for improvement, even though I know why I should eat better.
And I *do not* watch reality shows, but I stumbled on this one at Hulu and much to my surprise I was hooked! And just one episode did/does make me think about what I eat in a different and more positive way than all the health information I've gleaned over the years. Amazing really!
I think this show works for me because it tugs at the heart strings with those kids. And because Jamie, just one person, against such huge odds, is so determined. Plus he's very aware of how stacked the odds are against him but that doesn't stop him. And he is sensitive to others feelings, and has a really good heart
I can't wait for the next episode.

Comment posted on March 25, 2010 9:59 PM

Sean Dougherty said:

Reason Magazine has a better response up to this show now that acknowledges that we as a society needs to eat less but shows more directly why government is the problem, not the solution.


Comment posted on March 26, 2010 8:51 PM

Tausif Khan said:

This show is the best idea for a reality show and I hate reality television.

A couple of years ago I think he tried to have show on The Food Network where he wanted to promote healthy living which failed. Why did it fail? Why isn't this Food Revolution show on The Food Network? I think it is good that it is on ABC but what The Food Network has become might be what Oliver is fighting.

Comment posted on March 26, 2010 8:55 PM

Greg Kibitz said:

I'm glad that this has made it onto network TV and not cable because that tends to get it watched and that alone can make a very big difference. I've been following this issue for some time. Here is the blog of a teacher who since January has been daily documenting her school's lunch program. She also has many new guest bloggers with all sorts of useful info.


Anyway, Jamie's show brought me to tears more than once and also made me very, very angry and scared!

Drives me nuts that just as with Healthcare, once again England can get this sort of thing done and we instead continue to fail while those who have a hand in the pot (Big Agra and Big Corporate Food) just get richer and richer.

Scares me that so few have a problem with all the unidentifiable stuff in their highly processed food choices. That as long as the first ingredient is right, then all is well.

Scares me that so many are ignorant of basic biology, chemistry and nutrition and cannot even read an ingredients label (or an RDA label) to know what is just technical jargon for somehting that is okay (like whey protein) and stuff that is not (perservatives, conditioners, colorants, etc.).

It's insane that even when american kids are shown exactly what crap can be in their food they will still eat it as long as it is a fried breaded nugget. Even scarier that our children are the only ones to fail that test!

Drives me nuts that we know so little about the possible long term health effects of so many of the unneeded ingredients in processed food. Scares the hell out of me that kids cannot even identify very basic items in the produce section, like a tomato or potato.

Drives me nuts that the entire school lunch program is designed so that those who try to cook fresh and healthy locally (in house) are doomed to fail (due to either cost or red tape) so that it forces control from local to centralized entities that have more concern for profit than good health and nutrition. It's insane that the Department of Agriculture, (mostly big Agra Monsanto & ADM's bitch), is in control of the school lunches. Food is a primary health issue, not a commerce issue and and thus food programs should be part of the Health Department. This should have been part of healthcare reform as well.

Crazy that the rules forced more refined bread items and separate veggies onto Jamie's menu that have plenty of whole grains and fresh veggies in them and yet let a piece of pizza count as two breads and a veggie.

Just insane that they put the ultimate choice of what to eat in the hands of the kids and that they let kids not clean their plates. Crazy that they think that kids raised on crap can correctly decide between pizza and roasted chicken and feash sides and if they pick the pizza then pizza it has to be. Insane that children are not trained to eat better but instead just have their very poor food choices re-inforced and/or created right in school.

I can go on like this forever.

[Well, I'm glad you went on as long as you did. Nice reaction. Thanks. -- David B.]

Comment posted on March 27, 2010 6:02 PM

George said:

A fantastic show, and I hate "reality" TV. I love the guy, but my feeling is he'll end up preaching to the choir. Americans don't want to be told they're doing something wrong...I don't think those that really need to see this stuff will have the courage to sit through an episode. We're a lazy,coddled Nation. The whole attitude toward the children in the school from the staff was "feed the little darlings what they want, they are the judges about what they should eat, and who are we to force them to eat good food?" Jamie is swimming upstream against a culture that has abandoned self-discipline.

Comment posted on March 28, 2010 8:44 AM
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