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Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution

Jaime Oliver, British chef, TV star, and activist, is launching his Food Revolution here in the US.  Contrary to many reality show hosts, Oliver is not just a pretty face working for advertising dollars.  He has campaigned in the UK for years to improve the school food system and encourage from scratch cooking with and for children.  He recently won a TED prize with a powerful speech about food education for children. Alex and I watched the sneak peak of Oliver's Huntington West Virginia based Food Revolution show last Sunday.  Jaime's challenge is to improve the school foods and general community health of the least healthy city in America.  His approach is to replace highly processed meat and starch based meals with fresh made from scratch whole foods.

I largely advocate opting out of industrialized food systems by making your own food and eating at home as much as possible.  Yet I admire Jaime and others (Columbus' own Local Matters has elementary education and advocacy programs) who attack the systems head on.  School lunch programs are huge purchasers of food and making changes in schools can affect change system wide.

As anyone who works in food education knows, there is plenty of resistance to whole food cooking.  First, many families are addicted to processed food both for taste and supposed convenience.  Then there are USDA regulations which specify nutritional content and number of servings which are largely guided by the interests of Big Ag profiteers.  Finally, students, teachers, cooks, and administrators need lots of education about why spending the time and money to transition to from scratch cooking is not just a good idea, but possibly a life saving one.

The next six episodes of Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution air Friday nights at 9 pm on ABC (the first episode is a 2 hour premier starting at 8 pm) and repeating on Saturday afternoons.  I will be watching with interest and hope that others who need inspiration and education will tune in too.