Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (this is what we’ve come to, America)

Quote of the Day:

“Here we are in the land of the free and I can’t even talk to a child about what he eats everyday. …As Americans, that should make you furious.”     —Jamie Oliver, at the conclusion of tonight’s show

TB bumped in to Jamie Oliver’s reality show, Food Revolution, last spring while channel surfing. I was immediately engrossed with his televised attempt to improve the health of West Virginians, particularly the kids of the Huntington school district. When I heard there would be a follow-up season from Los Angeles I made sure to plan ahead to watch the show.

What I have seen after two episodes is this–America, as exemplified by the Los Angeles public school system, is hopelessly lost.

The school board and it’s mutely evil superintendent, having obviously seen how Jamie exposed the garbage being fed to students in West Virginia schools, steadfastly refused to allow the acclaimed chef on it’s campuses. That’s arguably–weakly arguably, but arguably–defensible. But their purpose was not to protect students. Clearly it was to protect themselves from humiliation, because they also have refused to discuss the nutritional content of the food they provide in any way whatsoever. They are treating their food service practices like a state secret. Here’s a guy trying to replace chicken nuggets made from soylent green with grilled strips from a chicken never pumped full of chemicals and steroids. He’s trying to find out why french fries are classified as a vegetable by the government. He believes education is not only about what’s in books but on what we ingest. They view this person as a threat. A revolutionary.

Are these ideas that far out?

But America is a democracy right? The greatest country on Earth, the land of the free, yada yada yada…..We can just elect the other party and everything will be fine. The problem is clearly the liberals who run L.A. politics. Government does nothing right, after all, including this. It’s a prime example. Sooooo……we should just close the damn schools–easy conservative, libertarian answer. The whole thing’s a waste–unfixable–get the gubment outta my kid’s book learnin’.

Nah, clearly the problem is conservatives. If only they would throw more money at the menus they could provide better food. Except Jamie’s already shown he can take the existing budgets and provide high quality food without chemicals, less sugar and fat, and God forbid, less French fries.

A grassroots movement, that’s the ticket! When Jamie appealed to the parents of L.A., it generated (almost) a thousand, um, emails. Hmm. That’s how we express outrage here in the land that invented government of, by and for the people.

What about the political party that just wants to try to fix government without tearing it down and without adding more layers of red tape. Not pass a book of new regulations or throw out all of them, but to identify and strengthen the ones that are effective and shitcan the idiotic ones. The party that sees clearly–and acts on the vision–that we need government, but that there is far too much waste. The party that believes in private enterprise and fair competition and opposes monopolies and oligopolies and the cable company and calling french fries a vegetable and that sometimes the government should act and other times it shouldn’t and that simply pluggin’ a square problem in to a circular philosophy at all times is irrational. Oh, wait. We don’t have that party, do we?

After a couple of days, the obstinacy of the LA school board will all be forgotten, just like every other outrage inflicted upon us. It is one thing after another and we, as a people, are desensitized to it. Spend more money on the military than the rest of the world combined–we cheer it. Run the government so poorly a large part of the population has decided we are better off casting our lots with the corporations–we accept it. Refuse to allow the public a view of what goes on inside a public school cafeteria kitchen–we email about it. Just as long as my enormously grotesque chicken wing has enough sauce on it to mask the taste, I’ll stay compliant.

Food Revolution is not just about the schools either. It is about what is in our grocery stores. It is about our national obesity epidemic, diabetes, and heart disease and all the economic and emotional havoc they wreak. It is about ignorance and complacency and hopelessness, and no matter how hopeful and positive the host, and no matter how reasonable and doable his proposals, an American viewer knows what, perhaps the affable Brit host does not. We had our Revolution. We aren’t having another.

Maybe I am reading too much into what Food Revolution depicts. I don’t think so, but maybe. What I see when I watch is another straw dropped on the already crushed to smithereens spine of the camel that was our national spirit, our identity, long ago. Ultimately, Jamie’s show is a snapshot of America, the absolute failure of our political system to address problems that are crippling us, and the impotence of we, the people.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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15 Responses to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (this is what we’ve come to, America)

  1. Glen Feulner says:

    some great points here, i agree completely. you would think that these people would be picketing their kids schools, pissed off about this and maybe even keeping their kids out of school till the board listens. But no, we get the same indifference that the general population gives to anything that involves them getting off their asses and caring.

    • I’m glad y’all were able to follow my thinking. I actually had/have so many thoughts running through my head when I watch this show it’s very difficult to summarize them in a blog post. Thanks for commenting Glen.

  2. The Daily Wit says:

    Well written. I’m going to start watching this show now. You and I need to form our political party and get our platform circulating.

  3. tinyd says:

    Not a point of contention but just a point to consider. 73% of the parents are hispanic (possible language barrier), 78% of the nearly 679,000 students in this district qualify for free or reduced lunch prices. Let’s give them them the benefit of doubt and assume, it’s possible that the parents of those students (if they were aware of said controversy) were unwilling to confront it because they are thankful their children are being fed and don’t feel they have the right to complain? Not sure, just sayin… But then this brings out a completely different soap box, correct?

    • I don’t think the failure to confront American problems is limited to L.A. schools. The show for me is just a highlight of how screwed up so many of our social/government institutions are and the complete disinterest of the political class in addressing problems. For the people, I’m really not trying to be as critical as I’ve come off. It’s more that the cause, whatever the cause, is pretty much hopeless. I’ve no doubt some of the reasons you listed for indifference in that particular case are on point, but there is a different excuse everywhere. I’m pretty sure if Jamie ever comes to Mississippi he’ll find a similar load of garbage being fed to the kids here and a similar reaction from the local board and parents.

      I didn’t really get in to it much, but when he shows what goes in to our ground beef, chicken nuggets, etc, that many of us buy at the grocery, it is every bit as infuriating as the school stuff. I had no idea how many chemicals, for instance, are involved in producing ground beef that the government does not require food companies to even disclose–we’re talking carcinogens. Makes the extra couple of bucks I started to shell out for organic meat seem like a bargain.

      If any of you saw last year’s show, I’d be real curious about what, if any changes were made in Huntington. He ought to do a follow episode on that.

      Thanks for bringing up the points you made TD, it is worth noting that the places with the least able populations are also prone to be the most abused. Makes me think Jamie ought to do one episode from Pasadena or 90210, just to see if those kids “fare” any better.

    • Eero says:

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  4. Pingback: News stories that make my head hurt…. « Glen feulner

  5. ZEEK says:

    U already know my feelings……..Viva Revolucion!!!! Nothing changes, nothing changes.

  6. Rip Raring says:

    Afeared I’m inclined to agree with your assessment of public lack of confidence in government. And futility of expectation from entrenched patterns of procedure… elected “representatives” actually do seem uninterested in serious effort to address glaring chronic dysfunction. Lobbyists literally do write the laws and escort them to fruition, regardless (or despite) whether the “represented” embrace, understand, or even know about them. Epidemic disillusion, distrust, disgust – is a jaded public to be blamed?

    • It’s a complex problem, no doubt. I do think the public is limited in it’s power and even when the grass roots rise up in protest, their leaders are quickly corrupted from one side or the other. However, I very much place blame on the public to the extent so many people are willfully ignorant or purposefully misled, i.e. the millions of dittoheads. But on the other hand, part of why people are so woefully ill informed is because they are either poorly educated or uneducated altogether, which brings us right back to the powerful interests who would have it so.

  7. Pavla says:

    These are absolutely phoots Jodie. I showed them to my mom and dad too, the barn shots reminded them of over here. You have so many nice ones to choose for a frame.

  8. Angel says:

    Christi on I hate to be a bummer but if you read “Nourishing Traditions,” you’ll see how…Mary on Those look yummy! I will need to write this reicpe down. I am not…Janet on

  9. Hey, you’re the goto expert. Thanks for hanging out here.

  10. Cinthia says:

    When my wife filed her first return years ago, her paetrns told her while she was writing her check “don’t forget to write ‘taxes suck’ in the memo section,” and she’d begun writing it before realizing they were only joking.

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