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.