Americans must start living the ‘Food Revolution’

On Friday, March 26 “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” premiered on ABC. This six-part series, which concludes in the end of April, features Jamie Oliver, a 34-year-old man from Essex, England who is passionate about changing the way we eat, both in the home and in school programs.

Jamie’s quest began in 2005 in Britain with his show “Jamie’s School Dinners,” in which he crusaded against perceived government apathy toward higher standards in school lunch programs. The show, which started as a way to show that a nutritious meal could be produced for the same price as a bag of chips, ended up blossoming into the start of a movement.

As Jamie’s movement takes root in the U.S., an interesting response, not all together favorable, has materialized.

During Jamie’s appearance on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” the afternoon of his TV program’s premiere, some of the adversities he faced as a newcomer to small-town America were highlighted. His new show focuses primarily on the small town of Huntington, West Virginia, a town that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently named the unhealthiest city in the United States.

To individuals whose feathers may be ruffled by this Brit with some new ideas, it is time to set pride aside and admit that conquering our nation’s obesity epidemic starts with the foods we feed our children.

And, as Jamie points out, this food revolution doesn’t have to be expensive.

Probably the most alarming statistic, and one of Jamie’s favorites, is that this generation of young children in the United States is the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents, due to rises in childhood obesity and its co-morbidities, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine. Moreover, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has tripled in the past thirty years, with nearly twenty percent of young children and twenty percent of young adults being obese in 2008.

Even more important than obesity statistics is data concerning why our children are gaining weight in the first place.

According to the 2006 School Health and Programs Study, only 4 percent of states require that schools make fruits and vegetables available to students where food is sold.

So much for five servings per day.

Moreover, nearly half of high schools allow their students to purchase foods or beverages high in fat, sodium, or sugar during lunch.

When healthy options are scarce or non-existent, it’s no wonder our children are gaining weight.

What Oliver has to offer is valuable — a way to prepare meals, both in the cafeteria and in the kitchen at home in a way that is simple and cost-effective.

It may be a shocking and bold method of education, especially when it involves dumping buckets of animal fat on the school lawn or asking children to visually identify common vegetables, only to find that they can’t.

So, instead of dismissing “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” as an intrusion into American life, open up the fridge and take an honest, hard look.

Reach Kristen at kckelle2@asu.edu


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.