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Monday, June 13, 2011

The Most Important Show on Television: The Food Revolution

You may think you've heard and seen it all when it comes to healthy eating and you may think it's too much work, too expensive and not for you. But Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution keeps finding interesting ways to help us easily understand why many of us need to make more informed food choices.

What I love about this show is that not only does he show us what's wrong with our food systems, perceptions and eating habits, he also gives us everyday solutions that anyone, of any age, can use to improve the way we eat as individuals.

57 tons is how much sugar is added to the flavored milks served to Los Angeles school kids not each year but EVERY WEEK!

In my opinion there is no show on tv more important than this show. You should watch it especially if:
  • you have a child who eats the food offered by their public school system and you don't know what they are being fed because you've always assumed the food is healthy
  • you have a child who is overweight due to diet
  • your child has health issues attributed to diet
  • you are overweight due to diet
  • you have health problems attributed to your diet
  • you're a kid and you want to learn more about healthy eating habits. Just choosing plain milk at lunch time is a great start!
  • you want to learn how to prepare delicious, healthy meals

In last week's episode "We're Going To Go Guerilla" (above) along with dealing with the school district Jamie spent time with the Barrett family. They were eating fast food at least one meal per day. Among other examples he asked dad Denny Barrett to go pick up a typical fast food dinner for four. It took him 45 minutes and cost $31.00.

While he's gone Jamie teaches Denny's 10 and 14 year old sons how to make a healthy meal for four in less time and for less money ($23.00 vs $31.00). They made skillet chicken breasts in marinara sauce, boiled new potatoes, a shredded veggie salad, home made dressing and a drink all with no help from him except by Jamie telling them what to do. It was like he was a talking cookbook.

Needless to say their dad was really shocked that the kids whipped up this great dinner and is committed to continuing on with the effort so that not only does his family eat healthier food, they also save money and spend quality time together at the dinner table.

I'll admit it, I love fast food. But, I don't eat it often and do my best to enjoy it in moderation. Just last week I went to McDonalds for the first time this year and had a small fry and a Big Mac (vegetarian style with 2 tomato slices instead of 2 beef patties) and I'll probably have one more before the year is over.

My Favorite Veggie Big Mac

So I'm not preaching never eat fast food. I'm suggesting if you're eating fast food 7 days a week, why not cut it back to 6 days to start? Get in the kitchen and cook something up from scratch one or two meals each week. The Cooking with Carl column over on The Flirty Guide is a great place to start for easy DIY recipes you can try at home.

So far this season Jamie's biggest obstacle has been Mr. Ramon Cortines, the Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). According to Wikipedia Mr. Cortinas did say Jamie was welcome to come in and work with the district in their kitchens but on two conditions:
  1. No cameras allowed
  2. He had to make the school district look good
While it's great that he was willing to allow Jamie into the system at all the terms were, understandably, deal breakers and Jamie chose to find a creative solution that allowed him to work with greater transparency and accuracy while showing the food kids in Los Angeles were being served.

Jamie's strongest opponent: LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines
Jamie's best ally: MLA Partner Schools' President Mike McGallard

Between last week's episode and next week's episode Mr. Cortines retires. Teasers say the new Superintendent is more supportive of improving the food offered by the Los Angeles Unified School District so this will be good news for the kids of the LAUSD and for viewers because it's been beyond frustrating watching Jamie pound his head against the proverbial brick wall the past few episodes.

In the first 2 1/2 minutes I was shocked by the rate of homicides vs. diet related fatalities in the US. I think you will be too.

Chef Jamie Oliver is on a mission and he's making a difference. He's absolutely changing and saving lives. We can help him (and ourselves and the people we care about who we dine with and cook for) by watching the Food Revolution and by letting ABC know we want another season of the Food Revolution. You'll find it listed on their contact page as "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."

If you're curious you can watch more videos samples of The Food Revolution on ABC.com: abc.go.com/shows/jamie-olivers-food-revolution

We needed someone to take a stand and I'm grateful Jamie volunteered for the job. I also appreciate that there are people in public services who truly care about the greater good of those they represent. I think Mike McGallard is a shining example of what it looks like when someone cares.

Here is the video of the Sugar Bus on The Food Revolution. If you watch it keep in mind that every child has to have a milk every day in the LAUSD lunch program and 75% to 85% of kids choose flavored milk over plain milk.

Here's the thing: One 8 oz carton of milk has 28 grams of sugar! It's commonly accepted that one sugar packet contains 4 grams of sugar so that's like adding 7 packets of sugar to one serving of milk! In my opinion it doesn't make sense to take milk, turn it into junk food and serve it to kids at school. Sadly this video shows how children's eating habits are compromised before they're even old enough to comprehend what's happening to them.

Photo Credits:
All images from the Food Revolution are attributed to ABC
The top image and this web badge are images from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Foundation website.

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