Back where he belongs: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Remember when smoking was allowed everywhere? If you’re old enough you’ll remember seeing the cinema screen through a haze of smoke, getting stuck in the smoking carriage of a train. Remember coming home from the pub smelling like an ashtray? It seems strange now we’ve got used to publics places being smoke free and it’s a bit like that now with healthy school meals.

Remember when school dinners consisted of turkey twizzlers and sugary puddings? I remember trying to enthuse my Year One class about school dinner by pointing out the delicious mashed potato.

‘That’s not mashed potato,’ sniffed the cook, ‘it’s cauliflower.’

It seems almost unbelievable now that schools are expected to provide healthy food options including salad, vegetables, fruit based desserts and plenty of fresh water . We still have a long way to go in terms of promoting healthier eating options to children but even in our darkest days when the cauliflower was put on to boil at 10am we never stooped to the depths of food hell shown in Jamie’s Food Revolution in Los Angeles. 

Lord Jamie of Burger has featured regularly in this blog. When writing about his Dream School I mentioned that he’s not shy of a challenge. We know that from his tackling of England’s school meals and of course the infamous Norah but he faced his greatest challenge to date when he tried to improve meals in LA schools.

The district superintendent was determined to shut him down from day one and banned him from visiting any LA schools. It might have been the shortest series in history at this point but Saint Jamie of Corndog (Look it up. Ugh) managed to find a school that would let him work with its Culinary Arts students to cook for small groups in school. Door after door was shut in his bewildered, pink face until his filming permits were revoked and you got the impression that if the superintendent could have escorted him to LAX and put him on a plane to the Antarctic on a one way ticket, he would have done. After a few requisite tears, Brigadier Jamie of Curly Fry pulled up his baggy trucker jeans and set up a kitchen opposite the school so parents and students could at least learn about healthy eating after school.

In between the school story was the drive thru owner who was eventually persuaded to serve healthier options and the singe dad who was stuck in a fast food rut but it was really only filler to main school event.

To cut a long story short with the school story, the superintendent stepped down from his post and his replacement immediately agreed to promote healthy foods in his schools. His first act was to ban sugary, flavoured milk from school canteens.

Eat like me, don't dress like me.

What it all boiled down to was one bloke taking offence at another bloke who pointed out that things could be improved and refusing to play ball. It makes me wonder how many improvements in children’s lives are curtailed because some blokes decide that saving face is more important than giving in.

Now free to involve the schools, Captain Jamie of Lard also recruited some local chefs to mentor schools in improving meal and teaching cooking. One chef, shamefacedly, wondered why it had taken an outsider to get them involved with their schools. But sometimes it takes a subjective view to make you realise what’s going wrong. I hope that in a few years’ time the junk food and flavoured milk on the menu of LA schools will be just a bad memory.

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3 Responses to Back where he belongs: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

  1. guerrillamum says:

    You are so right, citizen r! I have watched Jamie’s Food Rev in LA like it was a horror movie, from behind a cushion, clutching my fruit smoothie and hand feeding the children carrot sticks. I could totally identify with his upset and tears over the education officials’ refusal to take on board another point of view or to change in the way they did things, but like me, persistence paid off with some good results. It is a tragedy that so many children and their families have been harmed by poor diet and ignorance about healthy eating and to let that happen in schools where children are meant to be educated is particularly depressing. It was great to see the school garden at West Adams school. Many schools have plenty of space for growing veg but they only seem to use it for running around on, I can’t believe that more schools don’t set up gardens. Lets hope that the way is now open for positive change in LA.

    • citizenr says:

      Frightening wasn’t it? At least here in the UK the government at the time listened and did something about the state of schools meals, even if they were shamed into doing so. There is a great US campaign by Two Angry Moms. The movie they made is amazing http://www.angrymoms.org/

  2. guerrillamum says:

    Thanks, citizen, I will take a gander at the video.

    Ellen

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