Naked Chef Jamie Oliver Caught with His Pants Down - Food Revolution or Fool's Contribution?
Thanks to Hulu, I finally had the chance to catch up on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, the show where the UK’s “Naked Chef” flies over to West Virginia, declared by a CDC to be “the unhealthiest town in America.”
Throughout the six-part program, Jamie meets with parents, students ,school administrators, local media, and the business community to try to change the food system in the public schools from largely processed, to fresh and healthy food.It’s an interesting watch, and I suggest anyone interested in health, obesity, food systems, and food policy check it out.
It raises questions about personal choice, family habits, education, and even the flaws in our federal policies and the USDA.But the biggest question I had was, “what were the lasting effects?”
A quick Google search revealed that Mr. Oliver has once again been in the news in recent days, as he continues to push for healthy foods in school food systems rather than chicken patties, pizza, and french fries.
The New York Times reported that the British chef has been chased out of the Los Angeles school district, where he had secured permits to film his second season of the television show. “Speaking at U.C.L.A.’s School of Public Health on Wednesday, Mr. Oliver said his filming permit was terminated because he could not promise the school district it would ‘look good.’”
And in further controversy, Jane Black from the Atlantic reported on February 11 that after one year of sponsorship, U.S. Foodservice, a food supply company that agreed to swap processed junk food for fresh offerings – and make up the difference in cost, had pulled the plug on their sponsorship. The company had welcomed him to Huntington, and “went one step further, offering one year of free food and cleaning supplies worth up to $25,000 to Huntington's Kitchen, the cooking school that Oliver established.” With the spotlight off of Huntington, the money dried up.
According to CNN, Oliver persuaded the British government to allocate more than $400 million for healthier school lunches after running a similar “food revolution” there.
So why is the naked chef so frequently caught with his pants down? Is it the powerful food lobbies? The USDA? Is it because sometimes, a french fry just tastes really good? I think it’s a combination of all of the above – but if we are, as a country, to improve our lot as the world’s heaviest nation, we need to look at the intersection of all of these programs, policies, and personal biases.