Monday, April 12, 2010

Food Revolution

While I do write quite a bit about such unhealthy foods as burgers, hot dogs, fair food and of course bacon, when it comes to my normal everyday eating habits, my choices tend to be fairly healthy. In fact, my lunch today consisted of rotisserie chicken, broccoli, a slice of whole grain bread and a glass of nonfat milk.

As with much in life if you are frugal and smart about your spending habits, you are able to indulge in larger items from time to time -- a new pair of shoes, a piece of furniture for your house or maybe even a vacation. It's the same for food. If you maintain a relatively healthy eating pattern for most of the week, you should be able to indulge in the delicious, not-so-healthy food from time to time.

I'm a little slow on the uptake, but today I watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolutions, which runs at 9pm, Friday nights on ABC. After the first few minutes I was totally hooked. The premise of the show is that British chef Jamie Oliver goes to Huntington, West Virginia, called the most unhealthy city in America, with the goal of showing people that it doesn't cost any more, nor take more effort, for people to eat more healthy.

In the first episode, Jaime goes into an elementary school to observe what the children are eating and how the workers are preparing. His visit, however, came after stopping by a local radio station to talk about his goals for this experiment. The disc jockey was very against the whole idea. "We don't want to sit around and eat lettuce all day. You come to town and you say you're going to change our menus and stuff. I just don't think you should just come in here and tell us what to do. I mean who made you the king?" said DJ Rod Willis.

It's funny to me that this guy's view of eating healthy is to sit around eating lettuce. I don't think it would be much of a revolution to come into a town and tell everyone that all they're allowed to eat is salad. That's absurd.

Following that radio station visit Jamie shows up at the school. The scene was disturbing. Children were eating their morning meal of pizza. Seriously, pizza for breakfast provided by school officials? I don't think I learned about pizza for breakfast until I woke up from a late night study session in college and there was nothing else available as I ran out of my room to get to class. The school scenes only got worse. Chicken nuggets, frozen this and that, and a whole load of foods with countless added preservatives. Another thing that alarmed me was the amount of food the kids throw away.

Aside from the elementary school, Jamie visited a local family. Everyone in the family -- mom, two boys and one daughter -- were obese. The father was a trucker and wasn't seen in this episode. The 12-year-old son looked older than the 16-year-old son. Jamie took the family's receipts from the past week then took all of the food the family had purchased, prepared it and displayed it on the kitchen table in one big heap. It was disgusting to look at.

Jamie told the mom that by serving her children that food, she was shaving years off her children's lives. She broke down and said, "I'm killing my children." No arguments from Jamie. Everything on the table was processed, fried and full of fat. There were no fruits and the only vegetable was potatoes. As a symbol of moving forward, Jamie and the family buried the fryer in the backyard.

During the whole show Jamie was met with resistance (other than the family, who seemed to realize there was a problem and were willing to work toward making a change). There was an extremely negative article written in the town paper, resistance came from the kitchen workers, principal and other administrators, and of course, when given the choice between pizza or freshly made chicken, even the kids resisted the idea of healthier food in their lives.

I am very curious to see where this experiment leads. I hope Jamie's work can help plant the seed of change for a more healthy America.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

It's funny about the opposition Jamie's facing. Eating healthy has this stigma. I have to say that since starting to eat healthier myself, my parents act like I am this bizarre weirdo. Like I am a leper because I try things like quinoa or organic whatever. I really don't understand it. I try to tell them how much better I feel when I eat healthy foods, but it's almost like they don't believe that you can get enjoyment out of things that are healthy. It is really frustrating. I mean, it's a miracle that I've managed to do this because I feel like I get no support from my family and am ostracized for it. Luckily I have a somewhat thick skin about it. But think about people who do want to make the change, and aren't thick skinned like me - they have to face opposition from their family and friends and have to be able to stand up to it. At the end of the day, I have a feeling most of those people give up eventually.