Jamie Oliver Wants to Save the World

Jamie Oliver wants to save the world. He's starting with Huntington, WV

I’ve just watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s show “Food Revolution.”  I share his passion for encouraging people to live healthier lives.  This will not be an unbiased post.  I want Jamie to win, I am actually praying for him to win.

The premise of the show is to drop a fish-out-of-water Brit into the middle of the unhealthiest city in the US.  Huntington, WV leads the country in heart disease, diabetes and obesity rates.  More than 50% of it’s population is obese, not just overweight, obese.

The Recap

The first episode focuses on the local school lunch program and the labyrinth of USDA regulations and USDA supplied food that the locals have to comply with.   The kids are served pizza for breakfast (yes, pizza) and chicken nuggets for lunch.  The first day that Jamie contributes he prepares a healthy chicken dish and goes head to head with the lunch ladies’ pizza.  The pizza wins handily.

The locals are less than thrilled with their status and show their defensiveness by lashing out at Jamie, he gets railed at in the local paper and on the local radio station.  Leaving him with tears of frustration at his lack of progress.

There are glimmers of hope as he convinces the Edwards family, (Mom, Dad and four kids) to bury their fry-o-lator in the backyard and begin to eat healthy.  He provides them groceries, a cooking lesson, a menu plan and recipes and promises to check back in with them.  Mom Stacy looks determined if perhaps a little overwhelmed.

He finds a kindred spirit in Pastor Steve, a local pastor who is sick of watching his congregation eat themselves into an early grave.  “When winter time comes every other week I’ve got a funeral,” he says.  At the church he flips through the latest directory of members and stops on every page to point to a name, a person who has died or has a serious medical issue.  He can’t take it anymore, he, like Jamie is fed up.

Are We At a Tipping Point?

I’d like to think that we’re at the tipping point of the obesity problem with people like Michelle Obama and Jamie pushing us to be better Americans.  It’s practically patriotic to eat a salad these days.  I wonder about my perspective though, I live in an affluent community where obesity is far below the national average and I’m in the fitness industry.  I not only cook organic, but I cook sustainably & humanely raised as much as possible.

That wasn’t how I was raised.  I was raised squarely in the middle class with a UAW Dad who worked on the line for General Motors and a Mom who drove school bus before switching to being a secretary.  I’m the first person in my family on either side to graduate college.  We had a vegetable garden, but everyone we knew did.  It wasn’t any big deal.  If it counted as being organic that’s just because we were too lazy to spray anything on the plants.

I don’t blame the residents of Huntington, WV for feeling invaded.  Even with the best of intentions it’s nearly impossible not to be defensive.  I sure would be, they’ve been labelled the worst of the worst, people have written essays about how the parents of Huntington are killing their children with hamburgers and french fries.  Would you welcome Jamie with open arms?

What Can We Do As Individuals?

So what it comes down to is not what Jamie is doing for Huntington but what are we doing in our own communities?  How can we help someone live a better life, even just a little bit?

This is the reason I started this blog.  To give people a little information and get them to think in a slightly new way.  Knowledge is power, ignorance, in this case, will kill you.

What are your thoughts? I would love to start a discussion and if you think it’s worthy, I’d love a Digg or a Stumble.  :-)

Thanks, and if anyone has a fitness question for me, please @me on twitter (@lisajohnson) or send me a message through the contact form, or just ask it below … I’m happy to answer just about anything.

Lisa

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About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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14 Responses to Jamie Oliver Wants to Save the World

  1. Kelly March 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Lisa,
    Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers! I did not have the chance to watch the show but found the info you shared makes me want to make sure to catch the next episode. When is it on?

    I’m very passionate about this topic as well, and will be looking for ways to include more posts about health and wellness on my blog.

  2. Heather Claus March 23, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    I am behind you all the way.

    I’ve never been “Teh Uber-Healthy,” but I’ve made a point of balance in my life and my food.

    Good luck!

  3. Mark March 23, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I’m not sure we are at a tipping point quite yet. Look at the controversy over Gabourey Sibide from Precious. This is a morbidly obese girl and nobody seemds willing to talk seriously about it. When Linsay Lohan and Britney Spears are stumbling around town drunk no one hesitates to point out their problem. Yet when someone has a problem with food we not only don’t face it we usually enable it.
    how many times have you said to someone on a diet “Oh you can take a night off?”
    would you say the same thing to an alcoholic or someone trying to stop smoking.
    Obesity is a major cause of the rising health care costs in this country and if we don’t start ttreating it as the real problem that it is there are a lot of Pastors that will be burying members of their overweight congregation.

  4. Lisa Johnson March 23, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    Wow, interesting point Mark. That’s a blog post all itself isn’t it?

  5. Joe Williams March 23, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Amazing, isn’t it? “Breakfast” pizza for breakfast. Chicken nuggets. No wonder. I applaud what Jamie is doing for Huntington and calling attention to one of the greatest threats we have out there – obesity. If only the health care debate will call attention to this aspect of our health, maybe we will see progress, along with what Jamie is doing.

  6. Lisa March 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ve been longing for a way to help my public school for several years now. The breakfast and lunch program is 100% canned and processed food. 40% of the student are low-income and therefore on free or reduced breakfast/lunch. So 2 out of the 3 meals they eat a day (if they even get an evening meal at home) are junk. Well-known studies point to how this negatively effects learning. It break my heart.

    I love Jamie’s wish, and was so impresed when he said “What changes this? Two one hour sessions.” So my wish is that there might be some serendipitous connection out there that could make this come together. I wish that someone (Jamie?) would make a free, downloadable course on “How to Teach Kids About Food.” Why? So that through downloadable worksheets, videos, and podcasts volunteers could be trained to teach this program in their local school. (How to cook and how to eat.) I would TOTALLY do this, I just need the training. And I would recruit my foodie Seattle friends to help. Maybe we could even talk the school districts into making it an offical part of the Science and Health curriculum?

    What do you say all you connected people out there? Who has the chops to produce this up right? Let’s make a real difference for our kids.

  7. Lisa Johnson March 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    And awesome comment Lisa. I like your idea … is there some way we can easily distribute this simple, simple information to the people who need it. Thanks for stopping by.

    Lisa

  8. Erica March 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    I am morbidly obese and totally agree with Mark. I have dieted before and lost weight. However, the “Oh just this time” leads to a whole downslide of eating the wrong things and the weight is put back on. I am addicted to food and I know it. However I have yet to find the way back to correct eating because it is a disease that I have. Just like alcoholism, trying to quit eating the bad things is very rough, especially the first few weeks.

  9. Lisa Johnson March 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks so much for your honesty Erica. When people consider their weight to be an addiction I definitely think working with the medical community to develop a plan is the best way out. Please keep me posted on how you’re doing and let me know if I can help in anyway. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. Ami March 24, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    I watched Jamie’s TED talk yesterday and I was so impressed. I’ve been thinking how important it is to improve school meals for a while now, but haven’t really had the tools or information I needed to back up my concern and push me forward into action. I think the more Jamie spreads this message the better, and I agree with Lisa that it would be fantastic to have a way to disseminate the information to volunteers and/or get the dietetic community on board to provide those two 1 hour sessions to elementary school kids. Let’s change this trend and provide kids with the opportunity for a healthier future!

  11. workout mommy March 25, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    great post!

    I watched it too and was just saddened by the horrible food these kids are eating! I am pulling for Jamie and hope that his revolution spreads around the globe. We need a change and we need it now!

  12. Char March 25, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Great post!! I also watched the one hour preview of the show and have already tivo-d the entire series so I don’t miss anything. After seeing the first episode it confirms why I gladly pack all three of my kids lunches everyday! While we still eat more processed food than I would personally like, I have a feeling we are on the healthier end of the spectrum overall.

    I’m looking forward to learning more healthy substitutions we can make and supporting Jamie in his quest to plant a major seed of change. I think every single parent in the country needs to watch this – if nothing else just to become better educated!

  13. NYCEsthy Karen March 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Great post, Lisa. I have had a mad TV crush on Jamie for years! You know you’ll be getting an incoming link tomorrow, right?

  14. Lisa Johnson March 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    You’re my new, super favorite person :-)

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