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 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.