If the folks from Huntington, West Virginia seemed huffy at Jamie Oliver’s arrival to their city last year, it’s nothing compared to the brick wall that Jamie and his ABC show, “Food Revolution,” slammed into in Los Angeles.
Perhaps it’s the savvy of the school board, perhaps it’s the legacy of season one that showed Jamie begging for opportunity at the West Virginia school district’s expense, but the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) wants absolutely nothing to do with Jamie Oliver.
Sadly, it seems that not many parents really care either. After radio show appearances and email blasts to thousands of people, a few dozen concerned citizens came forward to help. It was hardly enough o an impact for the vast LAUSD to care about or need to pay attention to.
Jamie tried to highlight the ugly
After comparing a greasy, beige pile of food collected from local schools that day, Jamie treated the parents to “pink slime.” This is Jamie’s term for the scraps of meat left over after butchering. Called trim, this scrap used to only be sent to factories for dog and chicken feed. Now, however, manufacturers have figured out a way to separate the fat from the meat, douse it with ammonia to kill germs, add food coloring, and grind it up to look just … like … hamburger.
This lovely mixture is found in up to 70% of the ground beef products in the U.S. and each pound of ground beef can contain up to 15% of this concoction. EEEEWWWWWHHHHHH!
One of the worst things about school lunch programs is the prevalence of flavored milk. According to one faceless official, “When flavors were taken out of the school, students overall milk consumption dropped 35%.”
As Jamie pointed out, “If you dip food in sugar, people will eat more of it.”
To demonstrate his point he gathered a group of about 15 people (he was hoping for hundreds) and filled a bus to overflowing with sugar to demonstrate how much kids ingest per week, just with flavored milk, in the LAUSD. It was a powerful message, but I’m not sure it made much impact.
Fast food makeover
Jamie also tentatively befriended Deno Perris, owner of Patras, an independent fast food restaurant, in Los Angeles. Deno definitely wants the exposure to his little restaurant, but he’s not willing to mess with the grease-filled menu that keeps his family fed. He even admits that he won’t serve the same food to his kids but is happy to dish it out to his customers.
Jamie offers him a better (and much pricier burger) and Deno balks at the price. Together they bring it to a customer who agrees it’s better. When Deno asks the customer if he’ll pay $2 more for it, he says no and picks up his old burger.
One shocker for me: Deno pays $1.75 for a pound of hamburg from his long time supplier (willing to bet it’s got that 15% pink slime in it …) and tells Jamie his better tasting burger is $3.90 per pound. He and his customers can’t afford that much of a price increase.
So Jamie’s pretty darned disappointed in episode one. It looks like he’s going nowhere fast. If he’s educating anyone, it appears to be the viewers and not the city of Los Angeles. Is he just preaching to the choir or are there people tuned in who want to learn more about healthy eating and doing right by their kids?
What do you think? Is this a lost cause? Will Jamie pull it out? Where are all those celebrities and their leverage when he needs them? (Oh, right, they all send their kids to private school …)
Let’s start a discussion going,