“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” Gets the Cold Shoulder

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!

Flavored milk

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.

Disappointment

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,

Lisa

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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4 Responses to “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” Gets the Cold Shoulder

  1. Leaving Fatville April 13, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    I’d like to say I’m shocked at the parents’ non-response, but it’s becoming all too apparent that people want to stay ignorant of their food and its origins. It’s easier to stay in the dark and just do what’s easiest or what fits into our schedule best. It’s no wonder we as a country are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. I can only hope the rest of the episodes show some people finally giving a damn about healthy eating.

    Also, I’m so grinding my own hamburger meat. Ewwwwwww.

  2. Lisa Johnson April 13, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Major ewww on the ground meat … I had actually read about this before but it’s an entirely different thing to see it done in front of you.

    As for the parents, once you make the adjustments it’s just as easy as what you did before. There’s definitely some experimentation as you figure out what your family likes and what works for everyone but it’s not that big a deal. Two weeks after implementing changes you won’t even think twice about it.

  3. Bonnie Sayers April 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    I am an LAUSD parent and also a volunteer secretary for a special ed committee for parents in LAUSD and I go at least twice a month to the Beaudry Bldg downtown – LAUSD headquarters.

    I do not listen to Ryan Seacrest (prefer Carson Daly on Amp radio) so maybe that is why I did not know about this beforehand. Also LAUSD has three weeks of winter vacation so they did not go back to school until Jan 10th.

    It was strange that the first event he had many parents at and then the second thing with the parking lot had only a dozen.

    I am on twitter and facebook and not one email or notice to me about Jamie Oliver. They did not even show where his kitchen is.

    This morning the LA news media were invited by LAUSD to visit the main kitchen and have been talking about the new menu coming out next year.

    I finally found the menu online a few weeks ago to see what they serve. We have wanted food services to come speak to our special ed parents for awhile to cover the topic.

    LAUSD parents were not fairly represented at all in the show last nite. I did not watch the first season and just saw commercials so knew it was about LAUSD.

  4. Lisa Johnson April 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Bonnie, thank you for your comments, I appreciate your honesty and giving perspective to last night’s show. May I ask if you’ve noticed changes in the food lunch program for your child? What do you think of the menu you saw on line?

    Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate you joining the conversation and hope you will again as the season unfolds. I can, unfortunately, only see what the TV producers edit down for me. :-)

    Cheers,

    Lisa

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