Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: The Chicken Nugget Fiasco

In episode two of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” our intrepid “Chef Guevara” has to defend himself and his mission to the locals. The town paper has printed quotes out of context and Jamie goes back to WDGG to defend himself to DJ Rod. He makes a concerted effort to explain that he has nothing but respect for the people of Huntington, but if the reaction of the school lunch ladies is any indication, he’s going to have to work hard to win everyone over.

With so much of the focus being on the food kids are eating, he brings a gaggle of children to his “Jamie’s Kitchen” storefront for an experiment, he says to the camera, that “never fails.” After cutting the “good parts” off a whole chicken, he proceeds to chop the remaining carcass into bits and toss it (bones and all) and some excess chicken skin into a food processor. The truly disgusting chicken parts “pink souffle” then gets cut into nugget shapes and fried in a pan with oil. And even though they’ve just seen what ingredients went into it, all the children but one said they’d eat it.

Jamie shakes his head to the camera, exasperated. “Great, so there you go, the whole experiment failed.” His only solace being that the kids acknowledged the food was “bad” but they’d eat it anyway because they were “hungry.”

For his next attempt with the kids, Jamie dresses up as a big pea pod to sell his new lunch program at the school.  You’ve got to give him credit; he is selling it hard, to the lunch ladies, the administration, and the kids.  It’s a very sweet and funny image to see him running on the playground in his green felt outfit as a large group of kids chase after him.

But ultimately, if the kids don’t eat the food, the school administration will kick him out, especially since his food costs three times more than what they normally spend.  For his second try at lunch (cheesy tuna pasta and rainbow salad), there’s quite a bit of food the kids don’t eat that gets tossed at the end of the period. Jamie finally connects on his third day with a beef enchilada and officials give the go ahead for 2 – 3 more weeks of his menus. He happily passes out “I’ve tried something new” stickers to the kids (and the teachers).

Another disheartening scene happens when Jamie visits some first graders who can’t identify the vegetables he shows them, even staples like potatoes and tomatoes, unless they’re in the form the class knows them better as: french fries and pizza. There’s a happy ending, though, as a visit a few days later finds the teacher having successfully taught the kids to recognize all their veggies with the kids quickly calling out eggplant and cauliflower with no problems at all.  An education has begun.

A quick trip back to the Edwards family raises Jamie’s suspicions.  Despite the fact that Mom Stacy claims to have faithfully cooked all the meals, there is a lot of healthy food left in the fridge, and Jamie spies a fast food container in the corner of the living room.  So he trucks them off to the doctor for checkups to see their overall health.

A very scary scene ensues (I was welling up) when their middle son, 12-year-old Justin, discovers he’s at high risk for diabetes and, at the rate he’s going, could possibly die in his 30s.   Jamie brings Justin to the Kitchen Center to give him a cooking lesson and have a little heart-to-heart.  There’s real hope here, as Justin truly wants to live a healthier life and lose the weight.

The biggest scene featured a gathering of parents and children behind the school to show them an aggregate amount of what they’re currently eating. Huge buckets of grease and chocolate milk; piles and piles of sloppy Joes, french fries and nachos; even a dump truck full of processed fat.  Jamie uses this to demonstrate to the parents just how bad the food is that’s going into the kids’ bodies and he clearly changes some minds.

There are glimmers of hope, but Jamie still has a long way to go.  After two episodes, there are two big issues he’s facing. He’s not just an outsider, Jamie is a “foreigner,” and the town seems to be having a particularly hard time swallowing advice from a Brit.  The other big issue is that habits are hard to break. The people of Huntington know they need to change, but incorporating those changes into daily living is an entirely different matter.

Do you struggle to make the lifestyle changes you know you need to in order to live healthier?  If so, check out The Five Steps to Getting in Shape.

What did you think of the show?  Have you been inspired to act?  What actions would you like to do for your community?