Tonight’s the official start of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” and I’ll be sitting riveted just like I was Sunday night during the sneak preview. The show has been getting a lot of buzz since then. Good, bad, defensive. I weighed in on the critics in a post earlier this week, and the commentary* has continued all week long. But what’s getting lost amid the snark is that we shouldn’t be treating our kids like mindless eating machines who aren’t worthy of real food. Children need nutrition, not government-subsidized calories disguised as nutrition. The only reason kids get stuck in the rut of eating so-called “kid food” like chicken nuggets and colored milk is because that’s what adults think kids eat. And adults think that because food marketers have made it so easy to turn off the common sense and reach for the quick fix.
There are some truly effective things happening with school food at the grassroots level. And it’s nice (though not nearly enough — not even close) that the U.S. Senate agriculture committee on Wednesday approved the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which includes improvements in school lunch funding.
But we have miles to go. Serious, carbon-generating, long-haul-trucking kinds of miles. And if Oliver can keep people talking, that’s got to be a good thing.
* Two of the more thoughtful recent critiques, both from Civil Eats contributors: Debra Eschmeyer and Kerry Trueman.Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2015 Christina Le Beau
Yay!!! I wish i wasn’t working tonight! I really want to see it live so i can yak about it with everybody! the link you posted even has a petition with a map of the US of people who have signed it. So far it is up to 62, 099. I hope more and more people sign by the end of the series and we can get this country slimmed down and eating right!
I also have a Food Revolution badge in the right column of the blog, at the very bottom, where people can click and go directly to the petition.
I’m so torn on the whole thing- I think that schools are in DIRE need of better and healthier food for kids, but I feel like there is a lot of shame and watching the show just makes me sick because I think it fosters a sense of “Oh how silly and sad these people are, I can’t believe they actually thought/ate/fill in the blank.”
There is a fine line to walk between shaming these kids/people and actually helping them learn to eat and love healthy food- eating disorders are on the rise, and I fear these attitudes don’t help. I feel like Jamie Oliver just has this holier-than-thou attitude about food, and that the show is making it seem like that is OK, and it’s not.
Long story short I think we definitely need to work on learning to eat more healthfully, but I don’t think this reality-TV shaming attitude is really helpful to long term change. It just contributes to the dieting culture.
I really appreciate your comments. Even though I support the show and the idea behind it, I had a hard time watching some parts last night precisely because of what you describe. I kept wishing there was more explanation of how we got here in the first place — the government subsidies and profit motives, the faulty food science, the misguided nutritional requirements. I wanted people to understand that the problem is so much bigger than themselves. I realize there’s only so much they can do in an hour-long show, but I’m hoping some of that gets discussed later.
I actually didn’t get the dieting-culture vibe. Someone on another message board pointed out that having Jamie Oliver do the show was probably more effective than having it hosted by “some skinny vegan.” I think there’s something to that. Oliver clearly enjoys food, and he doesn’t exclude whole classes of food beyond calling for real instead of processed stuff.
I came here from a comment on Huffpo. I only wish you had more posts here. I’m a convert– my kids love chicken nuggets and I just hate it. I’ve taken recently to pre-making my own chicken nuggets. Out of breast meat and breadcrumbs and keeping them in the freezer for convenience. My kids like them. They like anything in nugget form. It’s crazy.
Thanks for checking out the blog. The nugget thing is crazy. But if you tell your kids why you make your own instead of buying the pre-fab processed stuff, then the nugget shape is sort of inconsequential, you know? Kids like to eat with their hands. They think it’s fun and they’re all about sensory experiences, which includes touching their food. So I wouldn’t worry about pulling out the occasional homemade nugget.
(I’ve been doing the blog for two weeks, but I’m trying to add two to three posts a week. Hope to see you again.)
i LOVE your comment that kids are stuck because it is what we, ADULTS, think they’ll eat. so true. how many times before you even get a word in at a restaurant does the waiter turns to your kid ‘oh we have chicken fingers. . .and would you like fries with that?’ it’s like autopilot. how did we get here?
i believe kids are completely capable of eating a wide range of foods especially if you just start that way from the beginning. i have a 7 year old and a 17 month old and i’ve tried to make a point of consistently feeding them what we are eating [ie. from sushi to grape leaves to salmon to whatever]. it’s not perfect, and although they are very different personality-wise, for the most part i am finding their eating patterns and willingness to try new foods to be similar—that gives me hope.
BUT one of the consistent struggles for me is finding the time [and quite frankly energy] to pull together a homemade meal every night after working all day. i need a game plan long before 5:00 hits, and rarely does that happen. a friend introduced me to the crock pot, which is cool, but i need a game plan that starts on monday and works for the whole week.
in the end, i really do feel we have ourselves to blame for this dumbing down, and it is going to take turtle steps by parents to make a revolution happen. don’t look for the government to figure it out. we need to. and we can start like you mentioned above—mindful eating. just telling kids why you are making something with fresh ingredients, engaging them in conversation about the ‘why’ and engaging them in cooking itself is super powerful. and we need to get back around the dinner table [without the iphone and blackberry], myself included.
so thank you for writing this blog and thank you jamie oliver for starting the conversation. looking forward to more good things to come.
Even our regional culinary center, which has a restaurant that specializes in local foods, offered our daughter chicken fingers. They’re on the menu at Chinese restaurants and other ethnic eateries, too. Insane. My favorite thing in restaurants, though, is when waiters ask kids whether they want chocolate or white milk. Huh? It’s just milk, not white milk.
I really appreciate your thoughts and look forward to seeing you again.
I’m right there with you! My kids don’t eat “kid” food. No reason to. I feel bad for parents who are sucked into thinking that their little ones will only eat chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. (Although in the case of grilled cheese at least it’s got a little nutritional value!)
I am a early childhood educator. I had a preschooler in my childcare centre who would only eat hotdogs and that was what he brought to eat everyday. He was being raised by his grandma. I had to speak to grandma and she was very angry at me for suggesting that hotdogs everyday was not meeting his daily nutritional requirement. Grandma argued and was adamant that was what the child would only eat. In final frustration with grandma I asked her how a four year old could decide what food was brought into the house and was prepared>??? Now I realize the child was very fussy and demanding and stubborn, but still in the end who is the adult in the home??? I wont be popular with my next comment, but i have found the kids who were most difficult with behaviour were from families (like grandma) who were too lazy to parent or were so self centred about themselves that they just didnt get the harm they were causing to their kids. If the adults arent grown up then how can we expect the children to do well? If parents can open a box of junk, then they can prepare a healthy easy meal. It doesnt have to be difficult or time consuming…..and there are so many books, internet etc. out there with info. Its cop out for those who choose to not feed their kids better and its not more expensive as a parent of 6 children, I do know how to feed my kids economically and well and we dont eat junk, unless you count take out pizza once in a while. And I work and I cook. But my kids do dishes and help with prep so we all share the work!!
I love this. I love that you are talking about it, that the show inspired your conversation, and that you’ve linked to Food Revolution Fridays. LOVE!
Years ago Jamie Oliver said on one of his shows that if you assume that all kids will eat is “kid food”, and feed them only that, it IS all they will eat. If you insist on high quality, nutritious, GOOD food, then they will learn what actual fresh food is and prefer it. That’s when my son was 6. I took that idea and ran with it. He’s now 14 and doesn’t like fast food or junk, but instead will eat everything from hummus to sushi, curries, salads, you name it.
I do believe in moderation. Meaning, if we want a treat and have a choice between pop or chocolate milk, we went with the chocolate milk. I love ice cream, but we have low fat frozen yogurt. We do have home made cookies in my house too. It’s about achieving a balance, and fresh vs completely processed, I think.
I do have to point something out to Laurie. As a school staffer myself, I hate to judge parents based on their kid’s lunches. Low income families often struggle with lunches because junk food is so cheap that they can send their kid with a cup of dried noodles and a pudding (cost: $.50). The kids have no control over who packs their lunches, or if they are packed at all. The parents may just not have the skills, and need help.
Christine, I make up meal plans once a week at Everythingmom.com and you are welcome to pop by and ask questions if you need a help with planning or getting organized for a week! I think there is even a contest going to win a meal planning system!
What’s funny is that I didn’t even know who Jamie Oliver was when I got the idea for this blog. Then, over the course of the year it took me to get going, I became aware of him and his work, and found his philosophies aligned perfectly with mine (right down to the concept of “kid food” — a huge personal pet peeve). So it was a fortunate convergence that I finally launched right before the show was about to start.
I think you and Laurie both make valid points about the role of parents/grandparents in packing kids’ school lunches. Yes, some parents just are not equipped with the information they need to make good choices, but the unfortunate truth is that other parents just don’t care. I’ll never forget something I read in a guest post on the Fed Up With Lunch blog, which chronicles one anonymous teacher’s quest to eat school lunch every day for a year. In that guest post, a lunch lady answered readers’ questions, and among other heartbreaking observations, she noted that too many parents “do not care what the kids eat — they just want them out of their house.” And, as we saw in the final episode of JO’s “Food Revolution,” the lunches parents packed were shameful, despite that district’s efforts to educate parents. So I think we need to acknowledge this reality.
BTW, I’d say you should enjoy that ice cream! So long as it’s made with real ingredients, it’s better for you than low-fat frozen yogurts that almost always contain scary additives and fillers. And saturated fat isn’t the evil we used to think it was. Sure, the ice cream is going to have more calories, so that’s a consideration if that concerns you. But I wouldn’t automatically assume that ice cream is bad. (And good ice cream is oh so good.)
Just wanted to update my point about saturated fats by including an article published in the May 2010 issue of Scientific American: “Carbs against Cardio: More Evidence that Refined Carbohydrates, not Fats, Threaten the Heart.” Well worth a read.
christina, well said. and REAL ingredients, well, that is all the difference. i mean have you ever tasted homemade pistachio ice cream? it’s undeniable.
and thanks scatteredmom for the link. much appreciated. love connecting here.