The night that the preview episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution aired, the show was interrupted to announce that the health care bill had passed. My thought, "Get back to the REAL change in health care that Jamie Oliver is trying to start!"
I am very focused on nutrition, I'll admit it, and even though universal healthcare (not the health care bill that was passed) is a dream of mine, I don't see that happening any time soon. When I see an actual change, then I'll be interested. Better nutrition will also happen the same way I suppose though, because it's not something that can be changed overnight or with one British chef and his adorable accent (I just want to pinch his cheeks and muss up his hair!).
Sadly, as the show has progressed, I'm seeing that even this "revolution" is really just tiny baby steps in the right (?) direction. At first, Jamie condemned the fried chicken, pizza, and french fries being served up in the school of Huntington, WV and I was right behind him. But when his solution was chicken drums made from scratch, spaghetti and meat sauce with cheese on top, and most recently sloppy Joes (made from scratch and therefore much healthier), I wondered what Jamie's understanding of "revolution" really was. Am I just a crazy Yankee for wanting a revolution to mean huge changes, a complete overhaul, and raucous cheering? Probably.
I understand what Jamie is doing. I do. I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) and I studied the educational theories of Stephen Krashen. His teaching of Comprehensible Input is that the teacher must use the i+1 model of giving the learner the vocabulary they already know, plus only 1 (meaning a limited amount of new information) so that they learn it completely and add it to i, their existing knowledge.
So what Jamie is doing makes sense. You take "chicken" as the children know it, and alter it just enough so that they now understand that "chicken" means the meat rather than a breaded and fried food item. He's changing "sloppy Joes" from something completely sugar laden and filled with preservatives, ad showing the lunch ladies that "sloppy Joes" can be cooked meat and a homemade sauce (presumably still containing a large amount of sugar, but not the same types or levels as the processed sloppy Joes). It's hard for me to watch this and imagine how this change is really going to change things long term. Now, you have a bunch of kids who think sloppy Joes are a healthy food. Add some mashed potatoes, a salad covered in homemade ranch (but still fatty ranch) and you have a "healthy" meal. That kind of crap makes me crazy!
But then in the next scene, there Jamie is getting flavored milks out of the elementary school. He is arguing with "the powers that be" who believe it's more important that kids drink the milk with more sugar than soda so they get their calcium, than they risk having kids not drink the milk because it's not sweet. How about giving them something like fortified orange juice (I know, still full of sugar) or soy milk? How about not only preventing diabetes, but heart disease too!?
I know everything takes baby steps, especially when you have the warped nutritional values of the USDA to contend with, but it's not fast enough for this mother. I am so grateful to be able to provide nutritious food for my daughter, but not everyone had the resources or priorities to do that, and it's not fair for children to suffer the consequences. As usual, the lower income children are punished for their parents' situations.
My point in all this is that I suppose we should all sign Jamie's Petition for healthier school lunches, but we should also support the Healthy School's Act that many members of PETA are also promoting. There is a lot left to do, but let's do something.