Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Review: Series Premiere

By Steve West 2010-03-19 15:14:10 discussion comments
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Jamie Oliverís Food Revolution, ABCís newest reality program, wrenches at the heart more than Extreme Makeover: Home Edition did at itís peak. Following renowned British chef, Jamie Oliver, as he tries to change the food situation in Huntington, VA the show is as much an exploration of the problems with the food industry as a charming tale of an outsider trying to help the locals. More than anything the show sheds light on just how pervasive the problem is in our country, and how ingrained improper eating is to not just the kids but the adults as well.

Back when ďThe Naked ChefĒ first caught the eye of Americans he was full of charm and charisma; making cooking at home a fun event. Oliverís charm is still abundant, but in recent years heís taken to leading the charge on changing food. First he started in England, where his school food programs have been successful. And now heís looking to bring his ideas into a city that sees him as a meddling outsider.

Thatís where, as a television program, Food Revolution shines. Forget for a moment that what Oliver is trying to do is a monumental and necessary thing. What we see in the show is that the people of Huntington react caustically to the British interloper telling them theyíre doing it all wrong.

The premiere episode focuses heavily on the school lunch program as Jamie enters the kitchen of an elementary school, only to butt heads with the cooks. Sue, who doesnít like being called a ďlunch ladyĒ while falling into all the clichťs of being one, provides the antithetical argument to what Oliver is doing. Sheís the voice of a town that doesnít understand whatís so wrong with the processed food being served. When Jamie shows them a box of processed meat from the freezer at the school he asks what food is present, to which Sue immediately says, ďGround beef. Itís the first ingredient.Ē But as Oliver points out, there is a laundry list of unfathomable items that is in this so called food.

Whatís going on with the school food on the show is sad, and it happens at nearly every school in America. The countrywide problem is briefly touched upon when Jamieís planned fresh food meal is ruined by a lack of two-grain servings. The orders for the food donít come from a chef at the school; they come from the USDA. I also canít understand why any normal thinking person would serve a child both rice and bread. You donít need two starches at a meal.

Food Revolution takes a moment to tackle on a smaller scale what Jamie is trying to do when he visits a local family. He assesses what they eat on a weekly basis, then puts all of it on the dining table for them to look at (a moment that is exactly like what happens on the BBC America show You Are What You Eat). Afterwards he helps the family to start changing their food habits. Itís the one bright spot in the episode for Oliver, who is constantly beaten up by the locals.

But itís the very fact that he doesnít get spiteful when challenged that makes chef Oliver the best choice for this program. Heís on a mission in life now, but that easy going ďNaked ChefĒ many may still remember lies beneath his mission. He never forgets heís an outsider, and more importantly he never ever forgets that thereís a community of families who need someone to stand up and say that there needs to be a change.


Jamie Oliverís Food Revolution: Series Premiere
Starring: Jamie Oliver
Executive Producers: Ryan Seacrest, Jamie Oliver, and Craig Armstrong
Premieres: Sunday, March 21 at 10:00 PM ET/PT on ABC. Repeat airing in seriesí regular timeslot on Friday, March 26 at 9:00 pm ET/PT on ABC.
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