I got so jacked up when Jamie Oliver’s first season of Food Revolution was on last year. I had such high hopes for the outcome of his visit to Huntington, VA. Although he didn’t achieve his desired goal of changing the food in the schools of this city, he did make a lasting impression and changed the lives of many people who live there.
Jamie spent years in his home country of Britain changing the way schools fed their children. He has most recently been working with L.A. Unified School District – the nation’s second largest school districts – trying to revamp the school lunch program there for the second season of his show.
See clips from last season and previews here. The new season will start on Tuesday, April 12th.
Here are some of the highlights from last season in Huntington, WV: I love how Rhonda McCoy, director of Food Services, says that they don’t want to eliminate the sugary milk because kids won’t drink it without. If you remember back to just how bird-brained this woman is, she’s the one who told Jamie one day at the school that there weren’t enough vegetables being served that day (even though he and the staff carefully prepared and weighed all the vegetables to make sure there was the recommended amount), and said to add french fries because they are considered a vegetable (fried in rancid vegetable oil…YUCCKKKHHH!).
She’s also the one who said that things weren’t working out because the kids weren’t eating the food, and that if Jamie wanted the program to continue, he would have to do “a lot better than what he’s shown us in the first couple days.” Showing her complete aversion to a program that serves children healthy food, and the fact that she wasn’t even willing to give it time – which, with anything like this, time has to be given in order to instill good habits in children who have been used to eating junk for so many years. It’s not going to happen overnight. Jamie firmly impressed that we should give the kids what we should give them, and they’ll get used to it. Go Jamie!
My thoughts about the school lunch program
For many years I’ve been active and vocal about school lunch reform. I spent over a year in my own city spearheading an effort to change the school lunch program in my son’s district. We brought the film Two Angry Moms to our city. Then we went back to home schooling for a year and my efforts on that project stopped. Since then, even with the efforts of other parents, nothing has changed. Now my son attends a public charter school and there is no lunch program. I’m a co-chair of our lunch committee and we’ve spent our time on various measures to help the families of our school be more aware of sending healthy, nutrient-dense foods with their children for lunch. Last fall, we had two holistic health counselors come and give classes for the parents to help teach them some simple ways to prepare nutritious foods that will give their kids the support they need while growing and learning.
I see some of the obstacles to improving school lunch (besides the huge piles of government bureaucracy about funds and “standards” created by the USDA about fat content) being the fact that most of the staff in the schools are incredibly rigid about the changes Jamie wants to make. They have done things a certain way for so long, they just don’t want to make the needed changes – whether it’s because it takes to long to prepare something or it’s just something they are completely unfamiliar with how to prepare.
I have to say, cooking has always been a challenge for me. I’m still nowhere as proficient at it as I’d like to be and feel like a total novice. And yet, I prepare just about everything in our house from scratch that I possibly can. I’m certainly no master at traditional foods like fermenting or culturing vegetables or sourdough breads, and I’m not great at trying new recipes or procedures that are new to me. But I still make all our meals from scratch.
As one example, we’ve started making all our beans from scratch by soaking them at least overnight (sometimes longer) in filtered water and apple cider vinegar, and then cooking them and adding lard to make authentic, traditional refried beans. If you make large batches up at a time, you can freeze and use later. We also make all our stocks and bone broths from scratch. When I have enough raw milk, I make my own home-made yogurt. With a little planning, practice, and preparation, anyone can do simple things like this to improve the food they eat for themselves and their families.
What can you do to improve the quality of your child’s school lunch program?
- Get involved. Parents who make their voices heard cannot be ignored!
- If your child attends a public school, send your child healthy lunches every day.
- Use fresh, real ingredients and avoid processed, prepared, canned, and jarred foods. Use leftovers from last night’s dinner in a thermos or hot pack, send fresh meats, seafood, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, organ meats, whole milk yogurt, almond butter, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other whole foods
- Go organic or sustainable, if possible.
- Avoid processed, industrial meats, eggs, cheese, and fats like canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil (check labels). Do use traditional, healthy fats in your cooking and with your children’s meals like butter, lard, tallow, olive oil, and coconut oil.
How does healthy food support your child’s health?
Your child’s growing brain, nervous and immune systems, and whole body need nutrient-dense foods found in healthy fats and proteins to be successful in his or her future.
The USDA Food Pyramid recommends limiting calories and fats, and eat more grains. But this advice is actually counter to the foundations of health. Grains are not easily absorbed by the digestive tract, making the nutrients in these foods hard for the body to use. And, consumption of grains can actually lead to the loss of nutrients in the body (including the bones, where critical nutrients like minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron are stored).
Nutrients from fats and proteins are easily assimilated in the body and contain more of what children need for energy and growth, and foods containing fats are some of the most nutrient-dense available. Since fat is more nutrient dense and provides the necessary energy in the most efficient way, why are we not taught that these are the foods which are the most important foundational elements of our modern diets? People all over the world for thousands of years have eaten traditional fats for health and survival, and our children should too.
Vegetables are important for children, but they are seldom prepared in a way that can be most easily digested. Vegetables contain nutrients that should be accompanied by fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods for absoption, which is why serving salads with healthy fats like olive oil and vinegar or steamed vegetables with butter is so important, and makes them especially delicious.
Sign Jamie’s petition and join the revolution in your community!
Fed Up With Lunch – The School Lunch Project
Chez Panisse Foundation – School Lunch Reform
This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival
9 replies on “Don’t Miss Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – Season Two!”
I HATED Rhonda… she was so stupid! I’m excited for this season! Thanks for letting me know when it was coming on, because I never watch TV anymore so I haven’t seen any advertising for it. 🙂
I loved the last season of the show. I’m excited it’s coming back for another round. It’s great to see him using his celebrity status to fight for change.
City Share – yes, it’s true that we can certainly applaud those who use their fame for virtuous things – which happens so rarely. I believe Jamie is a kind-hearted person who uses his knowledge and authority well to educate people about healthier living, and although I admit there are some areas in which I think he could improve (like being more pointed about getting the point across about healthy fats and proteins – like butter, lard, tallow, grass-fed meats, poultry, eggs from hens on pasture, and raw milk), he’s still miles above what many other people/organizations are doing and he’s a hero for many people who are struggling with chronic health issues.
I am really enjoying your blog. I recently wrote a short post about Jamie Oliver as well. I do like him and the work he is doing. He is able to reach people who would not otherwise be reached because of his popularity and celebrity. You have to start somewhere with a message that people can handle. And I think he does just that.
I came up with an idea for reforming school lunches 20 years ago, but no one liked it, I guess.
I told the local school board to cut out school lunch programs all together. I’d rather send a lunch to school with my child (a healthy lunch) than have him eat the garbage from the cafeteria. Most other children would most likely be eating healthier foods if they brought it from home, as well, even if it’s total garbage! It would still have to be better to send an apple and a PBJ sandwich with your kid than to have them eat processed “beef” tacos, pizza, french fries and God knows what else from the school.
Of course, the idea went over like a lead balloon because that would cut more school funding (IOW they aren’t using the alloted money for “food” for actual food products anyhow) — so what ARE they using it for?
Tell Mom’s to pack a lunch — how hard can it be to put out guidelines for packing a healthy lunch? A lot less costly than feeding kids a bunch of crappy foods. The excuse is that some children will then not get a breakfast or a lunch. Excuse me, but since when is it the responsibility of the school system to feed children??
I forgot to add this: in our fair city, it is now mandatory for all children to purchase food tickets, whether they bring a lunch from home or not. I wonder what part of the word “food” applies to their “food ticket”??!!
Not to highjack this thread, but it is along the same lines to say that I’m far more concerned about how our infants are starting out. By the time they get to school, the damage is done, I fear.
I am an infant childminder. I have been doing this for 20+ years. I have three children of my own who are grown and gone from home now, but they were breastfed or supplemented with raw goat milk – thank God for my two gramma’s to help me with that information.
I just began watching a set of twins who are on this formula: http://abbottnutrition.com/Products/similac-sensitive
Just get a load of those first two ingredients. And this stuff is supposed to be for babies who are “sensitive”. At this age (less than 2 months) how would anyone even KNOW if they’re “sensitive” to anything??? It’s my personal opinion that they are probably reacting to the stupid formula.
Can’t we do better than this junk for our newborns?? I mean, c’mon. Can’t some company produce a formula without sugars and a list of synthetic vitamins as long as your arm? Earth’s Best and a few companies try to produce a healthier formula, but the prices are outrageous. As far as I’m concerned, the prices on ALL baby formula is outrageous, considering mother nature provides most mom’s with a free source – not to mention a much healthier source.
D – I agree with you. I think there’s a belief that the government should do everything for us, but so far we can see just how far some of those things have gotten us – case in point, the abominable quality of school lunches we now have for children to consume, and breakfasts as well. At my son’s school, we all pack our own lunches for our kids. It’s a public charter school with limited funding. Why is it though, that schools who do have funding cannot buy real food for the children? Why is it USDA approved, low-calorie, low-fat garbage? Because the standards are geared that way, largely due to bad science backed up by bogus research and is tied to commodity-sales to keep large corporations going. These standards have become more and more skewed as time has gone on…allowing the products that are sold to “fall under the guidelines” (and those are horrible guidelines, I might add), and fulfill some “requirement” for lunch and breakfast. The fact that we are compelled to serve foods that are not even real and in order to meet the low fat, low calorie standards must have more carbs or sugar added to them is abhorrent at best. Schools are always being threatened with having their funding cut if they don’t comply with the standards, so it’s no wonder they never make changes. Everyone also perceives that anything worth doing must need more $$. Why don’t they do better things with the money they have, instead of asking for more, and yet nothing really ever changes? The answer lies in the ties to commodity-farming and products. It’s all about the money. Certainly, they aren’t concerned with health.
D – I agree with your comments here as well. Our children’s health starts way before school age, before conception, actually. It’s as Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride states in her book, The Gut and Psychology Syndrome: if parents have poor gut health, poor lifestyle, and poor eating habits, this will come down in their offspring. And there’s really no way around it. Even mothers who breastfeed exclusively aren’t doing their children a service unless they are eating nutrient-dense foods – lots of healthy fats and proteins like raw dairy, lard, tallow, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed meats/poultry/eggs, seafood, organ meats, organic fruits and vegetables, cultured and fermented foods…and mostly, they’re not.
And those who are feeding formula are contributing many toxins to their infant’s bodies – percholate (from rocket fuel), found in most commercial formula, traces of halides like fluoride, synthetic vitamins and minerals, rancid, oxidized cholesterol from nonfat, powdered milk from cows on feedlots pumped full of hormones/antibiotics/pesticides/corn/soy/grain. How can a growing child possibly develop and thrive on those types of toxic chemicals?