One of the more riveting snippets of television I’ve seen recently was an episode of the second season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” on ABC. I had heard of Oliver before, but didn’t really know all that much about the reality show/celebrity chef or realize that he was trying to incite a revolution.
After watching his show, I’m prepared to take up his cause.
By way of background, Oliver is a British chef, restaurateur and media personality who became famous in the late 1990s for his show “The Naked Chef.” In the decade-plus since, he has used his growing prominence and visibility to create a campaign and a foundation that promote healthful cooking and eating, both in the U.K. and, more recently, in this country.
In “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” which premiered in 2009, he goes to different low-income school districts in the U.S., trying to change the way school kids eat by educating them and their parents about all the bad things that junk-food consumption does to the body.
In the episode I saw, Oliver was working with a group of 17-year-olds in an inner-city public high school in Los Angeles - a school, by the way, that is supposed to be relatively good. Using poster-size flash cards, he gave the kids a multiple choice quiz on their basic food knowledge, and their answers would really be funny if they weren’t so sad.
He asked one student, for instance, whether cheese comes from a cow, corn or macaroni. The student guessed macaroni.
He asked another whether guacamole comes from avocados, apples or corn. The student answered, (Can you guess?) “Apples.”
Yet another asserted that butter comes from corn, and a fourth thought corn dogs grow on stalks.
The show’s producers didn’t just pick the worst respondents out of the bunch to air for the sake of reality TV. Several students got the answers right, thankfully.
But the fact that so many 17-year-olds who, as Oliver pointed out, are old enough to drive and almost old enough to vote for president, didn’t know that butter and cheese are dairy products suggests something is terribly awry with our educational system and our culture.
I can’t help wondering how kids in our area would fare on such a quiz. I’d like to think that being from south Louisiana, with its rich culinary traditions, they would be better versed than their peers in Southern California. But I bet we’d find just as many ill-informed students - maybe even their parents - who don’t know what they’re eating most of the time, much less where it comes from.
That’s why I’d like to join Oliver’s revolution and do whatever I can to help educate our children and their parents. I’d like to partner
with local school systems and use the resources we have in this community to help increase awareness of basic food knowledge so that children and their parents can make better choices of what to eat and how to prepare it.
We owe it to future generations, and anyway, we will all benefit in the long run. Anyone interested in joining?