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    Archive for the ‘Jamie Oliver’ Category

    Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Episode 3

    fromartz_3-26_campaign-imageWhereas the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution whet my appetite for the series, this one felt a little like two-day-old leftovers — still flavorful and reminiscent of what once was, but slightly overdone and not quite as memorable.

    Keep in mind these are not episode summaries.  They assume you have already seen the episode at hand.  If you missed the episode (or want to see it again), you can view it here.

    WHAT I LIKED:

    • The human angle. Jamie made an excellent point about the powerful effect that putting a human face and a human struggle behind an initially shocking, headline-grabbing statistic can do.  Hearing the high school students’ personal connections to obesity and illness as a result of poor eating habits revealed a whole new layer in this process.
    • USD-Huh? We once again are witness to the inane USDA rules that dictate school lunch.  A stirfry with seven different vegetables and a side of fruit does not meet “healthy school lunch” requirements, but a hamburger with a side of fries and an optional salad bar does.

    WHAT BOTHERED ME:

    • Nobody likes Jamie. The heavy-handed editing was too much for me at times.  We get it — the local radiostation DJ doesn’t believe in Jamie.  And, yes, we get it — Alice has no faith in Jamie and would rather stick him in a deep fryer than listen to his advice.
    • Carb attack! Jamie committed one of my biggest pet peeves — classifying foods as “carbs” and “proteins”.  Jamie pointed to a high school student’s tray, which contained a hamburger, fries, and a jug of milk, and said “Carb, carb, and milk on the side.”  It’s a silly complaint, considering that his dish (noodle and chicken stir-fry with vegetables and fruit) mainly consisted of carbohydrates.  Remember, fruits and vegetables are carbs as well.  What Jamie meant to critique on that student’s tray was the high amount of fiberless “starch”, not “carbs”.
    • Ratings grab. The “revolutionary” taking-away-of-the-fries from students’ trays who were already sitting down and eating was made-for-TV drama and slightly foolish.  If fries were such a problem, how about not offering them the next day?  Was there really a need to go around the cafeteria taking away fries from people’s trays?  Talk about food waste.
    • Duh-ruh-muh!I could have done without the whole “OMG, I have six totally inexperienced teens in the kitchen cooking dinner for 80 guests!  And one of them has left the kitchen!!”.
    • Chicken… again? Once again, I really wish Jamie would offer more vegetarian dishes and demonstrate that it is possible to have a filling and healthy lunch that doesn’t center around an animal protein.

    I hope next week’s episode gets back to the core mission, and isn’t as much of a reality show drama.

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    Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Episodes 1 & 2

    fromartz_3-26_campaign-imageOver the next few weeks, I will share my opinions on each episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (ABC, Fridays, 8 p.m.).  I encourage you to leave your comments and thoughts as well.

    These posts are not meant to be recaps; they assume you have seen each episode.  If you are Tivo-less or did not have a chance to watch an episode during its original run, you can always head over to the Food Revolution page on ABC.com.

    This week had a back-to-back twp-episode special.  I will comment on both episodes in this post.

    WHAT I LIKED:

    • Jamie himself! In a television land littered with over-the-top gurus (i.e.: The Biggest Loser’s obnoxiously tough-loving Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, Celebrity Fit Club‘s “I’m a tough former marine, hear me roar” Sergeant Harvey Walden, the overly-polished Dr. Oz), Jamie Oliver just… is.  Whereas two continuous hours of any of the previously mentioned “personalities” would be as pleasant as hammering my toes hard for me to sit through, I thoroughly enjoyed Jamie.  The lack of Chiclet-like beaming veneers, bulging muscles, designer clothing, and Stepford-ish manufactured quips is a breath of fresh air on network television.
    • Realistic resistance.  While we can’t forget this is reality television (we are shown a very small percentage of what was filmed, and it is presented to us in a very carefully edited fashion), I appreciated the realism depicted.  The Edwards family did not magically give up pizza and soda overnight, nor were the elementary school students begging for more of Jamie’s salad the first day they tried it.  This is precisely why we are talking about a food revolution; this is massive change that happens gradually.
    • Kitchen confidential: I was so glad that this show depicted what takes place — and, most importantly, doesn’t take place! — in school cafeterias across the country.  Unused appliances, bundles of frozen processed food ready to be reheated, and who can forget those artificially colored hygrogenated oil-laden potato pearls?
    • The bigger issue.  I initially feared that this show would be too “micro”, and depict Huntington school officials as the ones who had complete authority over what students ate.  While the school officials’ lack of questioning (and sheep-like following) of USDA school lunch standards was disturbing, I was glad that the show briefly touched on the bureaucracy that surrounds school lunch (the best example being that every lunch must contain two grain servings).
    • Dollars and cents.  The scene in which Jamie first met with the elementary school’s director of food services, ended on a powerful last note.  The camera zoomed in on the words “all about the $” on a whiteboard.  That served as an important reminder that schools in the United States are under very tight budgets when it comes to school lunch.
    • The first five minutes.  Pizza and sugary cereal floating in fluorescent sugar-spiked milk for breakfast.  You couldn’t have asked for more powerful — and horrifying — images.

    WHAT BOTHERED ME:

    • What happened to the 3 Rs?: The complete absence of recycling absolutely bothered me.  I don’t expect Jamie Oliver to tackle that as well, but my blood pressure rose significantly every time I saw a plastic milk bottle get thrown into a regular trash can.
    • Food waste.  I understand that showing the gallons of chocolate milk consumed on a weekly basis makes a strong point, but I never like to see food wasted for the sake of making a point.  A part of me hopes that the “chocolate milk” poured into that parachute was dyed water?  Maybe?  Perhaps?  Anyone?
    • Meat, meat, and more meat.  I wish Jamie would have prepared at least one meatless meal at the school cafeteria.  A bean-based chili, pasta primavera, or rice and beans would have easily made the point that a filling meal can be done without the presence of meat on a plate.  This is not about converting anyone to vegetarianism, but to help people think outside the prevalent “one meat and two veg” box.
    • Adults matter, too.  When Jamie discussed the cafeteria’s overly processed offerings to the cooks, he was met with “so what?” attitudes and responses along the lines of “I eat that all the time.”  In one instance, Jamie responded by saying “it doesn’t bother me that adults eat it.”  While I understand the angle this show is going for is the “think of the children!” one (which always strikes a chord with viewers), healthy eating is just as important for adults.

    I’m looking forward to next week’s high school episode.  It should present a larger challenge, since dressing up as a vegetable and doling out “I tried something new!” stickers are not going to prove effective.

    I am glad the show is tackling an entire school system, rather than only focusing on the much-easier-to-mold-and-entertain pre-school and elementary school students.

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    When Jamie Oliver Met the Grouch

    article-1260248-08D8ECC4000005DC-891_468x333In anticipation of the debut of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (Friday nights, ABC, 8 PM), the British chef conducted the usual talk-show rounds this week to drum up publicity.

    On Tuesday, he had his own segment — just short of seven minutes — with David Letterman.  A very grouchy, stand-offish, rude, condescending, dismissive, and uninterested David Letterman.

    The segment immediately took a nosedive into a C-list cliff when David Letterman conjured up Kirstie Alley’s name (you know, she of “my only claim to fame for the past five years has been gaining and losing weight while raking in millions”), in the name of “demonstrating” just how hard it can be to lose weight.

    In light of the hard work Jamie Oliver and his team put in while visiting West Virginia to improve nutrition status, especially among schoolchildren, the Kirstie Alley reference — especially using her as a supposed benchmark or representative of American health — was most unfitting.

    While Jamie Oliver futilely attempted to explain the concept of his show, Mr. Letterman opted to avoid eye-contact, shake his head, roll his eyes whenever the audience applauded for Mr. Oliver, and stubbornly state that “after five or six, ten or 20 years of trying to lose weight, there is nothing in this culture you can do to lose weight short of medication.”

    Buried somewhere in his Debbie Downer speech, Mr. Letterman had a valid point — that unhealthy food is super-accessible and affordable in “American” culture.

    However, the leap from that to “diet pills are the only answer” is reductionist and leaves out a multitude of relevant factors.

    Letterman then went on a painfully unfunny rant about how, if weight loss is the ultimate goal, people should simply go to a doctor to get pills.

    Later, in a cringeworthy tip-of-the-hat to the “those damn forners!” crowd, Letterman claimed that Jamie’s imported food revolution would go over as well on this side of the Atlantic as the metric system and soccer.  By the by, has Letterman heard of a little British import known as American Idol?  I digress…

    Continuing with the trotted-out-for-the-last-three-decades “funny” material about healthy eating, Letterman equated nutrition to consuming “ground-up seagrass or wheat germ or whatever you find in your pocket” and followed Jamie’s enthusiastic pitch about the show with a dour statement about how, when a supermarket offers you 150 types of cookies, “what hope do you have?”

    I understand Letterman’s talk-show is comedy based (at least, in theory), but I don’t find smug digs, anemic hosting, or presumptuousness comical.  If anything, the segment demonstrated how ignorance stifles conversation and debate.

    Thank you to Jenn DiSanto for informing me of Jamie’s visit to The Late Show with David Letterman.

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