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Food Revolution: Should There Be A Second Season?

Earth Eats contributor Cory Barker looks back at the first season and asks whether or not Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" should return for a second season

food revolution kitchen


With the television cameras and producers gone, there is less pressure to do the “right thing,” especially for people who had trouble doing so in the first place.

A few weeks removed from the “Food Revolution,” I thought it would be nice to take stock of the series’ influence and discuss whether or not it’d be worth it to bring it back for another pod of episodes.

It seems everyone who is up on the issues knows that the battle over school food was happening way before “Food Revolution” aired this spring on ABC, making the overall effect of the series certainly less influential than Jamie Oliver himself might claim.

In The Spotlight

However, as I’ve noted on a few occasions, any televised spotlight that the fight can get should be welcome.

But the problem is what happens after the series goes away.

Those people who were aware of the issues beforehand will still be aware, but the crucial – and sad – point is that many who didn’t really get invested until the program started are likely to forget about it by mid-summer.

Heck, there could be a good amount of them who have already let it go – and it’s only been a few weeks.

We saw that happen in Huntington, the place where all the intense work was being done, at the end of the first season.

With the television cameras and producers gone, there is less pressure to do the “right thing,” especially for people who had trouble doing so in the first place.

What can we say about the people who were watching at home?

Maintaining Interest

I wish I would have remembered to track the number of people who were signing Jamie’s petition on the web site from back when the series was airing new episodes, because then I could officially say that the number of people signing up now has slowed down, but I can’t.

However, we all know how quickly our culture loses interest in things, especially when it comes to “big” issues. Even as someone at least partially aware of these problems beforehand thanks to my experience at Earth Eats, my interest in the series waned enough in recent weeks that this post is just now coming to your eyes.

A Second Season?

So that’s why I think the series needs to come back.

The first pod of episodes was just the first taste, the introduction to all of these issues. It’s cynical to assume that our society needs a yearly batch of episodes to remind us of the problems around us, but it wouldn’t hurt to hedge and make sure theses issues – school lunch reform, the obesity epidemic, etc. – stay fresh in people’s minds.

From ABC’s perspective, the ratings were initially very good for Friday nights and ended on an okay note, but viewership does tend to drop once it gets warmer outside, especially on Friday.

Moreover, the series is surely cheap to produce, maybe not the cheapest type of reality series, but still less than a scripted series. And finally, it’s a good-feeling brand to have in your pocket – not every network can say they’re helping stop childhood obesity in America.

If “Food Revolution” doesn’t come back, those people fighting the good fight will surely continue to do so, just as they did before the series began airing March.

But to keep everyone else engaged some sort of content needs to continue, whether if it’s the program proper or some additional online content/updates.

Because, despite the fact that it was still a traditional (read: manipulative) reality program, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” brought issues to the forefront of public consciousness that everyone should know and care about.

Cory Barker

Cory Barker is a summer intern for Earth Eats and senior IU student from Hartford City, Indiana. He is double majoring in journalism and communication and culture with a minor in business.

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  • Arlene Bond

    My children complained about the processed “junk” food at school 16 years ago, I can't imagine how bad they are now. Go Jamie!!!!! I watched you in Huntington (I was born in West Virginia) and I was so frustrated when you were talking healthy food for CHILDREN and most other people in the school district were talking rules and numbers without taking nutrition into account. Seemed to me that what the children were actually eating was secondary and incidental.

  • John Turenne

    Thanks for a good overall perspective Cory. As the president of Sustainable Food Systems, the chef/consulting company who was charged to go into the schools and develop new menus and recipes and train the staff, I can honestly say there has been significant improvement and support to the initiative. Take the food service administration. They have come out and said this was needed and they truly want to get help from the USDA in changing the 'parameters' of the ingredients they provide from highly processed to more fresh and whole food. And the Cooks have to a person come out and said what we did was necessary and the right thing to do.

    I agree that the public needs to continue to be exposed to these crazy school food issues. As one of the leaders in the reform of school food, I can say you are correct in that we were here before Jamie's show and will continue to do our work now that it's over. But it doesn't hurt to have a a program like the Food Revolution making the general public sit up and take notice.

    John Turenne
    Sustainable Food Systems LLC

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