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Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” Debuts To Mixed Reviews

Chef Jamie Oliver's new television show, "Food Revolution," premieres tonight on ABC, but the show has already met with cynicism from comics and critics

Jamie Oliver on David Letterman

Photo: youtube

David Letterman expressed his cynicism of Jamie Oliver's plans to reform the way Americans eat during Oliver's appearance on his late night TV show.

TED Prize winner Chef Jamie Oliver’s new reality television show, Food Revolution, premieres tonight  on ABC  at 8 p.m. EST.

In the first episode, he arrives in Huntington, West Virginia, supposedly the site of the worst obesity rates in the world, in an effort to transform the way the local residents eat.

Food Revolution airs at a time when the movement for school lunch program reform has been heating up, as evidenced by the much talked about debut of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and the Senate Agricultural Committee’s recent passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Preview Met With Cynicism

But the show has already met with cynicism after a preview of the show aired last Sunday evening. The Washington Post published an unfavorable review and David Letterman peppered Oliver with humor-laden pessimism during his guest appearance on Letterman’s late night show:

God bless you but here’s what I think will happen. I think that the species will evolve to the point where 1,000 years from now we all weigh 5-600lbs and it will be OK.

On a more serious note, Marketing and Media Director of the National Farm to School Network Debra Eschmeyer expresses her fears over on the blog Civil Eats. She says that Oliver’s glamourized and sentimental attempt at school lunch reform could actually hinder the already established grassroots “food revolutions” already underway throughout the country.

Eschmeyer says that her biggest fear is that the show’s subtle criticism of “lunch ladies” (as Oliver refers to one of the school cooks in the premiere — she promptly corrects him), will alienate these much-needed allies and dissuade them from participating in school lunch reform efforts.

A Revolution Already In Progress

Eschmeyer concludes on a hopeful note that Oliver’s food revolution can work with advocates for school food reform throughout the country toward their common goal:

In sum, Jamie, instead of trying to “start” a revolution, start supporting the one that’s already going on! I will watch hoping that you do.

Watch The Preview And Decide For Yourself:

Read More: Jamie Oliver: Stirring Up a Food Fight (CivilEats.com)

Laura Bult

Laura Bult is a spring intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University majoring in International Studies, with minors in English Literature and Spanish.

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  • http://www.glutenfreemaui.com/ Amanda

    They are lunch ladies. That's what we all grew up calling them, and everyone knows this. They are cooks too, but to kids and to those of us who grew up calling them as such they will always be lunch ladies. I have certificates in cold pantry, prep, and short order cookery and I have considered becoming a lunch lady because I support the efforts of the head chef at the nearby high school as he is trying to do what Jamie is doing.

    I think the most important thing people need to get out of his show is that their children are being fed crap. They are being overfed on carbohydrates and fats. They are being overfed on meat and underfed on vegetables and fruit. I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I am an omnivore.

    I think most criticism is coming from people who simply don't like change. In fact, nobody likes change but we learn to accept it or cope with it. I've had to cope with changes in diet in my life due to celiac disease, so I know that giving up certain foods is hard, but I ended up gaining a lot more than I lost. Change, even if it is in our own best interest, is not greeted with open arms.

    But, we should greet the information being given to us about our school systems with open arms.

  • http://www.glutenfreemaui.com/ Amanda

    They are lunch ladies. That's what we all grew up calling them, and everyone knows this. They are cooks too, but to kids and to those of us who grew up calling them as such they will always be lunch ladies. I have certificates in cold pantry, prep, and short order cookery and I have considered becoming a lunch lady because I support the efforts of the head chef at the nearby high school as he is trying to do what Jamie is doing.

    I think the most important thing people need to get out of his show is that their children are being fed crap. They are being overfed on carbohydrates and fats. They are being overfed on meat and underfed on vegetables and fruit. I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I am an omnivore.

    I think most criticism is coming from people who simply don't like change. In fact, nobody likes change but we learn to accept it or cope with it. I've had to cope with changes in diet in my life due to celiac disease, so I know that giving up certain foods is hard, but I ended up gaining a lot more than I lost. Change, even if it is in our own best interest, is not greeted with open arms.

    But, we should greet the information being given to us about our school systems with open arms.

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  • A Brit

    'Eschmeyer says that her biggest fear is that the show’s subtle criticism of “lunch ladies” (as Oliver refers to one of the school cooks in the premiere — she promptly corrects him)…'

    After seeing 5 episodes I fail to see any criticism of any lunch lady except for Alice, because she is constantly complaining and, unless you think she was forced to say it, asking stupid questions, like whether British kids honestly use knives and forks.

    Also, the term “lunch lady” is clearly not meant to be insulting in any way, and taking offence is another example of the problem with Alice's glass-half-empty attitude. Jamie is just trying to translate the British job title “dinner lady”, which is not viewed as an insulting title in the UK. Alice chooses to take it as an insult because that's what she expects it to be. That's not Jamie's problem, it's hers.

    Yes, it's a TV show, so when Jamie walks into a room and meets someone, he isn't actually doing it the first time, and that kind of scene is reshot from different perspectives and to deal with any audiovisual problems that occur the first time round. However, in general what happens, happens. Yes, there's editing and music to make Alice the evil character, etc., but that's just something that is highlighted. What she says on tape she must have actually said. Sometimes context makes a difference, but not in any of the shows I've seen so far. The only person screwed by decontextualisation was Jamie, who was reported as talking about 'these people' as if he meant the whole of the town/state/country, when in reality most of what he was saying was about the family that he goes to visit, who are obese. Even then he specifically says they are not stupid, just uninformed and untrained – there's a world of difference. I'm not stupid, but when it comes to astrophysics I'm ignorant.

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