What's up Earth Eats fans! It's been a while since I've penned anything for the blog, but when I was asked to give my thoughts on “Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution” I couldn't pass it up.
As someone who spends a lot of his time writing about television, I was happy to see a series like this come on the air. And actually, most of my interest in the series comes from my time as an intern with Earth Eats.
Without that experience last summer, I probably wouldn't have cared – and I think that's representative of the situation throughout much of the country. Many of us are aware of the obesity problems, the school food problems, and what have you, but like Jamie says in hour three of "Food Revolution," it's just black and white, paper news reports.
For The Best?
So if it takes this series to open up the eyes of Americans further, then isn't it for the best?
Through three episodes, I've been appalled, surprised, disturbed, angry and on a few occasions, happy based on the events I've seen on-screen.
I'm coming to the series from outside the foodie movement (coming to the series I had no real predisposed notions aside from “people should eat healthier."), but I've browsed the web for various criticism and praise and I figured it would be best to engage with some of this criticism.
Being detached from the movement and viewing the series as a bit of an outside, the some of early criticisms of the series seem valid.
Yes, it is easy to waltz into one of the unhealthiest cities in the United States, cause a little chaos and claim “REVOLUTION!” And yes, it's easy to use the manipulations of reality television to make the effects seem more drastic and to tug at our heart strings.
Time To Get Angry
But sometimes, that's just what it takes to open the eyes of the uninterested or disenfranchised.
I don't care how ridiculous or manipulative the series might be at times – GET ANGRY! – when I watched the elementary school kids fail to identify vegetables, my heart broke.
Or when the lunch lady talked about how they don't teach/allow the kids to use forks and knives – those were two of the most shocking things that I have seen on television in the last year.
Maybe these situations are outliers – heck, the entire town of Huntington might be an outlier – but if Jamie Oliver would have came to Bloomington, Indiana and faced students and citizens who were, on-average more knowledgeable and more engaged about food issues, that wouldn't have made for good television, and it wouldn't have been as poignant or attention-grasping.
People around the U.S. need to wake up to what's happening in their communities, in their schools. It surely isn't as drastic everywhere else, but there are elements of the problems depicted in "Food Revolution" all around the country, in towns big and small.
The Revolution So Far
Is Jamie Oliver really, truly starting a “revolution?”
Eh. Like some of the other critics of the series, I think he's probably piling on to something that is already happening in many parts of the U.S.
The fact that he is magnifying these problems for everyone to see is what is truly important. He might not be starting the revolution, but if the series gains some momentum, he could be the catalyst for a more widespread acceptance, media coverage and potential reform.
So you might not be completely happy with how the lunch ladies are portrayed or how the series always attempts to make you cry, but you should certainly be excited that it exists on a major broadcast network at all.
The movement is definitely not new and a revolution isn't being started with this series, but it definitely will be helped by it.
And at this point, I'm not sure we could ask for much more.
Cory Barker was an intern with Earth Eats last summer and is currently a journalism student at Indiana University and aspiring television critic and scholar. You can follow him on Twitter (@corybarker) or read his blog "Weekend Watchers" on the Indiana Daily Student website.