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)