By Jackie Kolek, PepperDigital
Jamie Oliver's new TV series, Food Revolution, makes its debut on ABC tonight.
I caught the sneak peek on Sunday, and the show is disturbing, disgusting and
depressing. Oliver goes to America's "unhealthiest" town (Huntington,
WV) to try and change the way people eat. He starts his quest at a local elementary school that is serving appalling meals, including breakfast pizza
and fake mashed potatoes called "potato pearls." Oliver can't win.
The "lunch ladies" try to justify their menus, and he gets little
support from school administrators focused on following USDA guidelines that
require two breads per meal (why, no one knows). Oliver also visits a home with
three obese children and their even heftier mom. After requiring the mom to
show him everything her family eats in a week, he is shocked to see neither a
vegetable nor fruit in the mix. Nothing but golden fried items on this family's
menu. The highlight of the show is when Jaime forces the family to bury their
deep fryer in the backyard.
Everywhere you turn these days, there is another show or news piece about
obesity – World's Fattest Teen, One Big Happy Family, Obese and Pregnant. The proof is right in front of our eyes. On a
recent family vacation, my 4-year-old daughter participated in a kid's fashion
show that included a swimwear walk. The number of 4 – 7 year olds with bulging
bellies was shocking. But the question remains, who is at fault? Is it the
schools serving up processed meals? Is it the fast food restaurants marketing
to kids? Is it the proliferation of video games creating a couch potato nation?
The reality is that it's time for parents to stand up and take responsibility
for the health and well-being of their children.
As Food Revolution shows, it's not just about school lunches or deep fryers in
our kitchens. There are many forces at work – dwindling school budgets; busy,
working parents; an abundance of easy, fast, unhealthy food; insufficient
government guidelines; etc. Everyone is to blame. But, at the end of the day,
parents get to decide what their children eat, and we have to set the example
early in life.
I live in an affluent and health-conscious town. Yet, our school lunches are
just as bad as anywhere else. Pizza, hot dogs and chicken nuggets are daily
staples. Therefore, my first grader is allowed to buy lunch
just once a week.
The rest of the week, we pack healthy lunches from home. McDonalds? My kids are
allowed to go once a year. TV? Maximum of 2 hours of screen time a day
(including video games). I am by no means perfect and am just as susceptible to
fall for quick solutions as anyone else, but my husband and I have made a
commitment to living a healthy lifestyle (with the exception of my addiction to
Crystal Light), and we are very serious about setting an example for our
children. It takes work, and it takes planning, but we all have to put that
effort in if we intend to raise a new generation of healthy, active and happy
As for Jamie Oliver, I wish him luck on his quest. I'll be tuning in to see if
he can change the hearts and minds of those folks like that family in West
Virginia. They seem to love their children, but they might love their deep