Friday, January 29, 2010

I ♥ Jamie Oliver

Many of you are probably familiar with the British Food Network star commonly referred to as "The Naked Chef." I used to love watching him dish up some easy meals, sounding so much more sophisticated than the average Joe American with his accented speech. Well, I now have a new reason to love this very much clothed chef. He's trying to tackle the obesity epidemic in the US by going to its root...our eating habits!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about school gardens and an article on school lunches. The latter is the first in a six-part series about DC schools' "fresh" lunch program. The reporter takes a critical look at what we are feeding children in this country, under a lens of both health and sustainability. I think it encapsulates a lot of what Jamie Oliver is trying to worn on with his TV show. I highly recommend checking out the articles:

Part 1: An intro to what fresh-cooked means in a public school lunch program ... and a reminder why I brought my lunch almost every day while I attended public school!

Part 2: Schools as a microcosm of what is wrong with our eating habits. Unhealthy options are one thing, but unrecognizable ingredients encapsulate the tragedy of the American Food System.

Part 3: How to get kids to eat vegetables. While Bruske details how cafeterias are trying to offer vegetables as options, kids just don't want to eat them. I don't blame them, when the vegetable side dish consists of frozen produces cooked into a damp mush and/or drowned in an oily sauce. It's difficult when these lunch programs are government subsidized and many of the children fall under the low-income category, but farm to school programs and taking a look at some innovative college cafeterias might get us moving in the right direction.

Part 4: Sugar found in unsuspected (and all other) places. Hello diabetes.

Part 5: This installment hit home for me ... how can a school consider itself "green" when its cafeteria and associated facilities are so definitively not?

Part 6: The wrap-up - provides a little history, a little perspective, and a little hope. If you read just one of these articles, make it this one. Hopefully, with a passionate First Lady and the Child Nutrition Act coming up for reauthorization this year, we can start combating some of our food apathy in this country. The expectation of cheap food is rapidly degrading not only our environment but our whole population.

In schools we educate children about math and writing, science and literature. But, for the most part, we are not educating students on how to eat well. Jamie Oliver is brave trying to tackle a whole city, from the young to the old, but if we want a real food revolution, training the next generation to eat REAL food (think Michael Pollan) is essential! Sorry this post was so long...just something I feel very strongly about.

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