There are so many things I want to say about this show, I’m not even sure how I want to begin.
If you don’t know anything about it, a quick overview: Jamie Oliver, aka the Naked Chef, took over the kitchens of a school in Greenwich to transform the ways kids ate– and to prove they would eat healthy foods. The program rippled to other schools in the area and the government pledged funds to keep school lunches healthy. Now, Jamie is in Huntington WV, the “unhealthiest city in America,” trying to bring about change there. He’s working with schools, with families, and he’s set up a kitchen in the town where people can come in and learn how to prepare healthy meals at home. And they are fighting him.
In my own life, I work to keep the crap out of my children’s diet. I struggle to maintain my own weight. I try to cook real foods most days. I buy organic. I won’t buy frozen meals, sugary cereals.
But it’s hard. It’s hard because my husband fights me, and it’s difficult to expect my kids to eat their veggies at dinner when he won’t. It’s hard because there are only so many hours in a day and pizza is just a phone call away. It’s hard because sometimes McDonald’s really is cheaper, and because the kids love it. It’s hard to spend time cooking a nutritious, from-scratch meal and then have everyone turn their nose up at the prospect of eating it.
I feel guilty about my kids’ diet– and really, it’s not all that bad.
I can’t imagine what it’s like for these kids who come from families that don’t even have healthy foods in the house- whose refrigerators are stocked with frozen dinners and whose pantries are full of processed snacks. Who don’t have access to reasonably priced farmer’s markets or decent supermarkets. Who can’t spare the time or the cash for real food. And who are being served reheated, processed crap in school 180 days a year for 12 years.
I was particularly affected last night by 12 year old Justin, who was found to be at risk of diabetes. He’s picked on at school. He apparently doesn’t see a doctor regularly. And when his father told him that he’s going to need to start being healthier, to lose that weight, he wanted to know how. How long it would take. That was the moment my heart broke, really. He’s 12. I’m sure he’s wished he wasn’t so heavy, but what could he really do about it? He’s 12. He only knows what he knows. He eats what’s there. Everyone in his family is heavy. That’s his reality.
Sigh. I spent some time last night checking out what other people had to say about Jamie Oliver’s new show. Much of it was positive. Some of it was nonsense like “What’s the point? Kids aren’t going to eat organic kale for lunch.” Others were irate at the notion of taxes providing for the “welfare program” that is school lunch. One particularly irritating video a “friend” on Facebook linked to, titled “The Case Against Jamie Oliver,” made the dubious point that we don’t need Jamie Oliver’s help: Americans eat “cheap, healthy” lunches every day– it’s called a Healthy Choice microwaveable meal.
I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why the people of West Virginia wouldn’t welcome Jamie Oliver in and give thanks that someone was trying to make those kids healthier. I don’t understand why there is a “Case Against Jamie Oliver.” I don’t understand people whose sole purpose in life is to be smugly contentious, to rag on someone trying to start a revolution, change the world.
This is a guy who is trying to make things better. Not just for his own kids. For my kids, and yours. He’s not trying to make them eat organic kale and hug trees. He’s exposing them to new foods that will make them healthier. He’s showing them another way of living– a way that is going to add years to their life.
Why does anyone want to make a case against that?
If you missed the show, please check it out– you can watch last night’s episodes on Hulu.
And if you do nothing else, consider taking hot dogs and chicken nuggets out of your kids’ diet. If they ask why, tell them it’s made from this: