Big Love to the Food Revolution!
“French fries count as a vegetable.” Aiy yai yai, are you kidding me??? While I’m keenly and painfully aware that we’re in a crisis of epidemic proportions, hearing this one was just too much for me. Sadly, this was the mindset of a school in Huntington, West Verginia, a town that not surprisingly has been given the terrifying title of the unhealthiest city in America.
If you are not yet watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, it is 2 weeks into airing on Friday nights on ABC, and is a MUST WATCH for the entire family. With 8 out of 10 Americans over the age of 25 overweight, and 1 in 5 children considered obese, there should be no question that we are spiraling out of control as a nation. If we don’t take massive and immediate action, I know I’m not alone in fearing that we will pass the point of no return. In fact, it is speculated that at this rate, our children are the first generation expected to NOT live as long as us! Now that’s scary stuff!
In the most recent episode, I watched as Jamie’s beautiful, nutritious and wholesome stir-fry, which had at least 7-8 servings of vegetables, got pulled off the lunch line by the supervisor because it didn’t meet her state-mandated requirement of 1 ½ cups of veggies. So what got put back on the line to fill that volume? You guessed it….the incredibly healthy, all mighty French fry!
Wow, wow, wow. Do you have the same mixture of heart-wrenching sadness and rage that I have? If not, tune in to the show and take a look at the crew of high school students that have volunteered to be Jamie’s personal ambassadors in this mission. Get ready for a serious tug on your heart-strings. One girl has lost her father and her uncle to obesity. Another is fighting her own battle, having exhausted her perceived options, and seeing this as her last chance to turn around her doctors recent report to her that she is not likely to live past they young age of 30 (which is how old I am, and the thought of this being the end of my life sends chills straight down my spine). And as each teenager shared their story, it was quite evident that they were sharing the stories of children across America.
There is no question in my mind that it is time for a national revolution. It will not be easy, but at the same time, like anything, the longer we put it off the harder it will be to effect change.
So what needs to happen? Well here’s what Jamie Oliver has to say:
“This Food Revolution is about changing the way we eat. We need to start cooking again, to make sure our children don’t grow up on a diet of processed food, at school or at home, and so they won’t have to battle obesity and diet-related illnesses when they grow up. Cooking is one of the most important skills a person can have and it has been proven that families who cook together eat better. A small change in your kitchen could save the life of someone you love. America needs to do something now, before it’s too late.”
By starting in one town, Jamie is hoping to create a domino effect across the country. Is it possible? Obviously there are monumental challenges staring us in the face, from government bureaucracy to the deeply ingrained beliefs and patterns of those most in need. On that note, the one thing that seemed to almost hinder the success of Jamie’s operation was an approach that was too jarring to kids who are used to eating fried chicken nuggets and pizza every day. There’s a part of me that thinks a softer introduction and a more creative approach, a la Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious, might be more effective. However, he did get approved to continue with his mission in Huntington, so a glimmer of hope remains. And a look at the success Jamie had in the UK with similar grassroots efforts is further inspiration to me that this truly is possible, and hopefully to you as well.
It may be only one small step, but we all know what “one small step for man” means! Jamie was able to completely overhaul the entire school dining system in the UK, so the kids are now enjoying fresh ingredients and balanced meals. And I would venture to say the shift in energy, attention and focus has greatly improved the kids capacity to learn and retain new information….not to mention the life-changing health benefits that will dramatically improve these kids quality of life today and into the future!
The bottom line is, it’s time to GET INVOLVED. While Jamie is getting into the schools and working with the kids directly, it is important to keep in mind that it is NOT the kids at fault here. Kids are open-minded and impressionable, so it’s up to their teachers, mentors and parents to not only educate but to make food and cooking FUN! If you have kids, visit their schools, see what’s being served in the cafeteria and start the conversation. Take your kids to the grocery store and let them pick out a new fruit and vegetable of the week, and then go home and involve them in the preparation/ cooking. I love what Jamie has to say about this one ~ read labels, and if it’s not something you’d find in grandma’s pantry, don’t buy it! And if you’re completely new to this concept, commit to just one meal a week that you cook from scratch. As with anything, starting small is so much better than not starting at all!
And if you need some addition incentive to get involved in the revolution, be sure to also watch the movie Food, Inc. Your eyes will be opened (although at times you might wish they hadn’t been!), and hopefully your mind and your heart will also be opened to the magnitude of change that is needed. Here’s the great news though ~ we live in an amazing country filled with passionate and inspiring change makers! It’s up to us to turn around this massive health crisis. I am whole-heartedly supporting Jamie’s revolution, and invite you to do the same. For starters, you can sign the petition that Jamie plans to take to the White House: Sign Petition Here
And in Jamie’s words, “Fingers crossed, Up the Revolution! Let’s see what kind of trouble can cause in this beautiful country. Big Love!”