Has a Food Revolution Begun?

by Melissa Diane Smith

(Opinion) We desperately need a food revolution and there are indications that one may have already started.

First lady Michelle Obama is spreading the word around the country about making better food choices in her anti-obesity campaign and she just planted her second organic White House vegetable garden.

Last week ABC News reported that a coalition of Chicago high school students went to a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education to speak out against their school lunch menu. The students are fighting against the nutrient-poor, frozen and highly processed foods they are being served in the school cafeteria. Some students were quoted as saying, “Nutrients are missing. Calories are high. Sugar is high,” and, “Parents rely on schools to give their children nutritious meals, not tan-colored slop.” In addition, they said they rarely see any vegetables being served.

A month ago at the Natural Products Expo West, Robert Kenner, director of Food, Inc., spoke about how he feels like he is part of a growing movement now. “Usually I make a movie, talk about it for a few months, and then move on to the next movie,” Kenner said. “But there’s something different with this. There is something amazing going on. It feels like a grassroots movement has started and it’s exciting to be part of it.” His movie, Food, Inc., is now the number one selling DVD is the United States.

Just last week the television series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, started airing on Friday nights. The premiere show scored big in the television ratings, being the dominant #1 series telecast in the hour and beating NBC’s Dateline by one million viewers. Food Revolution registered as the highest-rated Adult (18-49 years old) premiere for any network on Friday nights since September 2007.

I am encouraged by all these signs and do think the tide may be turning in the fight over our food. If you haven’t yet tuned into Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, be sure to check it out on Friday nights all through the month of April. Jamie Oliver is a chef from England who went to Huntington, West Virginia – what was dubbed the unhealthiest town in America because of its rate of obesity. The show follows him as he tries to make changes to the food that people make, eat and are served in that city.

Although the show is not about grains per se, it’s pretty clear that Jamie Oliver is trying to get people to eat more vegetables and fewer grains. My favorite part of the first episode was when he came up with a lunch menu for the elementary schoolchildren at one school in town. Jamie had brown rice in the meal but no other grains, and some official school-lunch program overseers looked over the plan to see if it adhered to “government guidelines.” It turns out his menu did not meet government rules because they say that lunch servers have to serve two grain options at every meal. Once the school-lunch monitors had left, Jamie said on his show that the government regulations were rubbish. He said that forcing kids to have two grain servings at every meal is just going to make them fat. That’s something I have said repeatedly in my books and on this blog, but I thought, wow, it’s nice to hear someone else spreading the message. Let the force be with this growing revolution!

References:

Food Fight: High School Lunches, ABC News, March 24, 2010 – view story

Kenner, Robert. “Food After Food, Inc.” presentation at the Natural Products Expo West, Anaheim, CA, March 11, 2010.

Copyright © 2010 Melissa Diane Smith

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