I have to say I’m pretty happy that Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” series concluded last week, not because I didn’t enjoy watching the show but because writing up my recap and review each week was a daunting (if entirely self-imposed) task. I certainly didn’t expect to be writing about J.O. again so soon, and you, too, might be crying “uncle” when it comes to another Food Revolution post.
However, this morning I found two new comments on the blog left by a reader named Dana — whom, I should mention at the outset, is not Dana Woldow, the San Francisco school food reformer who often comments here and is no great fan of Jamie. This other Dana shared quite a few interesting links pertaining to the show, and for those of you who were getting down into the Food Rev weeds with me, you might find them interesting.
For one thing, I’d speculated in my last recap and review that the much-lauded “new menu” for which Jamie seems to take credit in the season finale was actually in the works well before Jamie’s arrival in L.A. It turns out my speculation was correct — Dana shares a letter to LAUSD parents from outgoing superintendent Ray Cortines (before Jamie’s revolution began) which makes specific mention of these new menu items. You can read that letter here.
Dana also shared a recent (June 16th) cover story from L.A. Weekly entitled, “Why Los Angeles Schoolkids Get Lousy Meals,” which I found eerily reminiscent of some of the problems we discuss on Houston ISD’s Food Services Parent Advisory Committee. The piece doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions, but I thought it did a great job of capturing the current, entrenched problems in school food, at least in large, urban districts like L.A. and Houston. (L.A. Weekly chose not to quote Jamie Oliver in that piece but instead published a companion piece of nothing but twelve quotes from Jamie, some of them quite colorful. Dana shared that, too – it’s here.)
Finally, Dana provided a link to this piece, “How TV Superchef Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food Revolution’ Flunked Out,” which I’d read before and have even cited on the blog, but which I hadn’t re-read in full in a while. It’s a trenchant, well-researched critique of the show’s first season by Arun Gupta, and as I read it again this morning — with my own Jamie Oliver season two critiques fresh in my mind — I was nodding vigorously over my cup of coffee. I think it is just dead on in laying bare the serious flaws in Jamie’s reality TV approach to school food reform, and in outlining the real causes of bad school meals — issues Jamie basically ignored both this season and last.
What’s the upshot of all of this information? Just a reminder that school food reform is a highly complex, multi-faceted issue (or, to quote Jamie in last week’s episode, a “beastie”) that unfortunately isn’t susceptible to a quick and easy fix pre-packaged for television viewing.
Thanks to Dana for sharing all these links with us!
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