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“This is the first generation of kids expected to live a shorter life than you.  Or...you guys can start kicking some ass.” – Jamie Oliver.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

There’s been a show running on ABC recently…about 6 episodes.  It’s called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  It appears to have been taped during the fall of 2009 in Huntington, West Virginia (which evidently was selected because of high child obesity data).  The show absolutely has a bit of Hollywood, a ton of editing, but I don’t think anyone can doubt Jamie’s (and the producers, who also includes Ryan Seacrest) intention to get the word out about change in our food for our children.  Their target primarily was school lunches for kids.  This isn’t a review of the entire show, but I highly recommend watching the season finale of the show.  It tells a serious story that I don’t think is isolated to a small town in West Virginia.  In fact, as I look at my daughter (7-years old) and her school lunch offerings, I see the same things of food choices.

I’m a bit of a documentary buff.  I love controversial topics.  Perhaps that is why I’m drawn to this.  I am also a fan of things like Food, Inc., King Corn, and other food-based documentary.  If you haven’t seen these and want a perspective on where your food in the US comes from, watch them.  Are they one-sided?  Perhaps.  Are they factually inaccurate?  I don’t think so personally.  But it’s good information, controversial or not – as it caused me to think about the food I eat.

Several years ago my father had a heart attack.  His third in fact.  This one didn’t go well.  He went into intensive care and his heart was damaged beyond repair.  He needed immediate help.  For 8 months he had an artificial heart and had to live in Tucson Medical Center in a hospital room for this time.  You see, an artificial heart sounds ‘easy’ but it actually was an external ventricle system attached to what looked like a washing mashing.  He couldn’t walk without an engineer pushing this washing machine sized thing with him.  In a fortunate/unfortunate situations a heart was made available and my father is alive today because of a human heart transplant.  Truly a miracle.  His history in his family is one of obesity, high blood pressure, and poor eating.  And I’m the next :-0.

According to the CDC BMI indexes, I’m overweight and bordering on obesity.  Seeing that word ‘obese’ is frightening because I don’t at all consider myself obese.  This January I started to change that process.  I lost about 18 pounds.  Getting it off takes dedication and determination, but I did it.  Now keeping it off continues to be a tough challenge, but I recognize a healthier and better feeling as the pounds come off.

Now when I see Jamie’s show, it hits home a lot harder.  My kids Zane (4) and Zoe (7) are my only children and as I continue to grow as a parent.  Things like music lyrics and television shows or only half the battle.  My kids’ diets are a concern in my family.  Unfortunately I’m victim to the same things every parent is, being surrounded by hugely convenient options over healthy options.  Breakfast at my house?  Waffles.  Lunch for my son?  Usually chicken nuggets.  Frankly he doesn’t eat anything that isn’t orange.  My daughter is pretty picky as well. 

Jamie also had an opportunity to present at TED and actually won the TEDPrice for 2010.  His talk is worth watching.

If you are a parent, watch these shows (they are free on ABC.com or Hulu).  Like I said, sure there is some Hollywood action happening, but the message and reality behind school lunches is real.  See if you are the same parent that packs the brown bag lunch of crap like I do.  Is a hamburger at lunch going to kill your kid?  I don’t think so, but all things in moderation right?  We, as parents, need to help our children make the right food choices and provide a healthy lifestyle at home first as we know they won’t get it elsewhere.  It starts at home.  Period.

I’m grateful that Jamie and Ryan produced this Food Revolution show.  It was both entertaining and informative.  I hope that others can join in the ‘food revolution’ that Jamie brought awareness to in their own homes and communities.

Sorry for the distraction from the normal technology geekiness…but this ‘food revolution’ has struck a chord with me as an important thing to ensure I shared.  I’m going to try to start making changes at home.  I know it won’t be simple, I know it won’t be convenient, but I also know that my children’s health is MY responsibility.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

4/26/2010 12:42 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
I follow your blog for the technical geekiness that it is, but this post deserves some recognition.

I live in Portland Oregon (Considered to be a healthy state) but I was not raised in the U.S. After watching Food Revolution and seeing what happens in some American schools it scares me to think that my children are going to be going to school in the U.S. starting next year.

Thanks for spreading the awareness.
4/26/2010 1:12 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
Since you mentioned "King Corn" and "Food, Inc.", I thought you might find this youtube video educational, too:

"Sugar: The Bitter Truth", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

4/26/2010 2:22 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
I'm posting from the hospital. I've been here several days. In the last 7 years I've had 7 heart catheters and a high-tech bypass called MIDCAB (Minimally Invasive Direct Cardiac Artery Bypass) performed by a wizard of a surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The costs for all that were close to a half-million dollars. Though genetics played a role, the largest part of the blame goes on me. I eat fast food or restaurant food too many times a week. When I do eat a home cooked meal, it's something too starchy or too fatty.

I followed Jamie's progress religiously. I was shocked at what I learned from it. I also watched the documentary, "Food, Inc", which, if you haven't seen it, will make you reconsider what you think you are eating compared to what you are actually eating.

Unless you have a personal chef, it is quite difficult to devote the time and attention it takes to find and cook the proper foods in the average grocery. I spent several weeks in Korea and people there shop the markets daily. The markets have produce, fish, poultry and meats which are fresh and straight from the farming community. The food is quite tasty. The US simply isn't setup for health. It's setup for convenience. High Fructose Corn Syrup is in everything. Personally, I can't eat a hot dog because all I can taste is the sweetness of the bun. The same with a household staple like Campbell's Tomato Soup.

Daily I think about the void in the market and ways to fill it, but it is just not cost competitive to produce products until the demand can be done at scale. Tim, I hope you recruit your smart associates to get on board and spend an hour a week thinking up ways to get real food back in style.

4/26/2010 6:12 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective

It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to get worried ...
4/26/2010 11:58 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
The way to curb the trend is to cook for your family. My wife made me cook for us when we first got together, and although it was a pain initially when I didn't know what I was doing, it's great now. Fortunately, it's also a lot easier and more enjoyable than the other half: exercising :-).

I don't know what motivates you (or anyone else), but the way I did it was by being really competitive about it - I was going to be a great home cook, better than everyone else. So, I started watching the food shows, etc, and started cooking. While I'm maybe not the best ever, I still manage to feed the family and can control what is consumed.

Anyway, that's the best I can advise: just start cooking. It'll be slow and not so great at first, but you'll get better with time.
4/27/2010 1:22 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
On a recent extended trip to the US, I was shocked at all the processed over-salted, over-sweetened crap food people ate. Perhaps this along with your health care system is why you on average can now expect to live 3 (yes that is three) years less than say an Australian.
4/28/2010 4:17 AM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
Being a Brit, Jamie Oliver isn't new, and we've had a number of similar campaigns over here. Primarily, we had Jamie's School Dinners that went as far as Number 10 asking for the government money to invest in healthier choices at the school canteen. It worked, and the government ploughed millions into improving the menu in each school in the UK.

Now, he has come under some criticism, especially when heading a campaign for healthy food one month, then advertising cakes and mince pies on a Sainsbury's advert over Christmas. His heart is in the right place though, he's an advocate for good food that move away from the traditional junk food a lot of people shove in their mouths. He cares passionately about what he does and his website really does have the best set of recipes on the web, and I recommend having a look.

A good article, but concerning, especially the idea of feeding kids waffles for breakfast, and hamburgers in their lunch. I appreciate I come from a different culture (albeit, if still only a slightly different one), but this seems unreal to me. I hope this was an example of a treat day.
4/28/2010 5:16 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
Good for you that you are becoming aware of what you eat. Giving your son chicken nuggets to eat? Wow. That's really bad.
That's like hitting your car with a hammer every time you use it. (Or worse, since you can replace your car but not your body.) Or throwing sewage water on the plants in your living room. Or leaking oil in your back yard.

America getting fatter and fatter is another proof that "the market works" is nonsense. Unless, of course, you are in the grave-digger business.

By the way it's not hard at all to find out what "food" is harmful to you. Just go to the gym regularly (say every third day) and measure your performance. If you don't perform at least as good as last time, you have eaten junk (unless you got sick).
5/19/2010 12:11 PM | # re: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from a parent’s perspective
It is people like Jamie and companies like these: www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BC3796CB622E57BB

that are going to make future generations much healthier.

And Phil, unfortunately what was described was not a "treat day". This is all too average for everyday kids, and sometimes it is even worse.
7/7/2011 9:47 PM | # 
unfortunately what was described was not a "treat day". This is all too average for everyday kids, and sometimes it is even worse.
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