I just wanted to point and laugh at fat Americans. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution concerns his journey to Huntington, the unhealthiest city in all of America, where he plans to convince the whole town to, y’know, stop being fat bastards. I’ve been to America and there are some fat fatty fat fats walking the streets and malls. Does living south of the Canadian border cause one to automatically gain 50 lbs? Or do they have to give you injections?
Indeed, Jamie visits a family where the deep fryer is the most used appliance (Jamie throws a “funeral” and gets them to bury it in their yard). He backs a dump truck full of fat and pours it into a dumpster, telling horrified parents “This is how much fat you eat in a year”. He encounters some prickly personality, including a radio DJ and some outspoken lunch ladies, who tell Jamie they flat-out do not want him there. He takes a family of fatties to get diabetes tests and — surprise, surprise — they are all on the verge of getting diabetes if they don’t have it already; I think the boy is about eleven?
That said, will you think me horrible when I say it was surprisingly good television? Good enough to watch the next one at least. I shook my head at the stupidity of these ignorant Americans. The elementary school was feeding the children pizza for breakfast every day. How stupid are these people? My Fucking God! You idiots! No wonder you’re all going to die early. The next morning I made breakfast for Nathan and myself, reheated some frozen pizza from last nights supper—
I mean, wait... wasn’t I just, last night? Yeah, I was making fun of... No, I mean, it’s not like I feed my child this every day. It’s just that we had it last night and there’s leftovers and... I’m not a bad parent, am I? No, I’m not.
Mind you, none of the idiots on the television think they’re bad parents either.
Within a few episodes I stopped seeing the kids as stupid fat Americans and began seeing them as what my son could be like ten or fifteen years from now, if I wasn’t careful. Militant even. The people of Huntington aren’t stupid, they were just short on time and/or didn’t know any other way (not unlike myself). It is so easy to ignore the consequences of processed food, ready-made meals and eating whatever they serve at the drive-thru window. Like those in the town of Huntington, Jamie had invaded my home and was making me a bit squeamish.
There are no villains in the Food Revolution. It’s a documentary (in reality tv format) of Jamie’s arrival in a town where he meets a bunch of normal people. A few rush to see the celebrity and get free cooking lessons, most are indifferent, others are pissed off he’s there. Imagine someone doing a documentary on the town/city where you live that focuses on what a terrible place it is as a result of the terrible choices everyone living there is making. Or some asinine celebrity coming to where you work and making your life and job annoying difficult because he’s got a television show to make. What a prick, eh?
At the heart of the show is Jamie Oliver. His demeanour is the opposite of the article you’re currently reading. At no point does he call anyone a fatty fat bastard. Truthfully I don’t get much joy out of that either. It was the amazing person that is Jamie Oliver that caused me watch more than a single episode. He’s just like, this guy, y’know? Not a pompous ass, just some guy that I can easily see going for a pint with. Nice bloke. But also driven.
It becomes very clear, very quickly, that he’s there to improve people’s lives. To save lives, like that of the obese 16 year old girl diagnosed with 6 years to live. He cares deeply about trying to make a fundamental change in the people he meets and have that change spread to everyone and everything. He did not do this to make another television show. He made an Emmy-award winning television show because he felt it was the best way to reach people. It must’ve worked; it reached me.
It’s a documentary about a man trying to start a movement. I said there’s no villains in the Food Revolution but there are people who oppose him. This is actual reality television; no eat-the-live-insect challenges. When the radio DJ rips Jamie a new one on air, he really meant it and that really happened. The weeks march on and what happens with that radio DJ cannot be scripted. The Food Revolution touches many lives but even as opponents become allies change remains elusive because they find themselves trapped in “the system.”
French fries are considered a vegetable. Government incentive programs make processed food cheaper than the raw food stuffs they come from. They cannot keep flavoured/sugary milk out of the cafeteria, even when everyone wants this, because of “the rules.” Rules created with the intent of ensuring that quality food reaches children. Even the rules aren’t the villains. Although I still don’t quite understand why teaching children to use forks and knives was so scandalous and possibly not allowable.
That’s right, I said teaching children to use forks and knives. Six years old and older. You don’t need utensils if all the school serves is fries and pizza and at home you eat chicken nuggets for supper. Marvel in amazement as children fail to properly identify basic vegetables. Most of these children are three or four generations removed from anyone who’s cooked from scratch and the results are terrifying and deadly. That’s not hyperbole, they are literally dying because of what and how they eat.
I don’t live in Huntington and my mother cooked from scratch. But would my children? I saw a vision of that future and it scared the shit out of me. I know I shouldn’t eat so many potato chips but willpower is an exhaustible resource so I often do. Huntington and the potential future it represents is what keeps the emotional and logical parts of me pointed in the same direction.
I’ve almost certainly built this simple television show up too much. Can it really be good as I’ve depicted it? Likely not. For one thing, the reality tv format leads to too many “previouslys” and “next times” but I just fast-forwarded through those. I’m not claiming to be objective and consider the words I’ve written more diary entry than review. Many things led to where I am today; this adventure with food upon which I’ve embarked. But I give a lot of credit to this show, especially seeing as I had no loftier aims than being entertainingly diverted. Now I’m part of the Food Revolution.
Want to join my cult? You can torrent episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. That’s right, there’s only six. Would you rather watch on YouTube, because you can! Seems like the sort of thing that’ll get yanked, but all the episodes are currently there. I’ve embedded episode one below, someone else made a playlist of all the episodes, and failing that you can always search