“You say you want a revolution…well, you know, we all want to see the plan”
Some of the best song lyrics ever written, and they ring true for any parent concerned about the state of foods served in their child’s school. This month (I am so excited) king of the (healthy) Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver, is back with season two of his Emmy award winning show, Food Revolution.
Most people who are fairly obsessed (like me) with the Food Network or celebrity chef craze know him as “the Naked Chef”-Jamie Oliver. Next Tuesday, April 12th, Jamie takes on Los Angeles in an attempt to prove that they can “revolutionize” their health starting in their homes and their schools. Last season took place in Huntington, West Virginia, a town with the highest mortality rate, mostly due to obesity and obesity related illnesses (heart disease, diabetes).
The message of the show is one of hope, and a call to action for all of us. You may be able to revolutionize your cabinets and refrigerator, but we can also take it a step further and really look at what we and our children are eating outside our home. Many school districts have done this already, with amazing results. Whether you have school age children or not, check your local school districts’ menu offerings. Some school districts have removed “high” sugar beverages, but replaced them with sugar-free sodas with artificial sweeteners and milks that have 10 ingredients besides milk, including high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.
Last seasons show was equally inspiring and frustrating. Some of the meals he made looked incredible, but unappealing to the average school aged child. It took some creative marketing on his part, but eventually he was able to win over many of the children with good tasting, healthy versions of foods they enjoy such as sloppy joes. The hardest part seemed to be the opposition from the school boards and their budget. He would return weeks later and find the processed foods back, because while it many be cheaper (and not by much) it is ultimately mostly just ease of food ordering and distribution that make school districts order mass quantities of processed chicken patties, nuggets, and other mystery parts. Equally encouraging are schools that are revolutionizing their own school food programs by planting, cultivating and using fresh vegetables and herbs-many of them urban schools, with a dual benefit of providing education and health.
So what can you do as a parent? Take a look at the schools meal offerings. If you aren’t satisfied, take action. Check out jamieoliver.com for a school lunch charter, recipes, and further information on the quest for better health prospects for our children by replacing processed, nutrient poor, chemically laden food with honest, fresh, prepared meals. Sign the petition, and become part of the revolution!
Laura Zurita is a registered dietitian and Montgomery County mom to a 6 year old and wife of a picky eater. The are avid hikers and readers, and are very happy the Phillies baseball season has returned in full swing!