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Entries in Food (2)

Monday
Mar292010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

ABC

Friday 9/8c

While many are praising the tumultuous passing of the health care bill, the cauterized media coverage and public opinion polls show all too clearly that America does not know how to have a civil debate about the most important social issues.

ABC / Holly FarrellPerhaps they need to be driven to dialogue and change through a more familiar avenue, like reality television.  Let’s hope that medium is more palatable to Americans as they watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a six-part series on ABC that documents the British chef’s attempts to change the life-shortening eating habits of America’s least healthy town, Huntington, West Virginia. 

Having watched the first two episodes (available on Hulu), I can say that Food Revolution falls into the same trappings as many reality shows – painting people as caricatures of themselves, pitting heroes against villains, and squeezing raw emotion out of its stars.  After all, the series is produced by Ryan Seacrest. 

The message behind the series, though, is anything but trite.  Obesity is one of America’s leading health problems, and there is no reason that an overhaul of the health-care system should not also include food industry regulation and nutritional education.  Jamie Oliver has experience with enacting real political and social change through his whole foods educational approach. 

Oliver achieved success with program like Jamie’s School Dinners and Ministry of Food in his native England, which highlighted the dangers of processed foods in the school system and encouraged a community effort to rediscover the joys of home cooking.  His efforts raised public awareness and secured funds for an overhaul of the school lunch system, even earning praise from Prime Minister Tony Blair.  Just this year, Oliver earned a TED prize for his programs, an award shared previously by people like Bono and former President Bill Clinton. 

I feel strongly that regulation of the food industry and nutritional education need to be addressed hand-in-hand with the future of health care in this country.  Oliver gets it right by starting in the schools, with the children.  Food Revolution shows him battling a population entrenched in their habits, a school board system concerned with budgetary constraints, and a student body incapable of recognizing a fresh tomato.  By engaging real families simultaneously with government officials, Oliver’s efforts have a chance at making a real difference. 

Parents should absolutely watch this show with their children.  It will serve as a wakeup call to the type of food we put in our bodies every day.  It’s also great motivation for young, single people or couples to get into the kitchen and learn a few new recipes, so that we don’t pass on the same bad habits to future generations.  All of us can take more notice of the food we eat, and Jamie Oliver gives us an example we can proudly follow. 

Links

Sign Jamie’s petition for an American Food Revolution

Top Chef’s Toby Young on Jamie Oliver

Saturday
Feb202010

Chicago Restaurant Week

Foodies, start your...forks?  Chicago Restaurant Week is here!  This is the perfect time to try a new restaurant with your sweetie or meet a friend for lunch without breaking the bank. A three course dinner is $32, while lunch is $22.

I was ecstatic when Restaurant Week came to Chicago in 2008, as I had experienced its magic in Philadelphia and New York in years prior.  Chicago has world-class chefs creating amazing dishes throughout the city, and there's always an up-and-coming star around the corner. 

This year's event runs February 18 - 28, so you actually get two full weekends to please your palate.  The big names - Naha, Lockwood - will be booked at this point, but with more than 160 participating restaurants, it's safe to say that a tasty new experience is just a click away. 

As with many things in life, I've procrastinated with my reservations, but I'm still hoping for a wine and cheese happy hour at Bin 36 or a mid-week steak at Morton's

Where are you going this week?  And do you need a dining partner?

Update: Check out this great Restaurant Week Calculator from A.V. Club Chicago to get the best value this year.  Thanks to Emily Withrow for the tip!