Friday, April 2, 2010

"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and tag, you're it!

There is this new T.V. show called "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and it is about a guy named Jamie Oliver who is on a mission to change the unhealthy eating habits of the people who live in America's unhealthiest town: Huntington, West Virginia. He's not just some random idealist who has good intentions and doesn't know what he's doing. Instead he's a successful food health reformer in Britain; he ran a campaign that successfully secured about $380 million for school food programs.

Despite his successes in Britain, I believe there are a few more problems that Jamie has or will face in America. First and foremost is the high cost of making healthy meals. According to the person in charge of the school's food "the invoices are double what we normally spent here." In America, leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits are indeed more expensive than fried potatoes and processed meats. A possible reason is that it's still too hard to process leafy green vegetables and fruits. For example, orange plantations still need people to do the strenuous and tedious task of handpicking oranges from the trees. Another possible reason is that leafy green vegetables are not subsidized by the government. Corn and soybeans that are used to feed cows, pigs and chickens are heavily subsidized by the government. In 2005, the government allocated about $9 billion to corn and soybeans. The other $8 billion were allocated to cotton, wheat, tobacco, diary, rice and peanuts.

Second is the current recession. Almost every firm is suffering from this recession except for two big companies: Walmart and McDonald. Through decades of aggressive advertising, these two companies are one of the most famous companies in America and have made their products synonymous with cheap, affordable goods. So naturally more people would turn to these two companies to save money.

Third is the economic and political power of these fast food companies. Let's say Jamie's idea of cooking a nutritious, affordable and tasty home-cooked meal takes hold in America. That means less people will eat at fast food restaurants or visit less frequently, which translates to lower revenues. Since their future livelihood is at stake, the fast food industry would find ways to stop Jamie's food revolution from taking root: they can buy out politicians, lobby against any unfavorable legislations etc.

The power of information/education has enabled us to take down the powerful tobacco industry by revealing the ugly truth to people about the health dangers of tobacco, which led to a push in legislation to ban smoking in public places. So no matter how big the obstacles are we must educate people that the short term savings made by buying fast food will cost people even more in the future because of all the exorbitantly expensive medical bills people need to pay for medication and surgeries.

Please watch the first episode and second episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Share this with your friends and family. Do your part by signing this petition to help improve the food in America's school cafeteria.

Personal thoughts

I was deeply moved by Jamie's talks and actions to help people become healthy. I started to tear up on the part where he got frustrated and emotional about the insurmountable obstacles he has faced. Jamie is truly a selfless guy; he left his family and mother country to help a foreign country where he is treated like an alien.

I remember the very same types of junk food that were served at my elementary: oblong shaped pizzas, french fries, nuggets etc. Luckily I come from a family that prefers to cook food from scratch. Also my parents didn't mind bagging a bit of what they cooked that day and walking a few blocks to my school. So I rarely consumed school food. I remember I had a Russian friend named Eugene. He would frequently ask me for some of my homemade food and I'd share it with him. I can tell he preferred my homemade food over school food because he always had that gleam in his eyes when I opened my lunch box. But I didn't have enough for both of us so he still had to eat school lunch just like most school kids. At least after lunch we were able to go out for recess where we would play ball, freeze tag and other kid games. Now schools have cut back on recess so that kids can have more class time. I understand that it may seem intuitive to increase class time so that teachers can cover more material and supposedly increase test scores but how can kids study more when they are physically unfit to do so? Most schools get approximately 45 minutes of physical education and that is not enough exercise for kids. (FDA recommends at least an hour of moderate exercise everyday) Also an added benefit of recess is that it gives kids an environment where they can practice social/communication skills. Yes there is some bullying during recess but recess isn't the reason why people get bullied. Kids get picked on by bullies in the hallways and stairways in schools where there is no recess. In other words, bullies will always find other places to pick on kids with or without recess.

Conclusion: Reinstitute recess in all schools and support Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.