Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

If you haven't already tuned in to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I'd encourage you to give it a view. As the series starts off, Jamie Oliver (a celebrity chef out of England, dedicated to getting fresh, healthy food to everyone) heads to the location named America's Unhealthiest City. His goal? To change the way they eat. And he is starting in the schools - specifically, the elementary schools.

Here we find kids from families regularly dining on pizza, chicken nuggets, frozen dinners, french fries, donuts, deep fried, and heavily processed foods. Daily. In fact, many, for every meal.

The 1st graders are unable to recognize a tomato. They don't know what a head of cauliflower is. They've never seen an eggplant. Broccoli is a foreign substance. And none remember eating salad.

Most of the students do not know how to use a knife, and none of them are allowed forks or knives while eating at school. This limits their options to primarily finger foods (highly processed). Jamie takes a poll to see what they eat at home... most do not use utensils at home either. Jamie is floored. "You don't teach your children how to eat real food?" He thinks the other adults are joking... Who needs forks for pizza, hamburgers, fries and nuggets? In England, Jamie tells us, all kids are eating with forks and knives by kindergarten. "I'd like to see documentation of that!" says one cook to Jamie.

Side note:

Maybe this is why strangers look at our family oddly when we go out for dinner and let our 1-year-old son use his own fork to 'stab' and eat his vegetables (which, I must say, he does quite nicely).

Maybe Jamie would be happy to know that our son's first (non-Mom) word was in fact, "Stab!" as he forked his green beans and tomato slices to eat.

Maybe that was my fault too. I didn't realize that we weren't supposed to be teaching our children the options they have to cut and eat their vegetables at this early age...

Here, instead, Jamie finds kids are well versed in all things processed and all things McDonald's. They know how to heat up chicken nuggets in the microwave, but have no clue about what those little clumps are made up of. French fries are related to a potato? Seems strange... Where does dinner come from? A box. The freezer. The grease joint down the street. Jamie reads the label from the mashed 'potatoes' the children eat and finds the mixture is made up of mostly chemically-altered non-potato ingredients -- processed powder, mix with water.

These kids have never seen a garden. Never held raw produce in their hands. Rarely (if ever?) taken a bite out of a fresh apple, or felt the juice of watermelon run down their little faces.

What Jamie does find are twelve year olds in pre-diabetic stages. The majority of the population over weight or obese. Heart problems that are rampant. And lifestyles - specifically how the people are eating, and what they are eating - is to blame.

The people of this town don't like being singled out as the Unhealthiest City in America. But as Jamie points out, it is not just happening in this town, in this school. No, the problem extends across our nation. And it is epidemic in proportion. School lunches are horrifically processed - void of nutrition and regulated to meet outdated guidelines that do not have children's health as the #1 concern. And if we are honest, the way most Americans feed their kids (and themselves) at home is no better. The S.A.D. diet as some call it -- 'Standard American Diet' -- truly is sad.

What really resonates with me about Jamie's mission is the way that people respond to him. Not with welcoming open arms - "Please, come teach us what you know - help us change for the better! Equip us with knowledge and skills to live healthier and raise our children more optimally - so they aren't dying from heart disease, diabetes, and organ failure."

Just the opposite occurs. Jamie is met with resistance at every turn. No one wants to hear that what they are doing is hurting their children. No one wishes to take responsibility for poor parenting choices, or even consider for a second that what they do, how they do it, directly impacts their little ones - the next generation - the ones they love so dearly. Instead, the "DON'T JUDGE ME!" defensive response is clear and powerful. "You're offending me," is a common response that Jamie gets.

The town is on the verge of kicking Jamie out. And he is heartbroken. He only wants to help. He loves kids. He truly cares and genuinely wants to make a difference. He doesn't want to see a nation destroy their children (either the UK or the US) because of mis-information and no one willing to put forth the truth on the subject. Because parenting matters! And in this case - what we feed our children matters too.

There are a few times that Jamie - this fun, truth-speaking, energetic, lively chef of a man - gets teary eyed because he cannot believe what he is seeing and hearing. That these people just don't want to be helped. They refuse to consider change may be good for them. And they see Jamie as the enemy out to make them all look like 'bad parents'. Oh, Jamie... I feel ya! It is tough when our passions, our empathy, our area of expertise, and our drive to make little differences in the world around us take us head-to-head with the stubbornly naive (and often willfully ignorant) 'don't judge me!' attitude.

I commend Jamie for sticking to the plan and moving forward. For flexibly coming up with new strategies, new methods, to try and get through to the people. To attempt to help the kids. To strive to save them, literally.

Jamie's story is one worth watching - worth fighting for in your schools, and at your dinner table, as well.


You can watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC Friday nights 9/8c, on Hulu.com, or check back here for more as we update episodes. (Video streaming rights will expire June 5, 2010)

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

The following resources are excellent places to start for further investigation into this vital subject.


1) Fast Food Nation

2) The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids

3) In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

4) Food Inc.: A Participant Guide

5) Diet for a Dead Planet


1) Food Inc. ~ Movie Website

2) Fast Food Nation

3) Corn Kings ~ Movie Website

4) The Cove ~ Movie Website

5) Super Size Me



  1. Wow this is really horrible. I cried. I know he did a similar series in the UK... but to this extent? No forks or knives? My 21 month old eats with knife and fork!!!
    I really feel sick to my stomach. (And not because I was eating processed food).

  2. Loved the show finally someone says it and shows how disgusting it has gotten!

  3. I felt for Jamie when he'd been disparaged and was defending his reasons for doing the show - so sad when the kids would eat the nugget because as the little girl said "we're hungry!"

  4. This was great!

  5. Used this to show my 5 year old how chicken nuggets are made. Now he understands why McDonald's isn't a "sometimes" food like he wanted it to be. (sometimes foods are foods we can't eat everyday but only for special times...like cake). He understands how nuggets are truly garbage! I love Jamie Oliver!

  6. What is the big deal about not using forks and knives? We eat tons of fruits and veggies, RAW, wtihout using utensils.

    I don't really see what that has to do with anything.

  7. Carol - forks and knives certainly aren't needed (to eat healthy, whole foods).

    But in watching the episodes I think you'll find that the general "kids can't do it" attitude extends beyond the silverware issue. It is representative (in this case) of not being able to make food choices in the school lunch program. Since the kids "can't" use forks and knives, they MUST have finger foods and these MUST have some type of meat (dietary guidelines)... so it has to be heavily processed to eat.

  8. I had no idea. I grew up in a home where we grew our own veggies, ate salad and home cooked meals every single night of the week.

    I knew it was bad in american households, but I had no idea it was this bad. Do people really use a deep-fryer as a normal cooking tool? Holy cow!

    I agree with Danelle about the kids cant do it. Most parents are so overly cautious of their kids that they're turning out adults who are so babied, that they're hardly functioning. Using tools that makes one independent is important, and thats including forks and knives.

  9. Carol, it makes more sense when you see him talking about it in the context of his TED talk (which, if you haven't seen, is brilliant). The point is that we're conditioning children to eat fast food every meal of the day. Fast food that is hand-held and to be gobbled down in minutes.

    Pizza, burgers, tacos, hot dogs, chicken nuggets - I'm trying to think of a single classic fast food item that requires cutlery. It's part of the overall culture of food that needs to change, not that eating certain items with your hands is bad.

  10. Please encourage toddlers to drink water. The Phila Children's Hospital has had to open a wing just for Pediatric Urology. This is due to the fact of all the processed foods our littel children eat. I am sure they do not get water to drink in pre school!!

  11. I only watched a bit of his show because I had a date that night but what I saw disgusted me. Eating processed food is going to kill us. We need to treat our bodies with the same diligence we treat our jobs. Our food is our fuel, our life. Life expectancies might be rising in general with increases in technology and in the medical field but I heard recently that this generation of children is the first one that is expected to die sooner. Why? Because this is the first time in history so much processed food is availbale and being eaten in large quantities and DEPENDED upon for nutrition.

  12. one has to wonder if there is any good reason to send one's child to school these days. i can't think of one.

    Just one thing...i get that the kids are being served junk, but this is the parents fault, squarely. you can make your kids a lunch you know, and you can teach them to make their own lunches and what is healthy and what isn't. it would be a cold day in hell before my kids would eat the school lunches! i think this is part of a bigger societal problem....children are not a blessing anymore, they are merely one more thing to check off of your life's to do list. raise em up with school and plenty of lessons and activities and send them on their merry way. why take the time to make a lunch?

  13. I was just dying when those 1st graders couldn't identify basic fruits and veggies and the ground up chicken guts - DISGUSTING. A chicken patty will never be coming in this house again!

  14. I wouldn't have really thought anyone could have an objection to this show, but then I was referred to this post, which sees it not as a long overdue lifesaving effort, but as fat-shaming and classist. I'm curious as to what you and other commenters think about this.

  15. I am loving this show and truly feel for Jamie; how frustrating. As for the forks and knives, people think we're odd too, that our children not only use forks and knives, but they're also used to eating off of "real" plates and drink out of glass. The cloth napkins are a whole other story; my eldest HATES paper napkins and has a fit when there aren't cloth available :P

  16. Wow, makes me feel much better about what I serve my family (I strive for whole foods and veggies at every meal, but I'm not quite there yet). Today my 20 month old saw squash go from it's whole form, to peeled, cut, into the pot, pureed and then onto the dinner table as a soup. On the side we had a fresh salad, which he also saw being prepared. He knows where food comes from!

  17. Witkowski Family ~ your comment made me smile... we've never had plastic (dishes) of any kind in our house (I prefer to error on the side of caution when it comes to plastics). So our little one has eaten with 'real' silverware and off glass plates/bowls and glass glasses (even a glass Born Free sippy cup) since he started solids at 10 months. There has never been a break. I believe kids (even babies) can learn easily how to use typical glassware without much fuss - just by watching and learning. :)

  18. I feel so bad for how he's being treated when he's just trying to help. :(

  19. Finally! Someone who isn't afraid to stand up to the status quo! There is more info here...http://www.tedprize.org/

  20. He is beautiful, that's all I know.

  21. ^ What Catherine said!! The man is a legend!

  22. i actually love him

  23. i love him too! he rocks!

  24. This is definitely the help that our children's obesity issues need. The First Lady's focus on this is also a good model. Just because we have grown complacent about the bad food we feed our families, doesn't mean we are not capable of improvement.

  25. one of the best things that could have been put on primetime television!! Still trying to get over the fact that they didn't serve the kids any forks or knives??

  26. He has done amazing things for school dinners in the UK, I'm happy to see he's over here now to shake it up a bit !!!

  27. From the bottom of my heart, I hope many of us follow his lead and stand up for our kids health!!!! And I'm talking in plural, kids, because all of them should be our concern, they all are our future!!! Go Jamie!!!!

  28. I can't wait to watch this (as I've missed the first episodes).

    I'm very proud that my kids love healthy food. It truly saddens me to see parents just give out crappy 'food' to their kids and wonder why they have health issues that continue, or worsen, in adulthood.

    Granted, some people really do have health issues that make them larger- diabetes, thyroids... That, however is NOT normal nor should it be treated as such. People need to quit going through drive throughs or boxed foods, frozen meals...

  29. I'm not fat or thin. my children are all healthy sized.

    I eat well our family eats well.
    I struggle to explain to my older child why she cannot and will not be given the shite that lurks in lunchboxes of some of her peers

    I struggle if she goes to friends houses to find the happy medium - the box may well say 'healthy' the contents are, however, not.

    Mr Oliver has worked TIRELESSLY in our schools to get them to ditch the disgusting pig slop they try and pass off as food.

    I can't bear to watch because I get to angry watching as parents pass chips through the school gate and Mcds etc

    I could CRY to see a 7 year old not know what a POTATO is or to watch her school friends push lettuce around the plate when they come for tea or to ask what a tomato is to ask nervously can they try it? or to look on on horror because my two year old can sit at the table like a "grown up" and eat with utensils.

  30. Chicken nuggets anyone?

  31. On the show, and on others (CNN, Oprah) Jamie himself has asserted he is not pushing a diet plan nor is it a "get skinny" initiative. He is talking about HEALTH and eating nourishing food.

  32. Don't forget to check out the Take Action link!!!!!!
    Love you Jaime! Thanks for all the work you do!

  33. What I got from watching this show is not "We should all be skinny" what I got from this show is "We should all eat healthy" its appalling to see kindergarteners not know their veggies (hopefully that's not the majority in the US) and also disgusting to see children watch the nasty stuff in chicken nuggets but still want to eat them, I know I'll never eat them again!!

  34. I just wish there was more "naked" about this "naked chef". :P

  35. My three kids are all pretty thin and I don't know if they could EVER gain weight because they take after my husband (he is 6 foot 7 and STRUGGLES to weigh more than 170-- he has to work VERY hard to gain weight and harder to maintain it), but I still don't let them eat tons of unhealthy food. They do eat some unhealthy food. I think, most things are okay in moderation (not everything but most). My kids are so used to being served fruits and vegetables with each meal they have a preference for them. If you offered my kids a bowl of chips or a bowl of broccoli, they would go for the broccoli. That being said, my kids are taught that it makes no difference what someone looks like-- not even tolerance so much as indifference to how other people look. We just focus on trying to be healthy, and they're very active. I haven't seen the show yet, but I thought it sounded like a good idea and I've always loved Jamie Oliver.

  36. "Diets" would not be necessary for our children/ourselves if we just ate properly in the first place which is what Jamie Oliver is trying to get people to learn for themselves. It goes beyond shedding pounds, it's about enlightening our society as to where our food actually comes from which we are currently so disconnected with.

    What I found maddening about the show was the schools are being portrayed as the evil doers....I agree that they're not providing healthy food, but why are the schools providing food in the first place?? Where are the parents in all this? This type of education starts in the home and if parents took the time and effort to make sure their children were properly nourished they wouldn't have to depend upon the school system to fill that need. Then Jamie rallies all the parents and horrifies them with the visuals of what their children are actually eating....they all seemed so shocked and outraged and it was directed at the schools...step up parents and take responsibility for what happens to your children instead of just passing the buck along!

    Kudos to Jamie Oliver and his food revolution. I wish him much success in his endeavors. May we Americans stop and take notice and open ourselves up for a learning experience.

  37. LOVING this show. What a fantastic use for reality TV!

  38. I watched the show and I love JO. He's all about cooking with real food. I don't think anybody could be opposed to that?

  39. hope you are following the blog of the teacher who is eating school lunch every day of the year. it sheds a lot of light on what kids are really being served. disgusting!


  40. The reason that schools have to provide lunches is because many families are so poor that they simply cannot afford to feed their children lunch every day.
    I know that it's hard to believe, but it's true. A lot of folks are also too prideful to use food banks, so their families suffer even more.
    Unfortunately most people also have no clue how to shop for fresh vegetables, fruits and meats and not spend a fortune.
    It's easy to say that all the parents have to do is pack a healthy lunch. But if they can barely make ends meet, and can't afford enough food to survive, those children would be starving.
    The reason school lunches started is to help poor families out. But unfortunately it has been turned into a garbage filled wasteland of crap food that just fills people stomachs with "food".
    Schools absolutely need to start serving healthy food and stop pandering to corporate money just to get reduced prices on the processed "foods".

  41. What a great post~
    I don't watch much TV and missed him when he was on! :(
    Thanks for posting the episodes!:)
    I can't wait to watch them!
    I love cooking shows and remember when Jamie Oliver was on this show
    The Naked Chef! Its been about 8yrs ago~

    We grow a large garden and my kiddos eat daily from it ALL summer long~ sigh***

    My kiddos love to cook and watch cooking shows...I have 6 kiddos
    4 boys age 15,13,10,7 and 2 girls ages 4 and 2.

    We still do McDonald's but if I know we are going to be out for the day I plan ahead....
    I pack healthy sandwitches and fruit for the trip.
    We drink alot of water and milk.
    We limit juice unless its from the juicer. (beets,parsley,ginger,carrot,celery and a apple.) My kids love it~

    I love your blog....we have much in common!

    Warm Blessings,

  42. Last night Jamie O showed up in my dream ...


  43. when Jamie did this in the UK his findings and response was almost identical to what I read here in this article. For example: kids were eating take away meals with their fingers directly from the wrappers whilst sitting on the floor; 7 year olds (and some adults) not able to recognise common vegetables and fruits (but yes, most able to use cutlery....just about) and the townsfolk up in arms about his perceived patronising and snobby attitudes towards them.
    He turned it round somewhat, once he started his campaign to teach a few interested people how to cook healthy food, and then got them to teach classes to the people in their town.
    Prior to these shows he did another series about food in schools and in that one I would be surprised if anyone allows their kids to still eat school dinners.
    I am not sure how successful both initiatives have been in the follow up from those shows. Not very is my guess now the recession has bitten deep.

  44. oh I LOVED this show! Simply wonderful, I was so sad when it ended. I taped them all, so "old fashioned" of me. ha ha.

  45. This show reminded me when I met an American guy in London and we started talking about drinking coke. I told him that I do not drink soda very oftenand he answered me: - I don't drink much either, just a couple of cans a day. I know I physically opened my mouth in surprise. I had to tell him that in Sweden drinking soda more than once a week would be considered a lot and that I meant that I drink soda perhaps once every 2-3 months when I said that that I do not drink much soda. He claimed he had never met a person who drank less soda than me. I was very intrigued at this cultural difference and a bit scared too.

  46. I would add "Killer at Large" and "Forks over knives" to your list of films.



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