Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution will be back on the air this Friday. The first episode of the series brought us pink slime and a busload of sugar. We thought we would check out what's been happening with Oliver since -- both on his show and in the news.
A number of school districts around the country are taking a look at flavored milk, an issue Oliver raised on the first episode of this season's show. According to this Associated Press story, eight ounces of fat-free strawberry milk has the same amount of sugar as eight ounces of Coca-Cola, and a major concern in the school milk debate is whether kids would still drink milk if it weren't flavored.
In Florida last year, a statewide ban on chocolate milk was being considered but has since been dropped. Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified John Deasy recently stated that he would push for
an end to strawberry and chocolate milk from school menus. Oliver and Deasy appeared together on Jimmy Kimmel's show to talk about the changes.
In the most recent TV episode, things aren't nearly as chummy. Oliver is still banned from entering L.A.
public schools. He tries to start a
parent movement by getting together volunteers to give out healthy lunches and
pass out flyers that urge parents to contact school board members to let Oliver
into the schools. He even gives out shirts to kids that say, "Feed Me Better."
Oh, and he does all this dressed as a tomato. The other parents include a strawberry, a banana, a peapod, and a carrot. What a team.
The episode continues with Oliver gaining access to one school that is run in partnership with the school district but not entirely by them. Although he is not allowed to look at the cafeteria or the main kitchen, he is able to teach a culinary arts class. He turns his students not only into cooks but into activists. One student talks about his grandfather with diabetes (who may have his foot amputated), and another mentions that her 13-year-old sister has already been diagnosed with diabetes. The 17-year-old says, "It's just hard having your mom, your dad, your sister, always getting sick all the time."
Oliver and the kids eat their homemade lunches and launch their next plan -- to make their own version of the school's cafeteria lunch.
The other story line on the show has Oliver trying to persuade a fast-food restaurant owner to change his menu. Dealing with Deno of Patra's fast food is not an easy task. As Oliver says, "Sometimes in life, you meet people who inspire you; other times, you meet people who you want to inspire; and sometimes, you just want to stab yourself."
Deno is concerned with the bottom line. He says he knows his customers, adding: "They're looking for a good price, quantity. They're not concerned with quality." He won't make changes to his existing menu, so Oliver resorts to selling his own menu alongside the existing one. He trains the staff on how to make his low-calorie burgers, which include a Revolution burger made with a house sauce instead of mayonnaise, a layer of smashed pinto beans, a beef patty, and a layer of smashed sweet potatoes. Oliver knows Deno just doesn't quite get what the big picture is. Nowhere is this more clear than when Oliver goes through the drive-through to order burgers and a strawberry milk shake. While in a past episode he showed Deno a fresh strawberry alternative to his strawberry syrup, Deno still can't resist a few squirts into Jamie's drink. When the chef tastes the milk shake, he is not amused.
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Maybe that's because Jamie Oliver is trying to reach kids before they are "spoiled by miserable adults to think they can't change the world" -- and Deno is clinging to conventional ideas about fast food, strawberry syrup and all.