Why is it that Americans need an English chef to come into our towns and cities to teach us how to not kill ourselves with food? Do we need that much guidance in order to keep our children from becoming obese diabetics by the age of 13? Based on the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution… yes we do. It was truly appalling to see the way the public schools in West Virginia carelessly gorged their young students with fried, processed foods and disgustingly sweet “milk”. Not to mention how their parents were doing the exact same thing at home. These children are being systematically fattened up for the slaughter while at the same time being severely malnourished. We’re mistreating our children the same way that we do the livestock in our American meat factories. As Kofi and I watched Food Revolution on hulu today, I found myself tearing up more than once and feeling enraged the rest of the time. This evening as we were still discussing the program over dinner, I started to realize that he’s not so much starting a revolution as trying to push this country into a new stage of evolution. He is encouraging us to become a more thoughtful, informed country that takes responsibility for our own health and for the health of our families. A new breed of American that doesn’t settle for what is the easiest or cheapest, but the most intelligent and healthful choice. We need to become a group of humans that can understand that the food we eat makes us the people that we are. Fat, greasy food makes us fat, greasy people. Our brains need the right vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids to function on a basic level. Without these things we are doomed to become a country of slow moving, slow thinking, obese people who’s life expectancy can only be lengthened by millions of dollars of pharmaceuticals.
It’s saddening and incredibly frustrating to know that the government is setting such dangerously low standards for the meals that our children receive in school. I remember the few times that I bought my lunch from the school cafeteria 25 years ago, that it was mainly tasteless, colorless junk that I would never consider feeding to my son. I’m so glad that I brown bagged it nearly everyday of my grade school years. At least I knew what I was putting into my body for the most part.
The question that keeps eating at me is, what are the parents doing (or not doing) that is keeping this cycle of horrible eating habits spinning out of control? How can a group of first graders not know what a tomato is? A tomato! An eggplant I can almost understand, but a tomato? Do they never even pass through a produce isle? How is it possible that a responsible loving adult would not take the time to teach their child what the most basic fruits and vegetables look and taste like.
(At this point in the post I went into a hysterical rant about the absurdity of anyone not knowing how to successfully and intelligently feed themselves and their children. I quickly erased it all in fear of stirring up too much animosity and a possible commitment to a mental facility.)
Of course I know that it’s not just West Virginia and it’s not all of West Virginia either. It is however, not going to improve unless someone does something to change the system. I commend Mr. Oliver for his bravery and tenacity in undertaking such a huge task. He will no doubt meet much negativity and resistance while trying to make our lives better. He is coming to us with knowledge, kindness and unending patience in hopes of helping us to live longer, healthier lives. I know that it takes more than one man to start a revolution, but perhaps only one to be a catalyst to our evolution.