Compared to chicken nuggets, anything the produce industry puts out is as real as any food gets.

'Food Revolution' puts value on produce

Chuck Robinson
Media Watch

Produce and real food have quite a cheerleader in Jamie Oliver, TV chef turned dietary evangelist/entertainer. Oh, he hates chicken nuggets.

“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” began airing Friday nights on ABC in mid-March. 

This new TV series is similar to one broadcast in 2008 in Britain, “Jamie’s Ministry of Food.” 

The American version is set in Huntington, W.Va., which was chosen because of an Associated Press story citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that dubbed the five-county Huntington metropolitan area as the county’s unhealthiest.

Much of what Oliver portrayed in the first two episodes was sobering, like when he went into a first-grade classroom and kids couldn’t identify a potato, though they knew very well what french fries were. Tomatoes were another stumper.

Watching the kids’ food dumped into the cafeteria trash also was disheartening. Oliver’s chicken, rice and salad lose out big when kids can have pizza instead.

However, before the end of the second episode Oliver has run around dressed in a peapod costume with dangly peas sewn to his belly to energize the kids.

Also by the end of that episode he has enlisted the school principal and teachers to help encourage the students to try fresh-made food, and lots of the kids earned their “I tried something different” stickers.

A couple of U.S. comparisons come to mind. For my money, Oliver’s “Revolution” isn’t as gimmicky as Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary movie “Supersize Me” and has more substance than the TV series “Biggest Loser.” Oliver’s program gets at a root of our country’s obesity problem, the way children eat.

“Food Revolution” lays out related issues, such as ease of food preparation and federal dietary rules that favor packaged and processed food as the safer, cover-your-behind choice for lunch room ladies.

In Oliver’s series I also hear echoes of Michael Pollan’s preaching about industrialized agriculture, but Oliver seems to wish kids and their parents would eat more produce no matter where it was grown. Eat better, eat more produce and ease up on corn dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. 

Under one of the tabs at the ABC Web page for the show, Del Monte advertised its Fruit Naturals fresh-cut fruit. I think they are on to something.

Of course the next day I went to the site and there was an advertisement for Oreo Cakesters snack cakes. Now there’s some irony — or something.

E-mail crobinson@thepacker.com

How do you think "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" can help fresh produce? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.