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by intern Julia Landau

Jamie Oliver, the famed Naked Chef, launches his new reality TV program Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution this Friday, March 26 at 8pm EST on ABC. For folks like me who can’t wait until Friday (who said patience was a virtue?), a sneak peak of the first episode is available.

The show accompanies Oliver through his quest to change the way America eats. He’s chosen Huntington, WV, the statistically “unhealthiest” city in the U.S., as his jumping-off point.

Jamie’s efforts are two-pronged, focusing both on school food and on family cooking in the home. On both fronts he’s up against resistance and skepticism. In the first moments of the show, we watch Oliver meet Central City Elementary’s crew of chefs, who have to operate within a broken system and aren’t necessarily happy with ambitious outsiders telling them what to do. Following his tense introduction to the cafeteria, Oliver brings the revolution home to a local family, where his challenge is to transform the diet of a family living off of fried food and frozen pizzas. He’s up against fifty years of ingrained values and misinformation.

TV hoopla aside, I believe this show is actually a big deal. It has the potential to speak to a mostly mainstream audience, and to help Americans take a hard look at school food and what we’re eating. To be sure, he may piss off more than a few people, but I’m glad to see he isn’t shying away from hitting the ground and talking to people face-to-face. Let’s also consider the network on which the show is airing – ABC. This isn’t the Food Network. He’s outside the bubble.

What’s more, Jamie’s show comes at exactly the right time, as Congress is just beginning to discuss its bill to update school meal programs. The timeliest way to join the food revolution is to ask your legislators to support a strong Child Nutrition Act that helps schools serve healthier food. Check out Slow Food USA’s Time for Lunch Campaign to get involved – and check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution for some laughs, some tears, and hopefully a happy ending.


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