Los Angeles is the next stop on chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, the campaign aimed at weaning Americans off processed and junk food. He moved his whole family from London to the City of Angels after the Holidays with a view of replicating there the Emmy-Award performance he gave in Huntington, West Virginia, last year. The “unhealthiest city in America” had given him access to a couple of schools to demonstrate the feasibility of feeding children healthy meals. His tribulations as he was painstakingly implementing necessary changes made for a most gripping and inspiring Reality TV show. More importantly, drastic transformation occurred and is taking hold months after he and his crew left town.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), however, was clearly not inspired by Jamie’s Food Revolution Season 1. So far, they have adamantly refused him access to all schools. “Reality TV has a formula. You either have to have drama or create conflict to be successful. We’re not interested in either,” LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz told the Los Angeles Times.
LAUSD is responsible for 680,000 students, 80% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Unlike Huntington’s schools, which were equipped with state-of-the-art, albeit typically unused, kitchens, most Los Angeles schools do not have proper cooking facilities and are provided meals by central kitchens. One can understand why LAUSD is concerned about its “nutritional” program being exposed for all Americans to see. No doubt Jamie Oliver would have his work cut out for him, were he given access to their food system.
Although Jamie Oliver has reportedly talked about being “deflated”, Los Angeles is not rid of him. He recently opened a public kitchen to offer free cooking classes. He’s also searching for families who are willing to welcome him and his TV crew in their homes as they embark on a journey to transform their unhealthy eating habits.
Meanwhile, he’s also kicking the Food Revolution grassroot campaign into higher gear, in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The ranks of his supporters have already swollen to more than 4,000 people in L.A. while Change.org is helping him circulate a petition requesting that LAUSD “let Jamie Oliver help”.
In fact, there’s hope that the Perfect Storm of Healthy Eating is near.