While I am personally aware of the limitations of the show as it is a television show, I feel that there is still merit in supporting Jamie's efforts if you are looking for supporters in the food movement. Here are my reasons:
- Let's consider it a "gateway" revolutionizer. Let's be honest, while you may be aware of numerous programs working towards improving school food and you may recognize that Jamie is barely scratching the surface of what you do every day in your activist role, there are plenty of people in this country that have not even begun to think about their food. Jamie's nice-guy-next-door attitude and goofy techniques are inviting enough for people to come along for a laugh before they even realize they are listening to a foodie sermon.
- Ratings roar in this culture. As I often write about our spending power in this blog, in this instance we also have our watching power. Winning an Emmy for Season 1 was very nice, but can also seen as a little patronizing pat on the head, "Nice job Jamie. Aren't you happy now? Now go away!" Ratings are everything in television (just look at how many weight loss programs have sprung up since the airing of NBCs big hit The Biggest Loser) imagine, for a moment, what kind of new TV can be created if Food Revolution continues to garner that kind of success.
- TV still drives a lot of day to day discussion. As sad as this is, with all we have going on in the world and our lives, television still seems to be a hot topic in most groups. Well, let's give our food fight a chance to make it into day-to-day discussions.
- Jamie is doing the right thing. Perhaps he is limited by the production, or the scope of each season, but, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Jamie Oliver's message! He's doing what he can and I think it is pretty awesome. He's a television personality. He's a chef. He's a dad. He took these three parts of himself and said I have to do something about this! And he's doing it!
- Seeing the learning curve is part of the issue. I think it has been obvious since day one of season one that Jamie was learning on the job here in the US. Some may say, "Why doesn't he just consult with some experts to get through all that before he goes to air?" I think showing all of these obstacles has two overall benefits: (1) It gives those of us who have not battled for school food an idea of what a monster the undertaking is, and (2) It gives a huge amount of credit to the organizations that have been in place in our country for decades!
I heard a anecdote today in a webcast about global crises that actually had me thinking about our fight for good food in schools, in society and in our homes, it went something like this:
Whenever there is a time of change we have three groups of people. We have the few amazing change-makers that have figured out what we need to solve our problems, how to move forward and how to succeed. However, on the other end of the spectrum we have the nay-sayers, those who are very vocal about why all of those solutions will not and can not work. Unfortunately, we make the same mistake all of the time: we run to the nay-sayers and expend all of our energies convincing them while ignoring the largest group of all, those in the middle, on the bench waiting to see what the group, as a whole should do. We should stop working on the nay-sayers and get those people off the bench.I think Food Revolution, as a television show, speaks to the bench in a huge way. While you may think there are more effective change-makers in the game than Jamie Oliver, I believe we have to respect that he is building our team! So let's support this cheerleader for our cause, as we guide each new teammate to the local or national organization that can best move our cause forward!
Groups That Are Working On School Food:
- Farm to Schools
- Slow Foods USA (Slow Food in Schools Project)
- Cook for America
- One Tray
- Better School Food
- The Center for Ecoliteracy (the same folks that helped bring us that AWESOME Food, Inc. Discussion Guide!)
- Marion Nestle says she is gathering up resources for school food advocacy, so keep your eyes on FoodPolitics.com
If you know of more groups, or involved in one that I missed, please let me know! (One of the great joys of blogs: they can ALWAYS be added to!!)