The ABC preview of "Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” Sunday night has me modestly hopeful that ordinary Americans — those largely untouched by the movement to improve diet and agriculture — might watch and learn.
“Revolution” puts reality TV’s conflict-based formula to work by sending celebrity chef Oliver to Huntingon, West Virginia, to revolutionize the local diet. Residents in the city, which the Centers for Disease Control identified as the nation’s unhealthiest (AP via MSNBC), aren’t impressed by the smarty-pants Brit, and the story’s questions fall into place:
The odds seem stacked against him, no surprise to any SOLE food proponent: The processed food devolution has been easy and cheap, and Americans love easy and cheap; Americans don’t like outsiders telling them what to do; and change is hard for most people.
Oliver, though, has experience in changing school menus. His School Dinners campaign in England, in fact, got validation last year when researchers found that students eating his healthier menus performed better on standard tests (see, for example, The Daily Telegraph). Also, he's found an ally in a local preacher distressed at the untimely deaths of congregation members due to diet-related health problems.
I’m eager to find out what happens, and I hope you will encourage your friends, relatives and acquaintances with awful diets to give the show a try. They might accidentally learn something useful while enjoying the show.
The preview will be repeated at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 26, with the second episode following at 9 p.m. on your local ABC station. Full episodes will be available for on-line viewing on ABC's website.