December 11th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Don’t ever say that clowns aren’t clever. After San Francisco passed a ban aimed to prevent McDonald’s and other fast-food chains from giving toys away with kids’ meals that do not meet the city’s nutritional standards, the chain has simply started charging a nominal fee for them instead.
Read More:McDonald’s Finds Loophole in SF’s Efforts to Reduce Childhood Obesity
December 1st, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
After the recent declaration by members of Congress that pizza served throughout the nation’s school lunch programs should be considered a vegetable (because of the negligible amount of tomato paste in pizza sauce) despite efforts of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act also passed by Congress last year requiring schools to provide more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, California schools continue to lead the nation in focusing on the health of children by providing exceptionally clean food for students and not including pizza on the list of vegetables.
Read More:California Leads the Charge in Creating Healthy School Lunches
June 30th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution marches on! Better School Food announced that Washington, DC public schools will stop serving flavored milks this fall. Here’s why: chocolate and strawberry milk, usually sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as regular Coke! In the fight against childhood obesity, it’s an obvious target. Jamie applauded the DC school system for making the right decision in a recent video.
The question is: will other states have the guts to follow suit? Florida is considering banning flavored milk as well, but the dairy industry is worried that the kids will turn to “non-milk beverages,” citing complaints from students that regular milk “has a weird flavor.”
When did what kids want become more important than what they need? Kids in Berkeley, California have a choice between water and milk. If we compromised our curriculums the way we’re compromising our menus, I’m sure kids would be playing video games all day long.
If you can’t wait for the school system to improve, here are some brain-boosting foods for your child’s health.
Read More:Jamie Oliver Salutes DC Schools for Banning Chocolate Milk
April 23rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Convincing an entire town to change its eating habits may be a herculean feat, but British chef Jamie Oliver never wanted to be perceived as a nutritional superhero.
“I’m not trying to pretend I’m bloody Superman or something like that because it’s just not the case,” says Oliver, whose Food Revolution finale airs tonight (9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC). “But I have a very strange job. I have this wonderful opportunity—a lifetime opportunity to help a country that I care about.”
As a father of three, Oliver has an emotional connection to the show.
“Kids are so open-minded, and they’re so up for the challenge of trying things,” he says. “Often, it’s the parents that ruin the kids’ opportunities. Everyone always blames the kids, but it’s really not the kids; it’s the adults.”
Food manufacturers, school districts and parents are in positions of power, Oliver says, and they’ve made “lots of bad decisions” over the last three generations. In both the United States and Britain, obesity rates have produced “the first generation of kids expected not to outlive their parents,” he notes.
“It’s that kind of stuff that gets me upset and always will,” he says.
The most important step in correcting poor dietary habits is learning how to cook, Oliver maintains.
“If you know how to cook four, five or 10 simple dishes that are affordable and nutritious, then you’ve got choices,” he says. “And if you can’t cook, you haven’t got choices.”
Tonight on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”
Oliver’s efforts have borne fruit, but now what?
In the final episode, everything he has accomplished unravels when he leaves Huntington, WV. School food personnel are planning to reintroduce processed food to use up the mountain of surplus foods previously ordered. Children’s parents are also pulling them out of Oliver’s lunch program, and most of the school cooks remain untrained and unwilling to learn.
With the media hounding him at every step and a city that’s revolting against his message, Oliver returns to pull off his most powerful demonstration yet. Is he too late?
Photo: Holly Farrell/ABC
Read More:Jamie Oliver’s Season Finale: The “Revolution” Verdict
April 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
When the community of Huntington, WV, watched the season premiere of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, they had mixed feelings about how the British chef would interact with their friends and neighbors.
As resident Amy Gannon, a registered dietitian, told the town’s Herald-Dispatch newspaper: “Basically, Jamie Oliver has picked up on the obesity epidemic. I’m sure that he has good intentions for Huntington, but I know this is a reality show. He will show people that are resistant to change. I believe the idea is for Jamie to ride in on his white horse and save us all from ourselves.”
For Oliver, Huntington is representative of many U.S. and British towns, where radical shifts have occurred in the food industry.
“[We’ve] gone from an army of mom-and-pop restaurants and real signature dishes of [these areas] to largely only fast-food chains,” he says. And West Virginia, he notes, “has more small farms than any other state in America,” yet produce seems limited.
Oliver, who has focused primarily on school nutrition, remains passionate about revamping cafeteria menus.
“You put those beautiful little kids in school 180 days of the year, from [ages] 4 to 18, and nearly every choice is still a version of junk food,” he says.
Ultimately, it will be up to Huntington’s leaders to decide whether they want to implement Oliver’s changes.
“You’ll see, as the show unravels, it’s not a show that ends with a happy ending, but more of a passing over of the baton,” he says.
“It’s for them to make it,” he adds. “It was always about finding local ambassadors of change and really embedding high hopes for everyone.”
Tonight on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (9 p.m. ET/PT, ABC)
In Episode 5 of 6, Oliver places the burden of change squarely on the shoulders of Huntington High School students by asking them to choose between a lunch menu of processed junk food or fresh fare—and he’s shocked by their response.
His faith is shaken when he is forced to rely on the testimony of his biggest adversary, elementary school head cook Alice Gue, to help convince local hospital administrators to fund training for school cooks and provide sustainable resources to roll out the food revolution in Huntington.
Photo: Holly Farrell/ABC
Read More:Will “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” Succeed?
April 9th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
When asked about the recently proposed federal guidelines for foods sold at U.S. schools, British celebrity chef and Food Revolution host Jamie Oliver says they’re “definitely a step in the right direction.”
He is, however, concerned about how schools will fiscally implement any final rules.
“It’s great that we’ve got new standards being put forward,” he says. “However, if the right amount of funds aren’t delivered in conjunction with the standards, then [schools] won’t be able to implement the standards.”
Oliver believes revamping school food programs will succeed or fail based on “the training and empowerment and love given to school cooks.” Proper training, he says, will increase their motivation to help combat America’s childhood obesity epidemic.
School cooks will “understand it, they’ll be inspired, they’ll feel important,” he says.
“We’re not even anywhere near what needs to be put forward,” Oliver adds. “[Obesity] is killing children—your children. It’s changing the face of health and the health of Americans. And I think that we need to put into context the amount of money that needs to fix 30 and 40 years of, really, lack of investment—let’s be frank.
“I know money is everything,” he continues, “but let’s remember how much is being spent on war every month, to put it in perspective.”
Tonight on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (9 p.m. ET/PT, ABC)
In Episode 4 of 6, Oliver realizes the importance of moving his food revolution beyond the schools to involve the entire community of Huntington, West Virginia. He organizes a 1,000-person educational cook-a-thon, with participants ranging from steelworkers and firemen to parents and government officials.
Photo: Holly Farrell/ABC
Read More:School Lunch Guidelines: Jamie Oliver’s Take
April 2nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
I’m pleased to report that Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has found a fan base.
Friday night, when Oliver’s six-episode series airs, is generally home to low-viewership programs (“where good shows go to die,” in Hollywood speak). But the second episode of Food Revolution, which last week aired opposite NCAA men’s college basketball, pulled in a respectable 7.51 million viewers.
In tonight’s episode (9 p.m. ET/PT), Oliver continues to convince Huntington, WV, residents to offer fresh food in schools, despite opposition from the elementary school’s head cook.
Rhonda McCoy, school food services director, ultimately gives Oliver the green light to cook for the town’s high school, where he discovers a secret weapon: a group of motivated teenagers who understand the need for dietary changes. You’ll meet:
- Brittany, whose lifelong weight problem has caused irreversible liver damage and shortened her life expectancy
- Marisa, whose father died prematurely as a result of obesity
- Robert (see photo), a football player who struggles with his weight
- Brian, whose family is plagued by obesity
- Emily, who dreams of attending culinary school
Oliver asks these teens to prepare a surprise gourmet meal for their state senator, local legislators and community leaders so he can raise the funding needed to teach school staff how to cook fresh food.
Our advice: Tune in or set the TiVo/DVR.
For Your Organic Bookshelf
Photo: Holly Farrell/ABC
Read More:Jamie Oliver Reaches Out to Struggling Teens
March 31st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Numerous public health groups are praising the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for unanimously approving a bipartisan bill that establishes federal nutrition standards for foods sold on school campuses.
“Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 57 million—or 1 in 5 Americans—have pre-diabetes,” says Christine T. Tobin, RN, MBA, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. “If current trends continue, one in three children will face a future with diabetes. Sensible nutrition policies like this one, which will provide our students with healthy food choices in their schools, will help us reverse these trends. Starting with strong nutrition standards in our nation’s schools will put us on the path to stop diabetes.”
“Obesity, which results from poor diet and physical inactivity, is a significant and growing American problem that begins in childhood,” says Molly Daniels, interim president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
“American Cancer Society research clearly shows that obesity correlates with and causes cancer,” she adds. “Adoption of national school nutrition standards will be an important tool for obesity prevention for children.”
“Each school day, parents entrust schools to care for their children all across our nation,” says National PTA President Charles J. Saylors. “Ensuring that salty, fatty junk foods and sugary drinks are no longer an option in our schools truly honors that trust and opens students up to healthier options.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
Read More:Public Health Groups Applaud School Nutrition Guidelines
March 29th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Just a few days after being ridiculed by David Letterman on national TV, British Chef Jamie Oliver’s nutritional efforts are being vindicated back home, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Jamie partnered with Parliament to institute his “Feed me Better” campaign in 2004, and Oliver, along with other healthy food enthusiasts, have been waiting with bated breath to see if the efforts are paying off. New results show that UK students in Math and Science are performing better — now that they are being fed Mexican bean wraps and creamy coconut fish, rather than the fatty, salty, deep-fried “turkey twizzlers” and “chicken dinosaurs.”
Absenteeism is down, too. The number of kids who stayed home sick from school dropped 15% from before Oliver’s campaign. Imagine how much more productive adults would be if companies replaced candy bar and soda vending machines with healthier food!
Really, this shouldn’t be surprising at all. Our minds are connected with our bodies, and if you nourish your body, you’ll make your mind sharper, too. To all the college kids: remember that next time you think of ordering greasy pizza when you’re pulling an all-nighter.
This is fantastic news for Britain. Now if only America would try out Jamie’s common-sense approach to nutrition in schools, we’d have something to celebrate on this side of the pond.
Read More:Jamie Oliver is Making British Kids Smarter
March 26th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
[caption id="attachment_6678" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Photo courtesy of nafmo"]
We all know that too much sugar is bad for us, but it turns out that not all sugars are created equal. A new Princeton study gave three groups of rats three different diets: normal rat food, water with table sugar (sucrose), and water with high-fructose corn syrup. They found out that calorie-for-calorie, high fructose corn syrup made the rats gain more weight even than table sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup, if you didn’t know, is a major ingredient in most soft drinks, low-quality “maple” syrup, and many popular cereals.
Psychology Professor Bart Hoebel, take it away:
When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.
This study should be the nail in the coffin for the unhealthy school lunch programs that fill our kids with high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and worse — worries about this unhealthy diet, and the effects that the diet has on students’ learning abilities, have fueled an organic school lunch movement.
If you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to end up like those poor, plump lab rats, check out recipes for superfood chocolate candy, organic tarte tatin, or the amazing organic fig almond frangipani tart — they’re all HFCS-free!
Read More:High-Fructose Corn Syrup is Worse than Sugar