Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution


In the food blogging world, we’re all into the most exciting healthy, “real” foods.  A purple potato gives a sweet potato a run for its money.  A smoothie chalk full of spinach elicits a smile.  Kale is probably the most exciting things since sliced bread.  Outside the healthy food blog world, I don’t think this is particularly common…

This morning, I watched the first episode (or sneak peek, first episode premieres on Friday March 26th) of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

I was really torn while watching this for one major reason: who is he to go into this town and tell people they need to change?  I don’t disagree that there needs to be a change, but can we really tell people that what they are doing is wrong?    I was so shocked when people in the town were so resistant to Jamie.  It made me question whether people can change.

In my field, we face similar issues all the time.  In all my classes, people spout out recommendations, and I’m always the first one to point out that you can’t change what people do.   Planners want people to live in high density areas, but I know that not everyone wants to do that.  Who am I to tell you that you can’t live in the suburbs?  Planners want people to use their car less, but I know that no everyone is going to take public transit, bike or walk. You can change people’s options, but you can’t make them do something they don’t want to do.

I value people’s right to choose how to live their lives, but obviously based on the field I’m in, I also want people to live better lives.  There’s a fine line between recommendation/suggestion and paternalism.

Is food the exception?  Should we be able to tell people that they are eating terribly because it is detrimental to their health and ultimately harming society?

Honestly, I feel like a little bit of a hypocrite saying food is the exception, but to some extent I see it as a life and death situation.  Although, I understand that for some sprawl and over use of cars is as well in terms of the environment.

Whether or not you’ve seen the show, what do you think is the best way to get people to change their eating habits?  Should we even bother?  Should we let those who choose to eat poorly (for whatever reason… economic, cultural, social, etc.) just eat what they want?  Should we be concerned about the health of others or is health a personal thing that we need not meddle in?

I’m interested to see the next episode this Friday.  It’s definitely a show that’s right up my alley.

Anyone else watch this or interested in watching this show?

Anyway, the fella is here so we’re spending some time together.  Blogging might be a little sparse this week.

Hope the weather is better where ever you are!  Have a great day!

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21 thoughts on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

  1. Lauren says:

    I have had this same argument over and over in my head. And even as a heathcare provider, the debate is still there, the answers unavailable. No one wants to be told anything. But, they are more likely to accept it if they think it is their idea. It becomes a major game of management. I have to learn how to manage and “manipulate” others so that they will arrive at the healthiest conclusion on their own. It is like raising children, actually. Only you have to be sneakier because they are adults. This is really the hardest work in my life, but probably the most important.

    I am greatly encouraged by bloggers and the Food, Inc., NoImpactMan, Jamie Oliver people. I think that they are on a personal campaign and that is the purest. They are allowed to have their own agenda under the guise of entertainment and social movement. It is liberatiing for me! I can refer to them as touchpoints of health along this journey. As much as I hate commercialism and marketting, you have to market these ideas. Sallie Field has probably done more for Osteoporosis than she realizes. Oprah, Suzzane Sommers, Livestrong…all touchpoints for conversations on health. Pop culture is an aid at times.

    If I could argue that women are a litmus test for our culture, I would have to argue that women are in distress. By and large, all women are overextended, overwhelmed, and in distress…mostly due to over-consumerism, hurried, unhealthy lifestyles. I can bring them to tears in about 10 minutes if I just am a good listener and mirror back to them what they are saying. Then, I use Nathanial Branden’s tactic, by saying, “So, If you choose to believe yourself and what you are saying about your life, then what would you do to change this situation?” They usually come up with wonderful solutions. They tend to believe these solutions more than the ones that I prescribe.
    ~L

  2. actorsdiet says:

    i think it’s important to educate, but not get on our soap boxes. ultimately, we want people to have access and information – but it’s their decisions.

  3. Lauren says:

    The great thing about a blog is exactly that! It is your soap box. All yours. SOAP away! Wax eloquent! Make an argument! Risk conflict, failure! Do we believe that social change can occur? Will we risk being a part of it or will we sit on the sidelines watching others take all the risk?

  4. healthyexposures says:

    Great, informative post, Karla. Thanks for bringing the show to my attention! Sounds right up my alley and I can’t wait to catch it.
    Since I haven’t seen the show, I don’t know how forceful he is so it’s hard to say from that perspective – but it sounds like he’s really pushing his beliefs. On the one hand – I love when people go out and do that, even though I am far more subdued than that. I feel pushing ideas on people only turns them against it, like its human nature! But subtly educating and encouraging is the way to go – much like actorsdiet suggested. I wish I was more vocal about health and that sort of thing – I don’t really vocalize any of my health & nutrition views to anyone at work or many of the people I come into contact with daily. But – I’ve noticed my boss becoming increasingly interested in what I’m eating, why, what makes it different; and what makes it better. He’ll ask questions – but I’m willing to bet if I was just spouting off that information at my own free will, all day long to whoever’s ear was available – I’d become laughing stock and he’d never give more nutritious options a chance.
    Not sure if I missed the mark with that answer – sorry about that, haha. Anyways – can’t wait to read others views of the issue, and especially can’t wait to see the show! I still need to catch Food, Inc, though! :X
    Have a great week with the boy – enjoy your break!!

  5. Heather says:

    I have this waiting for me on my DVR!! I can’t wait to watch it- I’ve heard people are on the fence about whether it was a positive or negative thing to do…I really need to see for myself!

  6. louisianagrown says:

    I’m not too big into watching television, so my only knowledge of this show comes from reading blogs. In general, I think the idea of forcing our opinions on people is a little crazy. Yes, we know that eating real food makes you healthier, but who are we to say that everyone has to reach our standards of health? Not too long ago, people were barely making it to their 40s and dying of infectious diseases. Now, with modern medicine and education, people are living well beyond that, but everyone has to die of something. If someone chooses to go out because of their unhealthy eating choices, we can’t change them. All we can do is educate people in a respectful way and hope that they go in their right direction on their own. Being forceful just makes you seem elitist and unreasonable, and I don’t think it will make anyone take you seriously.

  7. Laura Georgina says:

    I’m on the fence about Jamie Oliver and his tactics, though I definitely give him props for going out on a limb for healthy living and good food.

    I haven’t seen this show, but I caught a few of his previous ones while I lived in England, especially the one where he went to a school kitchen and got the school to change the menus. The thing is, his show might convince a small percentage of people to make big changes, but his antics can potentially turn people off to the message, to the point that they won’t even listen to what he has to say. Then again, his in-your-face approach got some much-needed attention for the issue in Britain, and some very important regulation changes were made in the year or two after the show aired.

    So yeah, the Jamie approach can work–but you have to have the contacts and clout to push for changes, not just suggest. In general, though, I really think it’s best to be kind to people and show rather than tell them how to do things. People are more likely to make small changes over time than big ones all of a sudden–it’s just a shame that sometimes, gradual isn’t fast enough.

    Enough sombre talk! Enjoy your time with the fella and the SPRINGTIME!!! I won’t be ungrateful to tropical climates, but I REALLY miss the change of seasons, especially spring….

  8. jaclyn@todayslady says:

    Such a great post!! I haven’t seen the show but I definitely want to watch the next episode!! I think that the information about healthy eating should be brought to attention more often than it is in work settings and schools. Its all over tv and in magazines but seeing something on tv or reading about it can easily be ignored. I feel that workplaces that have wellness programs are taking the right step and I strongly feel that food choices at schools should all be healthy with a focus on whole foods. Kids should be taught about healthy eating and should grow up eating whole foods so that it’s more second nature to them!
    I think I could keep going on about this subject but I’m going to stop here.

    All of these comments are great!!!

  9. Gracie @ Girl Meets Health says:

    I definitely think that there are pros and cons to this show/movement, as there usual are. But when it comes down to it, I think that the benefits far outweigh the downsides. If this show/movement can get people excited to eat healthy, I don’t care how it’s done! We NEED this sort of movement in today’s society, or else we’re just going to keep going down a path of ignorance and…french fries.

  10. Kelly says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the life and death situation thing. But I do disagree in a sense, I think you that while you can’t MAKE people do anything, you can make their decision to do something easier with certain incentives, whatever those happen to be. As in, making parking expensive, but offering inexpensive, reliable public trans to persuade and motivate people not to drive as much. Stuff like that. I think the same thing happens with food. There are just so few incentives for people to show locally and buy organic food because it’s more expensive, not as convenient, and often not available. But if you change the circumstances, you can change the behavior.

  11. sweetandsweat says:

    I totally saw the first episode of his show on hulu. I think he was a bit…sudden and quick with his changes on food. I believe people should and can change their eating habits but it can’t be all of a sudden. I think switching slowly is the key to that town’s success. Also, the kid’s are eating JUNK in that town. Pink milk with cereal AND pizza for breakfast? Ridiculous!

  12. balancejoyanddelicias says:

    I really like your point that it’s hard to change people and even better, should we try to change others? from one hand, i think everyone has the right to choose the life they want to live, but from the other hand, I’m afraid that not everyone is informed about their choices. I’m against paternalism in all aspect of life (including economics which is my field) but I do think it’s necessary to suggest/recommend to people who are not making the right choice (when the right choice is obvious) by informing them or even challenge them to change for a certain period, if they like the new life style, then they’ll stick to it without forcing them, if they still want to go back to their old habit, fine, that’s a choice.

  13. Jenn (www.j3nn.net) says:

    I don’t believe in telling anyone how they should live their lives. I believe in free will and self-expression; live and let live. However, I am in favor of educating people, but not nudging them in one direction or the other. Let them make up their mind for themselves. Put the information out there, make it available, and most of all: make it truthful and . There is nothing worse than giving only partial information, which ultimately breeds ignorance.

    As far as food goes, it’s quite simple. Just encourage people to eat real food (most of the time), but don’t be obnoxious about it. Food and eating should be enjoyable and shouldn’t come off as punishment. I also feel it’s wrong to look down on someone just for what they eat. They shouldn’t be belittled or treated like children. Instead they should be taught, but ONLY if they are willing participants. I don’t believe in forcing anything upon anyone that can decide for themselves.

    I also feel there is a lot of borderline orthorexia in the food blog community. I see so many bloggers that come off too apologetic for eating something that’s considered taboo in the healthy living community. To me, that kind of mentality isn’t healthy! I think even the healthiest and most knowledgeable people in the community are too hard on themselves and make themselves feel too guilty about indulgences. Sometimes I just want to say, “HEY! Just enjoy it and don’t worry about showing us the other half of the cookie that you DIDN’T eat” LOL 🙂

    Jenn

  14. Christine (The Raw Project) says:

    Good question, most people are resistant when you just tell them they’re doing it wrong and judge – can’t really blame them, especially if said accuser is not able to justify eating right or set a good example of why it’s better. People will change if they really see the value in it and the best way in my experience is to just be a good example.

    When I visited my inlaws in November, they were judgmental of my healthy eating habits and not willing to change their very set-in eating habits. The other day, I got an email from my mother-in-law asking about the Vita-Mix and which one she should buy after keeping up with my site and seeing good healthy recipes – I was shocked, but really happy for them.

  15. Karin says:

    Ok, I must admit that I love Jamie Oliver. I used to watch his earliest shows with my mum all the time and he is one of the reasons why I feel so passionate about cooking now.
    I think that sometimes there has to be someone who doesn’t look away and educates people even if there’s a huge resistance at first. He managed to change a lot already. Back in the day when Tony was President he said that they will change the school’s food (after Jamie went to some schools and -often unsuccessfully- offered healthy food). It must have been frustrating for him because no one would listen (let’s be honest, most people don’t believe their parents either when they say that greens are good) but if some schools are going to change their menus then that’s great!

    I think that most people don’t really know much about food. Even my friends laughed a bit about me when I mentioned proteins (“What the hell are proteins?”). But it’s true: why does he have the right to go there and tell them what to eat? Well I think that we’ll never know the answer but I’m glad that there are people like him.
    A bad diet could make you ill after all. Living in the suburbs doesn’t. 🙂

  16. Lele says:

    While I absolutely admire his goals, the show made me roll my eyes. The major allure of junk food for Americans is that it is quick and cheap. Yes, in an ideal world, everyone would cook beautiful veggie-rich home-cooked meals every day. But cost: 200 calories of a glazed donut costs 23 cents, and 200 calories of broccoli costs $1.93.
    And convenience matters. Had he given tips like making a big batch of vegetable soup on Sunday afternoon and eating it all week, that would’ve been good. Not making everything from scratch every day.

  17. simplyshaka says:

    I love the idea he is trying to get across but think there could have been a better execution of it. But then again, the networks need viewers for ratings, advertisers and such. I think stating his case of why he is doing this, what impact their eating habits,not so active lifestyle, etc. are impacting them in a townhall before he went to the radio station, cafeteria and all would have made a smoother transition.

  18. Erin says:

    I’d like to see this show — hopefully it’s something I can track down when I get back to the US. That said, I don’t know very much about it besides your description but I do think education is key. People would eat better (and feed their children better) if they knew more about the negatives of certain foods — but at the same time, money obviously plays a huge role. There needs to be a balance between education and subsidizing healthy food, not just corn products.

  19. Nicole says:

    Great post Karla! You bring up some excellent points. In my experience, telling people they need to change doesn’t work. If they don’t see the benefit to change and only barriers, it will never happen. For most people, their weight and appearance are what get them to switch into healthy mode. For others, diabetes. For others, nothing…they’re adamant on maintaining their eating habits. It’s so important to meet people where they are. People walk into my office expecting the food police, and I will never give them that. If I can get them to commit to one, very small, very doable, relevant change…the rapport builds and in the future when I see them, we can build upon that change. Great points, great post! And thanks so much for your sweet comment yesterday, I loved it 🙂

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