Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Season 2: Episode 1 Recap

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Season 2 Episode 1

By Kristal Bailey 

Last season, Jamie Oliver tried to open the eyes of the unhealthiest city in America, Huntington, WV. This season, he's set his sights even bigger - sunny Los Angeles, California. But for a city that loves to have the camera's roll, he was met with some strong resistance.

Los Angeles has a healthy lifestyle image, but beneath the glitz and glamour lies a health epidemic spurred by unhealthy school lunch programs and a thriving fast food business.

LAUSD publicly denied him the right to film in any school or talk to their students about the lunch programs. So he's going to get the word out to make the board of education reconsider their decision. This started with a visit to KIIS FM with Ryan Seacrest (producer on the show) to try to get the parents of LA to get him in the schools. They got calls in from across the city from parents, siblings, friends all talking about the poor food options and fast food available in schools.

In Huntington, they set up Jamie's Kitchen where residents can still go to get free healthy cooking lessons and nutritional information. He set up a Jamie's Kitchen in Los Angeles, asking them to bring in their kids' lunches. If he can't go to the lunch rooms, he'll bring the food to him. After seeing packs and packs of processed food, it's the worst he's ever seen even after last season in West Virginia.

It's no wonder some schools have obsesity rates as high as 80%; all the food is made in one central location and then packaged and shipped it out to the schools. Kids are essentially eating airplane food everyday from the age of 4 to the age of 18. 

At the kitchen, he did a demonstration to show where meat comes from. He took a live cow and showed what cuts come from what parts of the cow and how much each cut is worth. After marking all the parts, he's left with some fatty pieces that are unfit for making it in to cuts and human meals. Usually it's used for dog food or animal chow, since they are considered unfit for human consumption with a high risk of E. Coli and salmonella.

However, in America, these pieces get turned into "pink slime" through a process of separating the meats, cleaning it with chemicals to get rid of any harmful bacteria, and then ground up again to resemble real food. But, "Pink slime" is allowed in any school in America by the USDA. In his horrifying demonstration, he was able to use a washing machine and house hold cleaning supplies like Ammonia to turn the unusable meat into "pink slime" that looked just like ground beef. This "pink slime" is in 70% of ground beef products, and allowed up to 15% in any patty or meal. It's not listed as an ingredient because it's considered a "process" so they don't have to list Ammonia on the packaging. At the moment, there's nothing on the label to indicate this is in US meat. The only way you can truly avoid "pink slime" is to watch a butcher grind up the meat right in front of you. 

As a father of four, this battle against childhood obsesity is personal. This season, he's brought his family along to LA and even his young daughters understand that they reason LAUSD is not letting him in to their schools is because they have something to hide and don't want him to tell the world how bad the situation really is. 

At a public board meeting, Jamie once again tries to appeal to the board to let him in to the schools. After his 3 minute spiel, they pass him off to the Head of Food Services and then off to the Director of Communications. It's a round about way to just get him out of the meeting and brush him off. The entire LAUSD institution is shutting him out. 

In addition to his work with school's, he's going to be taking a look at fast food in Los Angeles. Fast food has only really been around for the past 60 years, and it started right in LA. The big name fast food chains have shut him out just like LAUSD, but he will be taking a look at Petra's Burgers, an independent chain. 

While the owner, Deno, had nothing to hide, he definitely was reluctant to change anything. He wasn't going to take anything off the menu, and he was just fine using sugary syrups to flavor shakes instead of fresh fruit. The goal is to make his menu healthier, not change it completely. But, this restaurant is how his family survives, if Jamie's changes affect his sales it could damage their livelihood. 

He got Petra's burgers nutritionally analyzed and they had anywhere from 850 to 1,100 calories. So to reduce the calories, he brought Black Angus meat that was grass-fed and switched out the mayo for a yogurt based tahini sauce. While Deno loved the taste of the burger, the cost is just too much. Jamie's meat was $1.67 per patty, Deno's was roughly that much for an entire pound. 

He then tried to change out yogurt for ice cream in the milkshakes, but while it tasted good, Deno didn't consider that a milkshake at all. He can't sell a yogurt smoothie and call it a milkshake. On top of that, he openly admitted that he'd never serve a syrup flavored milkshake to his kids, but he's okay with serving this to his customers. And that right there, is the problem with the American food service mentality. 

In attempt to find some good news in LA, he stopped in the California School Nutrition Association Event. The first red flag is the Flavored Milk panel. Funded by the Milk Board, they were trying to say that it's a good thing to have flavored milk in school. But these milks have just as much sugar a soda! 

The hostility and stubbornness inspired him to create his own flavored milk panel. He was expecting a huge turn out, but only about 25 people showed. For this demonstation, he filled an entire school bus with the sugar that's in a week's worth of flavored milk consumed in LAUSD schools. It filled the bus to the brim and it was only 1/3 of the way through. When it was all done, 57 tons of sugar filled the bus and created a huge pile surrounding it. 

He thought he had it rough in Huntington, but here he's just gotten the cold shoulder from the institutions and a lukewarm response from the community. Tune in next week to see how Jamie Oliver handles the continued hostility from LAUSD and if he's able to work with Max Prep in Downtown LA. 

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution airs on ABC at 8/7 c. 

Follow Kristal on twitter at @kristal_bailey

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