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Monday, November 14, 2011

Jamie Oliver and the School Dinner Food Revolution


We just finished up watching Jamie Oliver's School Dinners, followed by Jamie's Return to School Dinners, on Netflix. If you've never seen the show it's a rather captivating documentary that follows Jamie Oliver as he tries to change the free government provided British public school lunches from questionable chicken nuggets, "turkey twizzlers" (you really don't want to know) and chips (a.k.a french fries), to hot healthy from scratch meals. He comes up with recipes that will provide meals for the same cost per student as the junk food, and then works with the lunch ladies to try and teach them how to cook from scratch, with various set backs and victories. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Jamie's School Dinners
Last night we watched the final episode of the four episode original series, followed back to back with Jamie's Return to School Dinners, which checks back in to see how things are progressing two years later. In the original series our biggest complaint was the "reality TV drama". Why did they need to show Jamie Oliver's home life? It seemed a tacked on way to make things more sensational. Yet when we watched the Return to School Dinners my husband and I asked each other, "Where is his wife? He must have gotten divorced. Why isn't his family in the show?", which is sort of funny.

So being the curious cat that I am, today I did a Google search on Jamie Oliver and checked out the Wikipedia entry on his personal life. Looks like he's still married to his ex-model wife Jules (Juliette Norton). Four kids now, two more then were featured in School Dinners.  Oh my, and get these names:  Poppy Honey Rosie Oliver,  Daisy Boo Pamela Oliver,  Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver and Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver. Poppy Honey? Daisy Boo and Buddy Bear? Apparently Jamie Oliver is indeed famous, and is right up there with the other Hollywood types in weird child naming practices.

While being nosy searching about for info on Mr. Oliver's home life, I  ran into a couple of interesting things...

Having tackled the diet of Great Britain's children, Jamie moved on to attempt to take over a town. Jamie's Ministry of Food was another 4-part BBC mini-series which came out in 2008. In it Oliver aimed to make the town of Rotherham, South Yorkshire "the culinary capital of the United Kingdom" and tried to get the town's inhabitants to learn how to cook fresh food and establish healthy eating as part of daily life. The townsfolks were taught recipes and asked to pass them on to family and friends.

Jamie Oliver's Pass Is On Campaign

Apparently there is this entire movement, The 'Pass It On' campaign, which launched from this series.  There is a Facebook group, and a fan-website, of folks trying to work together to teach others and to learn to cook healthy homemade meals. Pretty cool.

Finally, I found mention of another interesting TV series that I would love to see, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It's an ABC spin-off of School Dinners in which Jamie attempts to bring healthy lunches to kids in Huntington, West Virginia (Season 1) and Los Angeles, California (Season 2). From what I read the show was cancelled before the second season was brought to a close. Too bad. I would so love to see the North American version of School Dinners. I'm hoping both of these shows will make it to Netflix sometime soon.

So have you guys seen any of these shows?  What did you think? Particularly if anyone has watched the ABC Food Revolution series, I'd love to hear your views.

Disclosure:
I started to write up an email to my husband sharing all the Jamie Oliver info I read up on today, and then decided to make it into a post instead. So this post is brought to you mostly by my husband's unending love for food based television, and a tiny bit by the free Father's day Netflix subscription which we received back in June. Which, BTW is ending this month and we are totally renewing. Netflix rocks. So does Jamie Oliver. I believe this from the bottom of my heart, and have not been paid to say so.
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