Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

This is the most important thing on television: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Last year, when season one premiered, I curled up in bed with my laptop and watched episodes online, amazed by the power of food and what good food can do for you and how damaging the mysterious processed food can be. One episode inspired me to drag my butt out of bed and make a stir-fry for dinner. I felt better after that. Maybe Jamie was on to something…

Personally, having low amounts of gluten from the soy sauce was a giant step in the right direction for me. My normal dinners around that time consisted of wheat pasta and this all occurred a few months before my gluten free diagnosis. I was a sickly, unhealthy, exhausted and underweight 20-something at the time who used all her energy just trying to get through another 40-hour week at the office. Now I am the picture of good health and am full of energy and can once again tackle projects…still underweight though, but now am cooking and I have enjoyed creating meals from his very easy to follow (and make allergen-friendly substitutions) cookbook.

So why is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution so important?

Take a look at what you are eating.

The next generation of kids is eating garbage. Food is unidentifiable. There is nothing fresh about it. Obesity and health problems are rising.

I’m not saying everyone needs to go gluten and dairy free like me (okay, more like I’m cow’s milk free at this point). My food limitations are due to intolerances that developed after an appendectomy. What am I saying is we can grow a culture that values good, healthy food and encourages kids to keep making healthy decisions. When you give the kid an option between normal milk and chocolate/flavored milk, he or she is likely going to choose the chocolate/flavored milk. I know – I was that kid. I had white milk throughout grade school and drank it at home all the time, but when I got to high school and had the option, I always went with chocolate. Same with college. Did I have an issue with white milk? Not at all – I loved it. Chocolate just seemed better to me as a kid. Was I sacrificing nutrients for extra sugar? Probably. If only white milk was available, would I have sought out other beverage options, such as soda or juice? Nope.

In grade school, we had AMAZING cafeteria food. (I went to a Catholic school.) The lunch ladies were literally student’s grandmas and they cooked fresh one day a week. Monday’s were always hot dog’s by the fifth grader parents and Friday’s were over-processed pizza by the eighth grade parents. As my time progressed at this school, the fresh grandma cooking went away and more processed food was sold. Gone were homemade desserts. For safety and sanitation reasons, desserts had to be individually packaged. Translation: Hostess desserts. These were huge step backs for nutrition in schools. Even as a young student, it felt wrong that we were eating snowballs or twinkies rather than fresh, delicious homemade cupcakes made from a classmate’s mom.

Please watch this show. Please encourage everyone you know to do the same. And please make a difference in your community so as a society we can eat healthier and have a great respect for our bodies by feeding them properly. His website lists three different ways to get involved: Get Cooking, Your Community, and School Food. It is easy to start to make a difference by cooking and changing the way you eat at home so eating healthy, whole, fresh ingredients can be considered the norm in our over-processed, nutritionally bankrupt society. Your involvement can start with something as simple as teaching someone to cook a new recipe or open them up to a new food or show them how to properly prepare a vegetable.

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

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