It’s the final episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and the first episode I’ve watched on our new over-the-air HD antenna (instead of through our evil cable connection). So it’s double excitement night for me!
In the previous 5 episodes of the show, Jamie succeeded in several areas. He taught 1,000 people to cook. He won over school cooks and administrators. And he even won over the vitriolic DJ Rod. But he still needs to get funding to train the school district’s cooks. And looking forward, the show teases that the whole revolution is going to fall apart. Bring on the drama!
See how it all ends, after the jump!
After three months in the United States, Jamie still gets into the wrong side of his truck. Hee! He’s going to end the project with a “food festival,” whatever that may be. Doug Shiels from the local hospital will be meeting Jamie there, so hopefully the $150,000 needed for training might be coming his way. While he’s gabbing at the camera, Jamie drives through a red light and gets pulled over by a patrol officer. But he gets out of a ticket by showing what a heap of junk his truck is. Well played, sir.
Down at the food festival, it looks like it’s going to be set up like a farmer’s market. Tables and tents line the street. Jamie chats with one of the elementary school teachers (No more students falling asleep, and they’re more attentive!), a school principal, and the Edwards family (Who have lost a combined total of about a hundred pounds so far!), as well as the elementary school cooks. Doug Shiels shows up at the downtown kitchen and tells Jamie that the hospital is giving $80,000 to train the school cooks, and an additional $50,000 to keep Jamie’s Kitchen running. Then Jamie shows that he’s changed the name to Huntington’s Kitchen. Also, US Foods is going to supply the kitchen with food for a year.
Special guests Rascal Flatts are there to perform a free concert that afternoon in a local auditorum. And it appears to be simulcast on a big screen on the street outside of Huntington’s Kitchen. They play us out to …
… a montage of clips of Jamie’s press tour after his visit to Huntington. He’s with Larry King, Oprah, Rachael Ray, and a variety of other TV and radio programs. He also won the TED prize for his work. But three months later, and the news isn’t good. Rhonda is considering bringing processed food back in. There’s a stockpile of processed foods that apparently need to be used. So Jamie flies back on April 12th to check back in with Huntington.
He sits outside the school board building, waiting for Rhonda to come back from lunch. He shows us a news story about the stockpile of food, and a story about how Rhonda’s planning on making a “processed food Friday” to get rid of the surplus. He compares it to saving your crack use for one day a week. Once inside, Rhonda shows Jamie the boxes and boxes of chicken nuggets, french fries, and other foods in the freezer. And she also tells him that they’ve had to place an order with the USDA for the following year, so there are more boxes on the way. And it’s illegal to sell or give away the USDA processed foods. Rhonda is going to try to cancel next year’s order, but she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Jamie’s next visit is to Central City Elementary to see how things are going. The principal has lost 25 pounds, which is great. But the flavored milks are back, which is out of the principal’s hands. The food on the lunch line looks good, but some parents are sending kids to school with brown-bag lunches (one kid’s lunch is plain potato chips, BBQ potato chips, colorful breakfast cereal [looks like Trix to me], and a bottle of milk). Several other kids have Lunchables. And regulations state that if a kid brings a lunch from home, they must be allowed to eat that and only that. It’s pretty horrifying.
Back downtown at the kitchen, Jamie plots out a school cook boot camp so that problems can get sorted out. He needs an ambassador to help talk to the other school cooks, and he realizes that person should be Alice. He invites the Central City cooks over for tea and a chat. The ladies tell Jamie that the kids are getting used to the food, and it’s not as hard as they thought it would be. Even though the cooks won’t name names, it appears that Rhonda might be the common problem. They’re all ready to help out with whatever Jamie needs. Even though Alice has received hate mail because of the program, she’s still ready to go.
They hop in Jamie’s broke-down truck (which he calls his “Lovemobile”) and visit several other elementary schools to invite them to the boot camp. They tear down flavored milk advertisements from the walls. They visit DJ Rod, and Alice talks up the new recipes. And DJ Rod serves Jamie a glass of pale American lager because Rod lost the beer-bet on whether Jamie could teach 1,000 people to cook in 5 days.
Jamie’s going to host the boot camp in an outbuilding behind Pastor Steve’s church. Jamie also helped get the outbuilding fitted with a full kitchen and a basketball court. It looks pretty sweet. There are tents set up at the boot camp where parents, teachers, and lunch cooks can talk to all of the visitors, and pass on hints and information. The school cooks not only show other cooks what they’re making, but they got a chance to show parents what their kids will be eating. Then Jamie talks to groups of parents, giving them advice on what to pack in a brown bag lunch if they choose to send a lunch with their kids. The school superintendent tells Jamie about what needs to happen — the USDA needs to be willing to exchange the stockpile of processed foods for the fresh foods they need. And it sounds like Jamie needs to negotiate with the USDA to make that possible.
He thanks everyone for coming to the boot camp, and encourages everyone to just do their own little bit. And then we really kick into last-episode mode, with a slo-mo montage of heartwarming moments from the series, underscored with Rascal Flatts singing about their wish. It’s over to us, says Jamie — do we want this generation of kids to live shorter lives than their parents? Or will we expect more, demand more, and want more? Let’s hope people stand up for healthy choices. The show ends with celebrities declaring their support: Gwyneth Paltrow, Randy Jackson, Heidi Klum, and some guy with an athlete’s build who I don’t recognize. Also, Cookie Monster! We also get words of praise from tons of ordinary people making differences. Will the revolution succeed in the long run? Only time will tell.
Missy writes about food, TV, and food TV at themissy.com.