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Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Episode 2

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Last week (and in the previous hour) on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Jamie came to Huntington, West Virgina and met with challenges and failures at every turn. A radio DJ full of attitude, uncooperative lunch ladies, delicious-looking chicken battling against pizza (and losing), and a newspaper article blasting Jamie’s project and taking his quotes out of context. He certainly has his work cut out for him.

Episode 2 opens with a visit back to the local radio station, where he’s explaining the newspaper article and defending himself. DJ Rod is civil, but admits that he still doesn’t like Jamie at all. If Jamie wins over DJ Rod, I’ll be delighted, because the guy is just a sourpuss.

The rest of the recap, after the cut:

Then we visit Jamie’s Kitchen, the downtown storefront offering free cooking lessons and shopping/nutrition advice, where a group of kids from the elementary school visits to learn a lesson about food. Jamie wants to show them what goes into chicken nuggets. First, he carves up a chicken to show them the various valuable parts; then he chops up the remaining carcass, adds the meat, bone, skin and other bits to a food processor, and proceeds to show the kids how a little breading on the top makes chicken nuggets. Then he throws them into a pan of oil and asks the kids who would eat the nuggets. Almost every single kid raises their hand, and you can see Jamie visibly deflate. It seems that this is the first time the ground-up-chicken-bits lesson hasn’t worked.

Next up, Jamie returns to the elementary school, and this time he won’t give the kids a choice for lunch — It’s his food or nothing. And he’s wearing … a pea suit. Which I can’t say out loud without giggling. He has a meeting with the lunch ladies (I know they don’t like to be called “lunch ladies,” but it’s what I’ve always called them.) where there are questions about meeting the nutrition guidelines. Ugh. Then he visits classrooms and the playground in his pea suit (giggle) — most of the kids don’t recognize the suit, because they don’t know what fresh in-pod peas look like. For lunch, he’s serving pasta, focaccia, a salad; the trays also have an apple, a container of yogurt, and a bottle of milk. I have to admit, I don’t think I could eat all of that. It’s a huge bunch of food for a kid; no wonder a lot is still going into the garbage. A lot of the kids appear to eat the yogurt and drink the sweetened milk, and don’t have much else.

After lunch, Jamie goes into Mrs. Blake’s classroom of six-year-olds to find out what they know about fresh food. None of the kids can identify tomatoes; one of them says they’re potatoes (although almost all of them know what tomato catsup is). Cauliflower is labeled as broccoli. Eggplant is called a pear. But all of the kids know chicken nuggets, pizza, and french fries on sight. Jamie teaches the kids that potatoes are made into fries, and tomatoes are made into catsup, but overall it’s depressing that the kids don’t know what most fresh vegetables are.

A week after his first visit, Jamie returns to the Edwards house. They say they’ve been cooking the recipes that Jamie left with them, and even dad who’s returned from the road is liking the food. Although there are a lot of ingredients left in the fridge, the youngest girl says her favorite meal for the week was pizza, and there’s a McD cup sitting on the table. Jamie takes the whole Edwards family to the doctor for a checkup, where they find out that Justin, the 12-year-old son, appears to have the early signs of diabetes. They do a finger-stick test to check his HbA1c levels (a test that gives a general look at the last 3 months of blood sugar history). Justin’s blood sugars are all right for now, but it’s likely he’ll develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and all of the other problems of insulin resistance if he keeps on eating like he’s doing. The doctor tells the Edwards that Justin may lose 30 or 40 years of his life if he doesn’t get healthier, and the family is determined to get him on a weight-loss program.

Back at the elementary school, Jamie invites the kids and their parents for a visual demonstration. He pours chocolate milk (with more added sugar, he tells them, than a fizzy drink), sloppy joes, french fries, and nachos into a big tarp. All together, it’s a disgusting brown sludge. Then a truck brings in a dumpster full of fat, which represents the extra fat the kids eat in one year. The display hits a chord with the parents; several of them interview that it was the wake-up call they needed, and others wonder why their kids are being fed this stuff. Later at the school, over in Mrs. Blake’s first-grade class, the kids have been studing vegetables (Good on you, Mrs. Blake!) and Jamie quizzes the kids. They do a lovely job, and Jamie just lights up.

Justin Edwards comes by Jamie’s Kitchen to learn to cook. But the cooking lesson also includes a lesson in self-confidence. Justin not only creates a tasty-looking chicken stir fry, but he also walks a little taller. Although at 12, he probably didn’t need all of Jamie’s dating advice.

Jamie’s nervous about his last day cooking for the elementary school. There’s a chili con carne, cole slaw, and beef fajitas. But a big question is how to get forks to the kids. Jamie’s flabbergasted that the kids don’t get knives (or even forks), and the lunch ladies are flabbergasted that kids in kindergarten would be given knives. Jamie’s horrified that kids in America, from age 4 to 10, aren’t given proper utensils and have to eat with their hands. Jamie wins this one, and silverware is pulled out of plastic-wrapped storage. Rhonda, the woman in charge of food for the school district, visits with the school superintendant to see how day three goes. Most of the kids don’t appear to know how to use their knives, but Jamie and the school principal and some teachers go around to show the kids how to work a knife and fork together. There are also “I’ve Tried Something New” stickers given out, which (because stickers are awesome) get the kids to at least try some of the new foods.

The lunch ladies come out to the cafeteria to receive some letters from the kids and sincere thanks from Jamie as part of “cook appreciation.” Then it’s time for Jamie to talk with Rhonda: the kids ate a lot of today’s food, and it looks colorful and tastes good; so even though the invoices for his ingredients came back at twice the usual amount, they’re going to give him another couple of weeks. Although he needs to submit nutrition breakdowns of his meals. Hooray, a victory!

Next week, Jamie will visit a high school, and many of the same problems will arise — not meeting the school district guidelines (there aren’t enough vegetables in a 7-veggie stir fry) and having french fries count as vegetables. But he’ll also get some of the high school students to cook a gourmet meal for 80 of Huntington’s biggest movers and shakers.

This was a nice second episode, after seeing Jamie have so many setbacks in the first. I may not personally agree with all of Jamie’s nutrition ideas, but the general idea of getting people to eat whole foods cooked fresh is one that I’d hope everyone can get behind. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a dish of my homemade ice cream.

Missy normally blogs about food, TV, and food-related TV over at