Monday, April 19, 2010

Jamie Oliver


So I've caught two episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and I'm torn.

Jamie Oliver's a great guy. He truly loves food and introducing good, healthy food to anyone he can get his hands on. I think (though what do I know?) that he's really sincere. Yes, he's probably making a truckload of money off his show but I remain convinced that his heart is in the right place.

If you haven't seen any episodes of the programme, here it is in a nutshell:

After doing his best to straighten out the abysmal nutrition of his fellow Brits (see: Feed Me Better and Jamie's Ministry of Food), celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver decides to cross the pond and bring his campaign for healthy eating to Huntingdon, W. Virginia, the fattest city in the U.S. This conclusion is based on data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not everyone agrees with the method used to determine this unfortunate distinction, but let's just say Huntingdon's population is not amongst the fittest in the country.

In comes Jamie on his fair steed--or just with his trusty wok, scallions, cooking get the picture--to save Huntingdon from the scourge of high fat, high sodium junk food.

I'm not against the idea, not at all. I think it's pretty tragic when a child doesn't recognize a potato, as was the case in Episode 2. I think it's truly frightening when fresh foods don't stand a chance against pizza in the school cafeteria or when an obese 12 year-old is diagnosed as being pre-diabetic.

What I don't like about the show, though, is how it follows the rules of "reality TV", with its manufactured crises. Last night saw Jamie pitted against a local morning radio show host who was set on basically driving Jamie out of town. But Jamie saved the day, showing the "Dawg" oversized coffins, having the funeral director tell him about how hard it is to cremate an obese corpse, introducing him to a young, obese woman whose doctor had told her that her liver was so damaged (presumably from eating junk food) that she only had a maximum of 7 years to live. The Dawg was properly chastised and got on the Jamie bandwagon.

It was just a tad too manufactured for my liking.

Maybe I'm just fed-up with reality TV in general. As you may recall, I have watched the Biggest Loser once and was totally disgusted with how the contestants are browbeaten into weight loss submission. It clearly makes for great TV. Otherwise the show would have been off the air years ago, but I prefer the truth, not a facsimile thereof. Just like I prefer real food to products that masquerade as food--especially of the lo-cal, lo-fat variety.

So Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has me torn. I clearly prefer it to the Biggest Loser. I would much rather see thousands of people learning to make real, healthy, tasty food and reach a weight that may not qualify them for the Biggest Loser but is sustainable over the long run than watch a handful of people exercise and starve themselves to reach a goal that is not maintainable for ordinary people leading ordinary lives. I much prefer Jamie's sense of humour to Jillian's barking hatred (which is perhaps laid on thick just for the camera--maybe she's a pussycat in real life).

But in the end, I prefer reality to un-reality TV.

This being said, since Medium is now into re-runs, I'll probably watch Jamie next Friday!

Any thoughts?


  1. I cannot stand Gillian McKeith. On the occasions when I ended up accidentally seeing her show I always felt so sorry for the people she was bullying. I don't think she has any official qualifications btw!!!

    I would love to see her and Paul Mckenna square off in a debate. She would lose hands down IMO.

    Not seen Jamie Olivers show but I can imagine what its like. At the end of the day no-one can be bullied into good health. All you can do is make sure you they are aware of all the facts

  2. Sally, I was actually referring to a trainer named Jillian Michaels who's on the Biggest Loser, an American show. What a cultural mix-up!

    I just looked up Gillian McKeith and I have stumbled upon her on Canadian TV. She is a stuck-up piece of work.

    If Jamie's Food Revolution comes to British TV, I wonder how it will be received...

  3. I actually like the biggest loser and have on several occasions mentioned that each contestant has to hit a caloric intake goal. They stress that while you work out so much for so long that it is vital to make sure you are eating enough calories (of the right food) to promote weight loss. While the biggest loser may be controversial to some...they are under close supervision of top notch doctors and trainers. Anywho...

    I like Jamie Oliver's approach as well. As he may not working with just a handful of contestants - he is affecting loads of people training how to make right decisions.

    And, our feelings on Jillian Michael's....while she may an abrasive personality - she gets results.

    Quite the conversational post you have here...thanks! Keep up the hard work!

  4. I felt like Jamie's "feud" with the radio show DJ was really manufacturered and contrived. The DJ was adamantly against Jamie and after just a few hours with him he got magically turned around and is now his best friend? Puhlease. I'm glad I wasn't the only one that is sick of the "reality tv" manufactured BS.