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At first when I read about this I thought it would be on the Food Network or some other cable network but it's not, it's on ABC and it's going to, hopefully, reach a wide audience because it needs to.

I showed this clip to my daughter in pieces to see if she knew the same vegetables.  She did, I held my breath, I was worried.  Okay, she didn't know the eggplant, I don't cook much of it.  But she knew everything else.    But really, does this seem a bit odd that a child wouldn't know what a tomato looks like, or a potato?

And I've written a bit about this issue as many others have.  But right now, I just want to urge everyone to tune into this show, I want it to be a success and I want others to want to tune in, because it's a message that Americans need to hear and to heed.  Things need to change.

I wrote about Oliver getting the TED Prize.  I mentioned to many that I really hoped he would be the messenger here in the US since he did such a bang up job in the UK.  So I guess he heard.

GET TO KNOW - Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

When we first heard the term "Food Revolution," we weren't exactly sure what that meant. Did a lazy Susan suddenly start spinning out of control? Was ketchup attempting a hostile takeover to dethrone salsa as top condiment? But then, with world-renowned chef and best-selling author Jamie Oliver's name attached, we knew it was going to be all about "good food." Enough said.

Yes, Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef is taking on obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the USA, where our nation's children are the first generation NOT expected to live as long as their parents. Now that's scary!

Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces with the thought-provoking new series, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which debuts FRIDAY, MARCH 26 9/8c on ABC.

In the six-part series, Jamie heads to Huntington, West Virginia. Why? Well, Huntington has been called the unhealthiest city in America. Jamie wants to do something about that. Through his efforts in this one town, he hopes to start a chain reaction of positive change across the country.

Jamie says, "There's an incredible community in Huntington, and I want this experience to be a celebration of what we can achieve when people come together." Jamie goes on to say, "Wonderful stories will unfold in Huntington, and hopefully this will inspire the rest of the States." Sounds like a plan!

Needled by local naysayers, challenged by ingrained unhealthy habits and government bureaucracy, and welcomed by some of the most surprising youngsters, families and local leaders, Jamie shows how, in just a few short months, he tried to transform Huntington as a template for the entire country. The stakes? Simply the health of our country's citizens and the legacy for its children.

The series is loosely based on Jamie Oliver's U.K. series, Jamie's Ministry of Food and Jamie's School Dinners, which saw his successful grass-roots efforts improve the school lunches in communities there. For the latter show, it resulted in a total overhaul of the school dinner program in the U.K. In America, he's turning his attention to helping people of all ages eat more balanced meals and cook with fresh ingredients, not only at schools, but also homes, and workplaces.

Jamie's recent television credits include Oprah's Big Give for ABC. He is the author of nine popular cookbooks, including The Naked Chef, Cook with Jamie and Jamie at Home. Hyperion published his latest cookbook, Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals, in October 2009.

We can't wait to see how Jamie makes out in Huntington. We're also curious to see if his efforts there catch on in other places. Let the revolution begin!

Yep, I'm shilling for the corporation, not because I love ABC, but because I believe in the cause, I believe that what Jamie Oliver is trying to do is the right thing to do and that starting in one town is the first thing.  And that it needs to start somewhere.  And our schools need our help.

It was reported late last year showed that in 2008 “nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat.”  Which means for many of the 31 million lunches served in our schools, on a daily basis, are the only source of nutrition for the children who receive them.   But how can our schools serve a nutritious meal with just 90 cents per student and nutrition guidelines that haven’t changed in over 15 years?  

Yep, that's right.  It's serious and and it's about getting more local produce into our school lunches, supporting smaller, organic farmers and about teaching our kids about where their food comes from and how to cook.  It's about getting back to time a time when food was slower.  That's right, Slow Food.

In an interview, Chef Ann Cooper, "The Renegade Lunch Lady", laid out what just one dollar more per meal would mean for our school lunches,  “Potentially it could save their lives. It's that big of deal. If we add another dollar dedicated to fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, with a priority on regional procurement and pass and implement an Institute of Medical guidelines, I think we can reverse the obesity crisis, and we can save the health of our children and save their lives.”

And while I'm at it, check out Jill Richardson's piece at Alternet, Are School Lunches Setting Kids Up for Obesity and Poor Nutrition?.

While there are many factors that contribute to children being overweight, the big kahuna of the child obesity debate is our National School Lunch Program. Each day, approximately 10 percent of the American population participates in the National School Lunch Program, eating at least one meal that was entirely governed by federal policies. For some kids, school meals (breakfast and lunch) contribute over half of their calories for the day. The day-to-day decisions are in the hands of individual school districts and schools, but the parameters that govern the program and determine what can and can't be served are decided at a federal level. The USDA sets nutrition standards for school meals and even provides about one-fifth of the food served in school cafeterias. Congress determines the amount spent on each meal and oversees the USDA's administration of the program.

As it happens, Michelle Obama announced Let's Move at an extremely opportune time to influence the school lunch program, because the entire program is up for reauthorization in Congress this year. Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently proposed new federal nutrition standards for school lunches and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced his intent to implement them.

Several aspects of the school lunch program require examination and (hopefully) reform. The Obama administration should be commended for aiming to adopt the IOM's recommendations, which would increase the amount of fruits and vegetables served to students and specify that dark green and bright orange vegetables as well as legumes are served during the course of each week. (Under the current standards, fruits and vegetables are interchangeable.) The new standards also call for an increase in whole grains served and it sets a maximum amount of calories per lunch. (Current standards only specify a minimum number of calories.)

Additionally, the Obama administration seeks to reform a decades-old loophole that restricts the USDA's ability to exercise any control over the a la carte items served in cafeterias or school vending machines. With executive branch support for such a change, it's likely that Congress will act, giving the USDA the authority to regulate any food served in schools during school hours. It's shameful that federal nutrition standards over school lunch are as lax as they are, but it speaks volumes that the Obama administration is the first in a long line of administrations willing to make the necessary changes.

This is political, it's important and we can do something to change it.

Originally posted to Ellinorianne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 07:48 PM PST.

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