Jamie's American Food RevolutionThu 09 Sep 2010
Story by Matthew Robinson
Having tackled the state of British school food, as well as home cooking, now Jamie Oliver’s off to the US to try to start a food revolution there.
In his new six-part series, which has just won an Emmy Award after being shown to great acclaim in the US earlier this year, the chef heads to Huntington, West Virginia – dubbed ‘America’s unhealthiest city’. The first episode airs tonight at 10PM on Channel 4 in the UK.
He’s got his work cut out. Half the adults in Huntington are obese, levels of heart disease and diabetes are the highest in the country and, for the first time, children are likely to live shorter lives than their parents.
Jamie wants to inspire people to change the way America eats at home, in schools and in the workplace. He hopes to make Huntington a healthier city and start a chain reaction of positive change across the country.
But will the straight-talking tactics that worked with British school meals, and in the Yorkshire town of Rotherham, succeed in a country with a very different food culture?
He finds schools serving pizza for breakfast, junk food for lunch and sugar-filled flavoured milk, while nutritional guidelines count French fries as a ‘vegetable’ and many kids can’t identify common fruit and veg or use cutlery.
And, from the start, Jamie’s up against fierce opposition from local people. Rod, a radio DJ, tells the chef: “We don’t want to sit around and eat lettuce all day” and demands to know: “Who made you the King?”
Meanwhile Jamie’s locked in a battle of wills with Alice, a school dinner lady who sees nothing wrong with the food they serve the children and can only see problems in cooking the chef’s fresh food from scratch.
But he finds an ally in Pastor Steve, who’s tired of burying local people before their time. And he opens a kitchen where people can learn to cook for free.
Jamie is also tackling home cooking and he meets Stacie Edwards, who’s feeding her four kids fatty junk food that she knows will kill them. Jamie buries the family’s deep-fat fryer in the yard and gives them healthy recipes to cook, but he knows that sticking to them will be the challenge.
As Jamie fights to make Huntington a healthier place he’s reduced to tears of despair and frustration. But slowly his message starts to get across and rise above the dissenters.
Can he really make a difference against all the odds and start an American food revolution?
Jamie’s American Food Revolution is a co-production between Fresh One Productions and Ryan Seacrest Productions.
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