Jamie Oliver’s televised Food Revolution is an American sensation. I’m totally blown away and appreciative of his passion, genuine concern, overwhelming commitment, and sacrifice beyond-the-call-of-duty to see America (and beyond) get healthy; however, I’m concerned that zeal without accurate knowledge is potentially leading vulnerable people down a dangerous path.
Yes, Jamie is getting many, especially children, to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and that is a noble task. Most certainly he’s leading a renaissance of cooking again; getting both Americans and Europeans back into their kitchens to make food from scratch instead of filling freezers with frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets. We applaud him for accomplishing that wonderful feat!
However, and a big however, just because foods are made from scratch, using fresh ingredients, are they necessarily healthy? They may be healthier than processed foods, but are they truly health promoting? There’s a big difference.
What struck me recently was watching the tears fall down Brittany’s cheeks, the obese teen from the Cabell County, West Virginia school corporation who only has five to seven more years to live due to complications from obesity. Will merely increasing fruits and vegetables in Brittany’s diet, removing flavored milk, and making food from scratch prevent her from dying an early death? Will it prevent any of us from needing dangerous drugs that have serious side effects such as insulin and diuretics?
I browsed through Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook1, and some of his recipes call for for sugar, white flour, heavy cream, butter, eggs, bacon, and cheeses. Are they truly healthy for the heart, pancreas and waistline? Will the following recipes free us from toxic hunger that propels food addiction, the root cause of obesity?
Perfect Pot Roast
Grilled Filet Mignon
Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham
Grilled Lamb Chops
Pan Fried Glazed Pork Chops
Spanish Style Grilled Steak
Baked Creamy Leeks
Braised Bacon Cabbage
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Bacon and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake (serves 4-6: 8oz cheddar cheese, 4oz parmesan cheese, sea salt, 1 c. sour cream, 1/2 head of cauliflower)
Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake (2/3 c. brown sugar, 4 eggs, flour)
Vanilla Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping (serves eight: 13 Tablespoons of butter, 24 oz of cream cheese, ¾ c. sugar, and 1 ¼ c. heavy cream)
Sponge Cake (made with 2 1/2 c. of heavy cream)
Chocolate Fruit Nut Tart
Salads are doused with oily dressings; three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon, with the addition of pepper, sea salt, mustard, and sometimes yogurt.
Among Jamie’s list of essential ingredients to have stocked in the kitchen cupboard are: olive oil, vegetable oil, all purpose flour, super fine sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, dry pasta, egg noodles, honey, maple syrup, mayonnaise; plus, ready made pie crusts and puff pastries for the freezer.
If meals are made from scratch, using fresh and even organic ingredients, at home or in the school kitchen, versus processed through a factory assembly line then they’re health promoting, right?
You be the judge.
Jamie's a great guy. I admire his bravery, passion and zeal; but is he truly saving the sinking ship, or is this just more noise adding to the confusion?
image credits: rhinestonesandtelephones.com; celebrifi.com; geography-site.co.uk
1. Oliver, Jamie (2009). Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution; New York: Hyperion Publishing