Activist TV: Jamie Oliver Continues His ‘Food Revolution’

Jamie Oliver (ABC)

Jamie Oliver (ABC)

With much of reality television focused on negativity and rewarding the worst society has to offer, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” seeks to change that paradigm. Later this season, the Emmy-winning series returns to ABC for a second season with six new episodes.

“You’ve got the reality shows [which] at the very beginning [were] a little bit like the drug adverts that are going to help you be healthier,” Oliver, celebrity chef, best-selling author, and food activist, told us on the set of his Westwood, Calif. kitchen on Wednesday. “Then they spend half the time telling you all the downsides. Some of these shows seem to be set up for entertainment purposes. I don’t do that stuff.”

Oliver added, “there’s not a show like that in the States. If you want to name it anything, it’s activist TV. It’s educating and engaging and getting people to have an opinion and consume differently,” he adds. “‘Food Revolution’ is so many things. It’s about inspiring people, trying to get people to make their opinion count. It’s about getting people to consume different, shop for groceries different, cook differently.”

Oliver made a point to clarify it’s not about taking away our beloved burgers and pizza, but it’s about making healthier choices for the sale of our children’s health. “I want you to have a burger. I want you to have a pizza. I just don’t want you to have to eat some pizza with some salami full of donkey bullocks. The biggest killer in this country is food-related disease – not murder, not crime. It’s diabetes, heart disease, diet-related disease. Our health care systems cannot afford it. In the current climate, I just believe we’re not doing enough.”

But like the first season in Huntington, West Virginia, it’s mostly about working with the school system to improve what they are feeding the kids. One problem, production-wise for Oliver and ABC, is that they are on day two of production and the Los Angeles Unified School District won’t let him in to take a look at what they’re putting in the mouths of 800,000 kids a day. That’s not only a big problem for Oliver’s mission, but also for the show itself.

“If I had a magic wand, you go into the L.A. School District and you go, ‘Oh wow, that’s really good what you’re doing there. What are you struggling with? How can I help you with that?’ But they won’t let me in,” he said. “Without being pretentious, ‘Food Revolution’ is the biggest food show on TV. It’s got the biggest eyes and ears watching it. So I kind of feel that I should be granted permission to go in and have a look at what they’re doing. The fact that I’m shut out is offensive to me. They don’t want us in for the drama, but they just created their own drama. I can’t broadcast anything that is not true.”

Nevertheless, the show must go on, and likely we’ll see the school system come around through the course of shooting, making for good clean drama for the show and helping Oliver accomplish his goals. “I’m a bit like an eel. Slippery,” he joked. “Oh I can’t get in the L.A. school system, that won’t stop me. I have a million plan B’s and I can cover enough of the story to tell a lot of the truth to the parents, through the kitchen demonstrations I’m doing and the mobile truck where we can do 1,000 demonstrations.”

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What do you think of Jamie’s mission? Will you tune in? Do we need more shows on the good side of reality?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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