Sunday, March 28, 2010

I do have more to say about Jaime Oliver. I watched the second section of the show on Friday and because I can't stand commercials I switched over to Kitchen Nightmares during them. That was interesting because there were similar themes. Bad food. Defensive cooks. And guys with English accents trying to make it better.
I do have an issue with Jaime acting like nothing like this has ever happened in the USA. Alice Waters has been doing it for a long time. But I don't want to sound overly critical of Jaime. I only really have one issue. Not all fat people eat badly. Not all fat people are unhealthy. And people who aren't fat are not well served by bad food and can be unhealthy. I heard him say that "scrawny people" can have these issues when he was being interviewed on CNN but two sentences later he was tossing the O word around again.
My issue was amplified by another show I watched that night in which a young girl who has been athletic all of her life can't find clothes to fit. She tells a story about winning some athletic competition. She heard a visiting coach say to her coach, "man that fat girl can run."
But for most of the show I am with Jaime. I am sharing his dismay when not one child in a classroom can identify a tomato. Or a potato. Or cauliflower. I have never known a child that couldn't identify vegetables. I guess that's because I know hippies and foodies.
I share his frustration when the cafeteria ladies are not willing to give the kids knives. I share his happiness when the teachers and the principal step in to teach the kids how to use them to eat.
One of the most confusing moments in the show is when he shows a group of kids how chicken nuggets are made. The kids are grossed out, as they should be, but when he asks if they want to eat them when he's done making them they say yes. When he does the same demo in England the kids say no. When he asks the USA kids why they'll eat these things that they know are gross they say they're hungry.
I'm really not sure what to make of this. Is it about instant gratification? Is it about such a lowered expectation about food that anything will do? I have always believed that if people know what's in the bad stuff and taste the good stuff they'll make the switch easily. But apparently I'm wrong.
I get the project and it is good. I want kids to know what a vegetable looks like and tastes like and I even want them to feel like they can participate in making their own meals. I want them to have that agency.
In most of the group scenes the kids don't look particularly fat. I'm not going to argue about people being fatter. I just know there have always been fat people and there will always be fat people. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

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