Jamie Oliver: I’m Now Working with Los Angeles Schools -- Just Not on Camera
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Will only some of the Revolution be televised? Jamie Oliver didn't get into Los Angeles school cafeterias for the second season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution like he wanted, but it now looks like the British chef and the L.A. Unified School District are on their way to a truce!
It just may not happen in front of the cameras.
Jamie Oliver to Los Angeles schools: Let me in!
It's been widely reported that Oliver has spent the last several months trying — without success — to work with L.A. county on improving its school lunch program the same way he did for Huntington, W. Va,. during the first season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The show's second season premiere (Tuesday at 8/7c on ABC) features a frustrated Oliver back in January, trying to find a way in with LAUSD board members, who continued to refuse him and his camera crew access to schools throughout the end of production, which wrapped last month.
Now, both sides appear ready to compromise. On Thursday, an LAUSD spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that they had, in fact, extended an invitation to Oliver to work with its menu committee provided he doesn't bring the cameras. Asked whether Oliver would agreed to work with the district under their conditions, his rep told TVGuide.com on Monday, "Jamie and producers of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution have had and continue to have an active dialogue with LAUSD. The LAUSD would not allow filming in schools but Jamie is working with them off-camera; the dialogue is ongoing." The chef has also planned a return visit to Los Angeles later this month to shoot additional material.
L.A. Unified School District says no to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Oliver, meanwhile, did his very best to provoke change and encourage healthy eating outside L.A.'s schools. In the season's first episode alone, he opened up a cooking school in Westwood (where concerned parents brought in heaps of the sorry-looking lunches served to their kids), demonstrated how much extra sugar kids consume by drinking flavored milk (more than a school bus-full!), and attempted to reform the not-so-fresh menu at L.A.'s Patras Charbroiled Burgers.
Here's how Oliver describes getting the first episode done:
When you ran into trouble with the LAUSD in January, did you ever consider shooting Season 2 in a city other than L.A.? Why was sticking with Los Angeles important?
Jamie Oliver: Transparency for any government enterprise is important, and filming the show taught me how important the work of the Food Revolution is to the rest of the country. Telling the L.A. story became the Food Revolution.
In the first episode, you and the owner of Patras Charbroiled Burgers bump heads over the importance of producing healthier fast food. He wouldn't even let you put less ice cream into the milkshakes. Ultimately, his pushback was all about dollars and cents — your hamburger, while fresh and tastier, would cost him more to produce. Is it always more expensive to eat healthier? Did you find a work-around?
Oliver: Fast food is an important piece of the American food culture. If we could change fast food, we could really impact people's lives immediately. It's not more expensive to eat healthier and there are absolutely places that you need to invest in, like meat that you know where it's come from and how it's been taken care of from the farm to the slaughterhouse. You can buy a higher-quality product and use a smaller portion of it. And fill up the rest of the plate with salads or vegetables.
We also see you attend the California School Nutrition Association seminar, incredibly titled, "Keeping Flavored Milk from Dropping Out of Schools." It seems like the crusade against flavored milk will always be a priority for you. Is it a more pervasive food problem than others?
Oliver: Added sugar is a huge problem for kids that no one wants to pay attention to. I filled up an entire school bus with sugar to prove a point and hardly anyone came to see it. I am hoping when the Food Revolution is broadcast the light bulb will go on and parents will see that removing the extra sugar from their kids' diets is an easy way to make a huge positive impact on their health.
When we spoke in January, you said that even if you couldn't get into schools, the journey trying to would still be fruitful for viewers. Can you talk about some of the things you've done to get around not getting into cafeterias? What else can we expect to see this season?
Oliver: Being banned from the schools led me to teach in the classrooms. I met wonderful students and teachers who were hungry for food knowledge and very directly touched by obesity-related illnesses. Entire families suffered from diabetes. It was shocking and sad, but great to see the information I shared got the kids excited about a brighter future.
Check out the first nine minutes of the Season 2 premiere: