Having only seen the first two episodes of Jaime Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” on ABC, this writer thought that the Slow Food Movement might actually be making a little progress, but then other things came up. “The Naked Chef,” as he likes to be called, is a lover of food in its best and simplest forms (thus the appellatian), decided to do an expose on how processed foods have taken over American schools, and visited an Appalachian school district to see if he could help them improve things. Results were mixed, and so were reactions, but he seemed to be doing an amazing thing.
So tonight, when the Giants went to commercial, the author was delighted to see that “Food Revolution” Season 2, was starting tonight. Amazed that he was taking on LA Unified School District, a land known as the origin of fast food and endless freeways, the DVR was set with the result that the episode was replayed several times. Sadly, doing so makes 8:00pm next Tuesday seem too far away.
As a writer beginning to truly investigate the sources of our food, the disparity between methods is frightening. Jamie comments on a meat filler called “pink slime,” saying “Can you imagine how happy an accountant is” at the prospect of being allowed to use animal waste as a filler in ground beef? This is something that echoes Charlie Thieriot’s comments on our visit to Llano Seco, when Charles said, “when food turns into a commodity, it isn’t about nutrition.” The author replied, “No, its about the money.”
A brief rundown on “pink slime:” Apparently the U.S.D.A approved the use of fatty slaughterhouse “external” trimmings, what one site calls the highly-bacteria-laden “trimmings from the slaughterhouse floor,” that had once been acceptable only for dog food and glue. Now, as filler in beef, if it first treated with ammonia, and ground beef is now allowed to contain 15% of this “pink slime.” Mr. Oliver says that this illustrates that the US food industry has “no respect for the food, or people, or children,” and that the U.S.D.A is deliberately flaunting its disregard for health by allowing it in our food, without including it in the labeling.
And this stuff is in up to 70% of the US beef supply? It isn’t any wonder that Oliver then takes on “Fast Food.” Since “the biggest killer in America right now is diet-related disease,” he wonders if the owner of a small drive through, “Patra” would be willing to consider moving in a more healthy direction. Sadly, the owner, Dino, refuses to budge on the beef, though he acknowledges the superior quality, because of cost, and then when it comes to his milk shakes, refuses to change the ingredients because of “quality.” Dino then flat out says he would not serve his family at home the food he serves at the drive-thru.
Between the LA USD superintendent and the California School Nutrition Association, Jamie hits a wall. The CSNA literally has lobbyists from MilkPEP pushing seminars on sugar-laden “flavored milk,” when flavored milks actually contain more sugar PER OUNCE than ‘fizzy-pop,” as Jaime like’s to call it. He then performs an amazing demonstration illustrating the weekly consumption of sugar in LA Unified, simply through flavored milk.
He goes to this extent to try and make an impression, because Superintendent Ramon Cortinez flat out stonewalls him, despite repeated petitions and Jaime’s attendance at a board member’s meeting. The lead in to next weeks episode leaves open the opportunity for Jaime to actually be arrested if he tries to even enter an LA Unified School, so the author is making sure the DVR is set to KRCR-7 in the North State (KGO-7 in the Bay Area) to see whether Jaime ends up being exported by ICE for his noble work.
Wondering what will become of food in schools, one can’t help but be incredibly grateful for people like those at Lodestar, Chaffin Family Orchards, and Llano Seco. We live in a wonderful hub of agricultural activity, and are blessed with many alternatives. One must consider though, would Chico Unified, Martinez, or SFUSD be as rigid as LA when it comes to the health and well-being of our kids? At least PV has IHOST to give them a start on healthy foods.