21 April 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

At least he can say his hearts in the right place... Season 2 of Jamie's Food Revolution in America is interesting, but does he have to be such a moppet?

My main issues with him:

-He's lost all his business sense. He got into a big argument with a diner owner over replacing 1.75/lb ground beef with 3.90/lb ground beef, and mislabeling yogurt smoothies as milkshakes. While his style of food may taste good (the diner owner and customers agreed), Jamie needs to realize there is a time and place for it. I also don't like his fast and loose ethics and general manner of forcing the changes.

-He leads schools to failure. In his first experiment with school lunches in England, he provoked a general revolt. The kids refused to eat the food, the lunch ladies were verging on striking because of 'overwork', and he was way way over budget. When he revisited the school, his lunch program was still poorly received and was in dire financial straights because of his extravagances and decision to close the schools profit center snack shop.

-Cheap scaremongering. The teaser on his first show shows him telling kids that they make ice cream out of beavers, and put ammonia into beef. Regarding beavers, an extract of beaver musk is used as a small component of some vanilla and raspberry flavorings. So what, we use animal derived ingredients in our food all the time, from animal fats, and animal broths, to extracts like cochineal and cà cuống. If you're telling people to tuck into a free range hamburger, you shouldn't be upset if your dessert has a little teeny tiny free range beaver in it. I just don't get it
Regarding the ammonia issue, the gaseous ammonia treatment for beef trim is essentially no different from the carcass rinses used to sanitize them after gutting and splitting. Further he ignores the all the naturally occurring ammonia in every day foods, ammonia production in the body, and its widespread use in food. Even oreo style cookies depend on ammonia gas for their unique texture.

-I don't like condescension. I don't think anyone does.

Will you still watch it?

Yup. I think improving school lunches is a good thing. And the show is pretty entertaining in its own right. I think he's going it about it in a bad way. I'd start by kick out these bad purchasing decisions where they are using microwave meals to feed kids, and start seeing what I can make in house with regular ingredients.

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