A Hamburger Today
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (Ep. 6): 'The Finale'
It's been a rough few months for Jamie Oliver! On his quest to change the eating habits of people in Huntington, West Virginia, he's encountered opposition from parents, students, lunch ladies, talk show hosts, and on last night's finale, one very difficult to drive vehicle.
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]
With his time in West Virginia coming to an end, Jamie decided to throw a big food festival as a way of saying "thank you" to the people of Huntington. But not so fast! On his way to the party, he blatantly ran a red light and got pulled over by an observant cop.
"This thing's got a life of its own," Jamie nervously explained, giving the gas pedal a dirty look out of the corner of his eye. "I don't normally go through red lights." Sure, buddy. And Paula Deen doesn't normally use butter.
The officer, who clearly didn't want to go through life with the stigma of being "the cop who ticketed that famous British guy," let Jamie off the hook without so much as a verbal warning. What a lucky guy. Had it been me, I probably would have gotten a $600 fine and a nasty letter from my insurance company. But then again, I'm not famous, and there aren't gigantic cameras strapped to the passenger seat of my car, so them's the breaks!
Let's recap. What have we all learned from this? Next time you get pulled over in Huntington, fake a British accent. And for the love of God, blame the car. ALWAYS BLAME THE CAR.
The food festival was a huge success. Jamie got great news from Doug Sheils, who announced his hospital, Cabell Huntington Hospital, would be donating $130,000 to make the Food Revolution sustainable once Jamie left. And in case that wasn't exciting enough, Rascal Flatts showed up to perform their hit single "My Wish." At the end of the day, I suppose nothing says, "Put down that chicken nugget and back away slowly" like a tear-jerking country song.
The people of Huntington really seemed like they were embracing all of these positive changes, and for a brief moment, it really felt like Jamie pulled the whole thing off. Was Jamie excited? Yes. Yes he was.
Jamie went back home to England, but problems with the program led him back to Huntington less than three months later. Schools were losing money because children were bringing bagged lunches instead of paying for items from Jamie's lunch menu.
Even worse, Rhonda, the director of food services, wanted to institute "processed food Fridays" to get rid of a surplus of frozen food taking up space in her freezers.
Cut to a scene of Jamie wandering around the cafeteria at Central City Elementary School, justifiably shaking his head in disgust at the lunches some of the students brought from home. How bad was it? I'll put it to you this way: One little girl had nothing in her bag but jelly beans and two types of potato chips! Come on, now. That's Guy Fieri's bedtime snack, not lunch for a five-year-old.
Jamie had to act fast to keep the Food Revolution going, so he asked his new BFF Alice and her crew of lunch ladies to drive around town with him and help inspire the cafeteria workers at other schools. And this is where I learned something new about Jamie Oliver: The man has a heart of gold, but he's a horrible, horrible driver.
First, he forgot to push the clutch in while pulling out of the driveway, which caused the car to jerk back and forth more than Lady Gaga in her last video. Then, he jumped the curb in a parking lot for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Get it together, Jamie! The girls were there to help support your cause, not to field test a new motion sickness pill.
Next, Jamie held a culinary boot camp in an attempt to coordinate the efforts of Huntington's parents, teachers, and cafeteria crews. Jamie realized the Food Revolution would fail if the parents weren't held to the same basic nutritional guidelines that the schools were held to. With the cameras rolling, many of the parents expressed disgust at "processed food Fridays" and vowed to provide their children with healthier lunches. But will their sentiments remain the same once the cameras are off and Jamie's out of town? Only time will tell.
For now, only one thing is certain: Our government has to evolve and learn how to meet the needs of communities that want change, or every pioneering town will find itself embroiled in the red tape and bureaucracy that hampered the success of Jamie's project in Huntington.
So how do you end an enlightening six-part Ryan Seacrest-produced reality television series about healthier eating in a small Appalachian city? Why, with a photo montage set to a depressing Rascal Flatts song, of course!
In the last few moments of the show, we were reminded of the lives Jamie touched, the friends he made, and the flavored milk he despised. We bared witness to the battles he fought, the challenges he overcame, and the nuggets he discarded. And he did it all (well, most of it, anyway) with a smile.
If you want to join the revolution and help make a difference, you can go to jamieoliver.com and sign Jamie's petition to fight childhood obesity in America.
And here's an idea: Maybe for his next show, Jamie can launch a Pollution Revolution and trade in that nasty old gas guzzler he's been driving around in all year for a more fuel efficient hybrid. Just a thought, brother.