I just watched the second episode of Jamie Oliver's new show, Food Revolution, and I am just gobsmacked that:
1. Six year olds, presented with a variety of very common vegetables, could not correctly name a single one;
2. Children in the West Virginia town of Huntington, and who knows, perhaps across the nation, are not given forks and knives with which to eat. They eat with their fingers or a spoon.
Chef Jamie's got his work cut out for him, and it's clear that he had no idea what he was getting into. I don't think he was at all prepared for the suspicion and hostility with which the town's redneck population would greet a furriner with a funny accent who they perceive as being there to "tell them how to live their lives". This is not to say that all the locals are hostile rednecks, but there are a fair number. And to be completely fair, there are hostiles who clearly aren't rednecks, and rednecks who clearly aren't hostile. But the obstacles seem overwhelming. Many people are very set in their ways and extremely defensive about changing; and they are defensive about their food.
I can understand being defensive about my food, and about others being critical about what I eat. I understand because I spent so many years feeling that way. Why did I feel that way? Because I'm not stupid. I knew I was not eating as healthfully as I should, and it was reflected in my body. I didn't need to be told I was fat and unhealthy. I knew it. I just didn't want to accept it. And perhaps most importantly, I did not want my comfort taken away. I didn't know what would replace it.
It's not easy to make major lifestyle changes. There are reasons we get to be the way we are. But when something that is not good for us takes over our lives and informs every single decision we make, that is simply unacceptable. We are not free then; we are enslaved. And it does not have to be that way.
We do not have to accept poor health, especially when much of it is based in what we eat and how we move (or fail to move). It's a bad health decision, it's a bad financial decision, it's a bad spiritual and quality of life decision. But to change, we first have to admit that there is a problem. We have to commit to educating ourselves about nutrition and exercise, and I don't mean from commercial or even government sources. Government information on nutrition is extremely biased and influenced by lobbies. And you can't trust the people who are making money off you to tell you unbiased truth about the products they sell. Of course they are going to cast it in the best possible light, and the less scrupulous ones are going to do their best to obscure facts, or downright lie.
Each one of us has to take responsibility for our own health and education. And we have a responsibility to pass good information and habits on to the children in our lives. I don't have kids of my own, but I hope that when my nieces and nephews see how we eat and exercise, it will influence them. I hope when they stay with us and see that our pantry has no junk food, and that when the family as a whole goes to a fast food place Aunt Cindy doesn't eat, they will ask questions.
I'll be keeping an eye on Oliver's Food Revolution. I'm rooting for him. The issue of good food goes so far beyond taste; it really reaches into every aspect of life and of society. I believe that only good can come of making better health a top priority. Go, Jamie!