Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Is Badly Needed; Industry Must Stay Focused And Keep Doing Its Part

March 31, 2010

Slowly but surely, progress is being made against childhood obesity. The First Ladys Lets Move! campaign and the increased funding for school food programs are positive changes, and overall, the food industry has welcomed these initiatives and continues to play a supportive role.

Last week, Jamie Olivers Food Revolution debuted on ABC TV. The British celebrity chef has made it a mission to expose children to good food and improve their eating habits, and last weeks premiere TV show drew more than 7 million viewers. The show was engaging and uplifting, as the dynamic Oliver captivated youngsters with the wonders of nutrition. He also coerced administrators, foodservice directors and foodservice employees to go out of their way to assist him in his efforts.

The show captivated millions of viewers, and the blogosphere is buzzing with calls for change in school districts nationwide.

Jamie Oliver is the right man for this moment in our nations culinary history. For too long, health and nutrition education has been tedious, failing to engage anyone, most of all youngsters.

I hate to quote a dictator, but the late Vladimir Lenins maxim applies in this case: If you want to make an omelet, you must be willing to break a few eggs.

Olivers communicative style is engaging but also confrontational, and in his show, the foodservice workers came across as clueless about nutrition and freshness. So much that the School Nutrition Association felt compelled to issue a press release in their defense.

The dialogue in and of itself is positive.

The debate is necessary. The food industry, including the vending industry, has supported nutrition education.

And as the dialogue continues, the industry will come under more scrutiny and will face criticism.

The food industry must have thick skin as the nation struggles with the obesity problem.

It has been noted that childhood obesity threatens the well being of the nations work force, which all industries depend on for their own well being. It also creates higher health care costs, which businesses and individuals alike are forced to absorb.

The food industry has played a pioneering role in supporting nutrition education and calling for public funding for school food programs.

The National Automatic Merchandising Association has been ahead of the curve with its Fit Pick program.

Vending operators who want to know more about whats ahead in food regulations and what education tools and products they can offer their customers should be sure to attend the OneShow in Chicago next month.