Jamie Oliver’s war against unhealthy school meals rages on. After winning an Emmy for his first US series, Jamie’s Food Revolution, the 35-year-old chef is taking his healthy eating message to Los Angeles for a second series, screening on Channel 4 this week (Tuesday, 10pm).
TV&Satellite Week magazine cornered Jamie by the cooker and got him to tell us how he tried to wrestle burgers and shakes away from LA schoolkids.
The LA school district banned me from their schools even before I even arrived… But it caused massive outrage – parents, kids, even teachers and principals were furious. So I put out the word that I would open my own kitchen in LA instead and asked people to bring their school dinners to me.
I was bombarded by people wanting change… When the school district said you can’t come in, we’re doing fine, there were tens of thousands of people saying no, we’re not doing fine.
The parents of America have got to start giving a s**t about what they feed kids… LA schoolkids eat 57 tons of white sugar every week. And there’s this stuff called pink slime, basically beef trimmings washed with ammonia – disgusting! – that goes into burgers and mince. People had no idea.
I also took over a drive-thru… The guy was making a 600-calorie strawberry milkshake with no strawberries in it. I showed him how to make one that was 200 calories with real strawberries in it. It is possible to make fast food healthier.
To me, this isn’t a job, it’s a duty… Telling the truth and shouting out your opinion gets you into a lot of trouble, but this is a bad time for American health and I believe that parents and kids want change.
The food revolution continues even when the cameras leave… We’ve got a Food Revolution truck doing shows and cooking demos in LA, and there’s a new Superintendent of Schools who’s agreed to ban flavoured milk from schools from September. It has more sugar per fluid ounce than a can of cola, so that’s a good first step.
My kids loved living in LA for a few months… They had a lot of fun and the school system was excellent, apart from some of the food, obviously. But it’s great to be home again.
I was amazed by the response to Jamie’s Dream School… I read a lot of positive comments from teachers, which was great because I didn’t want them to think the series was attacking them in any way. I think the series did what it set out to do, which was to open up the debate about how to reach those young people who don’t succeed at school.