Locals review "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution"
"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" focuses on Oliver's efforts in Huntington in 2009 to promote healthier eating habits by encouraging food preparation from fresh ingredients. Those efforts were focused on local schools, families and a kitchen to teach people how to cook. Each week, we will have local residents weigh in on the episodes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Amy Gannon is a registered dietitian who lives and practices in Charleston. She earned an undergraduate degree in human nutrition and foods from West Virginia University and completed a master’s degree and dietetic internship at Marshall University. In 2005, she earned a Certificate of Training in Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. She has been a consultant dietitian for the HealthyKids Weight Management Program at Charleston Area Medical Center for five years. She has experience in clinical dietetics, sales, community nutrition and higher education. She is currently serving as president of the W.Va. Dietetic Association and works as a youth specialist for WVU Extension Service- Family Nutrition Programs. In addition, Gannon is an adjunct professor for the Marshall University School of Medicine and owns a private consultative nutrition practice in Charleston.

What was the second episode’s theme?
Overcoming personal and systematic challenge. The personal challenge refers to the familial changes that Jamie helped ignite. Although he gave the Edwards' family many tools to enact change, they still struggled to eat the foods that he purchased to prepare the new recipes. The systematic challenges refer to the multiple barriers that Jamie and the school personnel face on so many levels. Something as simple as using knives and forks instead of spoons creates controversy.

What wasn’t addressed?

Jamie worked hard to address many issues with the Edwards' family - providing cooking tips, healthy foods, recipes, one-on-one cooking demos, etc. However, even with all of this help, they continued to struggle with changing their eating habits. I was glad the children were able to visit with Dr. Bailes to address medical issues, but they need help in many other areas as well. I wish the producers of the show would have chosen to work with other health professionals, (counselors, psychologists, dietitians and exercise physiologists) to show that it often takes a "village" to help a family make permanent changes.

How were Huntington/ the school system portrayed?

Huntington was basically portrayed in a positive manner. Again, the beauty of the city was noted. The people of our region were portrayed as being resistant to change, however.
There were both positive and negative aspects displayed with the school system. The cooks, principal and food service director were shown in a more positive light this time and their desire to do the best thing for the children came through.
I was really astonished by the food environment of the cafeteria. The fact that the children are not normally provided with knives and forks is telling. The children obviously ate better when the staff walked around the cafeteria and encouraged them to try to food and showed them how to use the "new" utensils. This is a reflection of our society-at-large. As a society, we put meal time last. We find time to do just about everything (sports, social activities, etc), but cook a healthy meal. The school, like society, needs to bring back the importance of meal time. Giving meals the time they deserve and making meals an important part of the school's curriculum (by encouraging children to try foods, helping children cut foods, talking about what is served for lunch during classroom time), will bring about a more positive food environment.

Any progress made?

Yes, progress was made. The Edwards' family had a medical work up to rule out diabetes and had a refrigerator stocked with fresh produce. The school children tried new foods and liked them. The school staff began to see meal time differently and appreciate the effort of spending time with children while they eat.

Scripted vs. Impromptu?
Since this is a television show, obviously much of the episode is scripted- such as Jamie running in the pea costume. Although Jamie's confessional appears to be ad lib, I believe much of it is most likely scripted. I feel that most of the work that Jamie does in the school, and the one-on-one work with the family, is basically impromptu. It would be difficult to follow a script and cook a meal for over 400 children. Likewise, it would be difficult to get all of the children in the cafeteria to follow a script. Watching the children accept and enjoy nutrient rich foods is heartwarming and real.