That episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution where he showed kids all the nastiness that goes into chicken nuggets—and they wanted to eat them anyway? As upsetting as it was, it did save me the bother of showing it to my nugget-inhaling son, as it will probably achieve the same (opposite of intended) result.
I don’t for a moment doubt Jamie Oliver’s good intentions in this food crusade of his. But he is a wealthy celebrity chef, and he will get over it. He is probably already home in Britain, regaling his like-minded friends with tales of the benighted colonials over some delightful meal he’s just whipped up, along with a number of impeccably complementary bottles of tasty plonk.
Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that speaking out about the garbage served to kids in schools can have career-threatening consequences. From La Vida Locavore, here is an excerpt from the woeful saga of what happened to a school teacher who became concerned about what her students were eating. (Writing in haste today, so apologies for the extensive cut-and-pastiness).
Mendy Heaps, a stellar English teacher for years, had never given much thought to the food her seventh-graders were eating. Then her husband, after years of eating junk food, was diagnosed with cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure and suddenly the french fries, pizza and ice cream being served in the cafeteria at rural Elizabeth Middle School outside Denver, Col., took on a whole new meaning.
Heaps was roused to action. She started teaching nutrition in her language arts classes. She bombarded colleagues, administrators and the local school board with e-mails and news clippings urging them to overhaul the school menu. She even took up selling fresh fruits and healthy snacks to the students on her own, wheeling alternative foods from classroom to classroom on a makeshift “fruit cart,” doling out apples for a quarter.
Finally, the school’s principal, Robert McMullen, could abide Heaps’ food crusade no longer. Under threat of being fired, Heaps says she was forced to sign a personnel memorandum agreeing to cease and desist. She was ordered to undergo a kind of cafeteria re-education program, wherein she was told to meet with the school’s food services director, spend part of each day on lunch duty recording what foods the students ate, and compile data showing the potential economic impact of removing from the menu the “grab and go” foods Heaps found so objectionable. … The case of Mendy Heaps is a stark reminder that at least one voice is largely missing from the debate over school food that’s getting so much attention lately: the voice of teachers. Teachers see what kids eat every day. They have opinions about the the food and how it impacts children’s health and school performance. Yet they are almost universally silent.
… “When I got the memo, everyone became afraid,” said Heaps. “If I tried to talk about the memo, no one wanted to listen. I got a little support from a couple of teachers, but not very much. Everyone wanted to forget about it and they wanted me to forget about it too…The only thing I still do is write letters and try to get someone interested! I’m working on one for Michelle Obama right now.”