Friday, April 30, 2010

Who Says....

New York City is all hot dog stands. Fruit stands are all around the city in springtime.

Having a soy cappuccino, $3.75, at Macaron Cafe while flipping through their French magazine collection can't be considered an educational outing in my studies of the language?

You should be fraught with worry over the state of your thighs, stomach, or other part of your body if you will be pool-side, lake-side, or beach-side in a month or two.

When have you EVER heard a man utter, "Sorry, I can't eat that cookie. Swimsuit season is almost here, you know!" I've heard the dreaded swimsuit comment three times in one week from women.

You can't be a vegetarian or vegan and still adore food films like Babette's Feast, Julie & Julia and the woman herself, Julia Child. My Life in France was with me all over Italy. I found her enthusiasm for life contagious, and her love story with Paul endearing. How many romances survive that long?

I could so relate in Julie & Julia when Julia (a la Meryl Streep) declared, "All I think about all day is food and then I dream about it all night."

You can't support Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, just because he is not promoting veganism or vegetarianism. I've been disappointed at the animal rights community's utter silence about this show, and their refusal to acknowledge his ground-breaking shows on factory farmed chickens and pigs in the UK.

I think of Natalie Merchant's observation in her Leave Your Sleep liner notes about the "timeless truth that we fail to understand the entirety of anything because of our limited perspective." Many vegans only seem to want to hear or discuss people promoting vegan only. That's a mistake, in my opinion.

We need a massive shift in our food culture, and Jamie Oliver promotes many of the same ideals. More organics. More local food. More cooking from scratch as often as possible. For many, learning how to cook. Revamping a broken school food system. Improving brown bagged lunches. I couldn't agree more when he said in his closing show that if parents fed children the junk he witnessed every day, it's child abuse.

"You can have anything that you want in food, but just in moderation," he assures us. Moderation is one of my favorite words. I tire of the food police declaring you shouldn't have any sugar, white pasta, and such ever. He's not saying that either.

Sign Jamie's petition, which simply declares, "I support the Food Revolution. America's kids need better food at school and better health prospects. We need to keep cooking skills alive."


ConsciouslyFrugal said...

I just wrote a long, rambling comment, but I think I'll save it for an article I'm writing. Just...UG. Comparing a corn dog to being beaten? Seriously? KJFALSKDFJA!!! ARG!!!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I watched the series in its entirety and believe in what he's doing. I don't know how much you've seen (if any). I know you're not a fan, from what I've gathered, because of perceived weight-bashing (although many of the school kids he was cooking for didn't appear to have a weight problem). There are loads of unhealthy thin people.

There are many forms of abuse (we can abuse, for example, our own bodies through smoking, overuse of alcohol, what we eat, etc.) I definitely don't think he or I would compare it to beating (that would be outlandish).

The life expectancy facts are alarming that children today will not live as long as their parents, despite all the medical advances. Willingly inflicting children with diseases like diabetes is inexcusable. They cannot food shop and cook for themselves.

I would recommend watching the show online and understanding the context. You're welcome to write your article, but that would be like reviewing a CD you haven't heard and just basing it on someone else's review.

I'm happy to agree to disagree. The whole point of this is to promote dialogue. He said people should be getting angry, I just wish they would direct it at other sources, not at him.

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

I've seen clips, but have had to shut it off because of the rage factor (mine, not his, of course). The whole article isn't about him, but he will have a line or two dedicated to him. And yes, I'll definitely watch a whole episode, albeit in parts and maybe with the help of some Valium. ha!

I used to work for the American Diabetes Association, so I know all about diabetes, life expectancies, etc. And lawd knows I'm in favor of sane food systems and kicking gross crap out of schools. I'm not in any way opposed to *what* he's trying to do, but the way in which he's going about it makes me want to drop kick his sorry ass off a cliff.

My concern is that the way in which people are promoting sane food systems, etc., is going to end up ultimately hurting the movement, making it nothing more than the latest and greatest diet fad which will result in absolutely no systemic or substantive change. I think he is contributing to that diet fad crap. Alice Waters and Jamie Oliver have the same food philosophy, but they go about it in a dramatically different fashion. One is respectful, the

Wait, that didn't seem as much of an exchange as me just complaining. Isn't it nice to have blog fans? :P

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I don't see the diet fad aspect. What he's promoting is a lifestyle change (teaching cooking skills; less processed food and unrecognizable ingredients). I'm not a believer in 'diets' (which are just a lucrative industry to me), but I do believe in the power of lifestyle changes.

He was able to turn around his most vocal critics (radio dj Rod, and Alice, the school lunch lady) once they saw his intentions. He also mentioned the abuse line when he returned to the school after he left and was so dispirited at what was in all the brown bags (candy, blue Jell-o, Lunchables). The parents are purchasing the contents of and packing those bags, not the kids. If you look up the ingredients of Lunchables on Kraft Foods' web site, it's horrifying.

I'm happy to have passionate, thoughtful readers who think as much about these issues as I do, and don't expect us to agree on everything. Ultimately, it's not about him. Our system needs a food revolution period.

MaddyG said...

I guess I'm failing to see what the 'problem' is with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It seems to me that he has opened some eyes, brought attention to a serious issue, and has the best intentions. Am I too biased here?
The anger directed at Jamie (on the show) seems to be born from a fear of judgement and fear of change. Our culture is totally addicted to the unhealthiest choices...the food we consume, and Consumerism in general.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Anyone who hasn't seen the entire series and is so critical proves Ms. Merchant's quote: "we fail to understand the entirety of anything because of our limited perspective."

My boyfriend has been a professional chef his entire career, everywhere from fine French dining to working with inner city youth and trying to revamp their food, and is not surprised. He says people are so reluctant to change. I think it's a bit of hate the messenger.

I would have been happy to have Jamie Oliver come to New Jersey to get fresh, cooked from scratch lunches in schools, get free cooking lessons (I'd use Trader Joe’s beef-less strips in his stir fries) and motivate New Jerseyans to support their local farms as much as they do their malls. We're the "Garden State" but it's more like the “Shop Till You Drop State.” As for Huntington looking bad in the media, you can't look much worse than New Jersey (i.e., Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Real Housewives of NJ).

I can only speak for myself, but every time I watched Jamie's show, I would always get excited about cooking more (which can be hard sometimes after a long day of commuting/working). I will continue to support the Food Revolution.

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

"Anyone who hasn't seen the entire series and is so critical proves Ms. Merchant's quote: "we fail to understand the entirety of anything because of our limited perspective."'

Would you say the same thing of a black person who refused to watch a show where a white person was doing a bit in black face? Do the "intentions" of n!gger jokes make the jokes any less offensive?

Honestly, I find your comment patronizing, and I am utterly baffled by the fact that people are so resistant to hearing a fat person say--this. is. offensive. simply because the rest of what he's saying fits in with a particularly world view. I mean, couldn't that make your Merchant quote above apply to you as well?

The bigotry I experience as a fat person is real. When I say something is offensive to me as a fat person, I can assure you--it. is. offensive. That doesn't mean I don't think Oliver's other points aren't positive. One doesn't negate the other. However, it is possible to talk about all the great things about food, cooking, caring for children, etc. without being a bigot. He chooses to be a bigot. Ya gotta ask--why?

When it comes to how he deals with fat people (yes, I've watched a whole program now, but that in no way validates my opinions anymore than when I'd just seen offensive segments) Jamie Oliver is an offensive jackass.

I think people refuse to see this because bigotry against fat people is normalized and even encouraged, because people feel justified that the rationale for marginalizing this segment of the population is acceptable. Marginalization is wrong. Bigotry is wrong, even if the medical and diet industry tells you it's ok. When someone from a marginalized segment of the population says, "This is offensive to me," it's genuine. Why is that so baffling and difficult to comprehend?

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I wouldn't apply the quote to myself, only because you haven't given specific examples of what he's done other than you didn't like his TED speech and he's joined the anti-fat folks brigade. I'm not going to discount all of his efforts because some may not like his style. This is not about body image, it's about health. I see nothing wrong with talking about the health risks of obesity.

Many of the people on the show were receptive and welcomed the life skills (i.e., basic cooking techniques) he was teaching. I'm more offended by Jenny Craig and the like, which peddles over-processed frozen foods which will do nothing to change long term habits.

I used the Merchant quote in my original post overall directed at the veg community, who is often not receptive to people unless they agree with every single thing they say. The same can be said here. I don't agree with everything he says either (I don't think meat is needed so often). But I believe in much of what he promotes.

One thing we can agree on: we'll never agree on Jamie Oliver. But I'm open to hearing other points of view and a lively debate.