In Season 1 of Food Revolution, Jamie had to educate parents who were feeding their children crap. Season 2 begins with Jamie announcing he has been banned by the LA School District and will not be allowed into any school in the area. And it quickly becomes clear that here in Los Angeles, parents are his primary allies.
Without a school to tackle, Jamie takes to the airwaves (Producer Ryan Seacrest’s radio show!) to call parents to arms—and to his breathtakingly gorgeous community kitchen. When they come, he says, they should bring along some food from their children’s school lunches.
Predictably, Jamie was none too impressed with the bounty.
After deconstructing the children’s lunches, which he roundly pronounced disgusting, with the exception of two kids with apples (who turned out to be homeschooled) it was time for a few minutes of heartstring-pulling back and forth with parents:
“My son used to eat all the good foods we have at home until he went to school.”
“Imagine having airplane food every day… like your kids”
Going for the jugular, he asked parents to remember their “beautiful, unspoiled babies” and ask if they really wanted their children eating this junk from age 4 to 18. After that nugget, Jamie decided to teach these parents and their kids a little lesson.
The lesson was about Pink Slime.
Pink Slime is a truly disgusting substance made from fatty slaughterhouse trimmings. This beef waste product was formerly used only for pet food. But thanks to a Bush era Meat Lobbyists victory, these un-sellable hunks of cow fat with meat on them are now wrung out in a centrifuge, washed with an ammonia solution to kill any pathogens, drained, minced and turned into something that looks a lot like ground beef. The resulting product is added to the majority of the country’s ground beef, And the U.S.D.A. allows up to 15% of pink slime in 70% of ground beef products. WITHOUT LABELING. They don’t even have to disclose the (toxic) ammonia, some of which of is definitely absorbed into the product, because the U.S.D.A doesn’t make companies list chemicals used in processing. YUM. Meat byproducts marinated in poison. My kids’ favorite!
Jamie’s point here: you have no idea what your kids are eating when they eat school lunches. But if you did know, you probably wouldn’t like it. The parents that showed up for Jamie’s lectures were clearly horrified by the information he conveyed. But then, it seemed like he was probably preaching to the converted. There was a fairly clear distinction between these parents (caring, engaged, even hip) and the other parents that hovered around the margins, attending conferences to fight to keep flavored milk in schools, eating at fast food joints, and just generally being Part of the Problem.
I find the show’s writing a bit ridiculous, and Jamie’s antics sometimes disturbingly wasteful—knowing the environmental effects of white sugar processing, the idea of pouring 57 tons of sugar onto a parking lot is pretty irresponsible. I get that he’s trying to make a BIG gesture. But could he make one that’s actually consistent with the values of the Food Revolution he’s trying to instigate?