As with his School Dinners campaign, Oliver’s attempting to change the eating habits of those who are just too working class to work out how an oven works.
He’s already befriended that old ogre who forced burgers on her children through the school fence in School Dinners, but having discovered that she’s not really cut out for TV, he’s got back up in the form of a young Mum who gave kebab meat to her children every night (with a side plate of fries with Kraft cheese slices) before meeting JO in episode one. She’s onside primarily to give the show a ‘heart’ which is a televisual bit of jargon meaning ‘time to fade in Snow Patrol really clumsily’.
So they swear (a fuck of a lot), they cook meat (with the odd vegetable here and there) and a lot of northern folk say ‘Ee that’s right tasty, that – wi’out a doubt’. All this whilst Jamie Oliver allows lots of unflattering shots of himself to be broadcast, aware that this will make him seem even more ‘man of the people’ than he was before.
Though he has a point and even though the problem is reaching morbidly obese proportions, you can’t help but find this campaign short sighted. School Dinners worked (or is beginning to work) because it was about changing the way a small niche of the food industry operated and forcing the government to change the routine.
With this ‘Pass It On’ idea, however, Jamie’s floating in la la land. As the Teaching Assistant who dropped out of his class said, time is a huge issue for most people. But it’s not only that. Good produce is almost impossible to find. Vegetables have been frozen en route to supermarkets and most meat has been intensively reared, with labelling disguising all the underhand processes that go on. Add this to general, wilful ignorance, stubborn stupidity and the fact that a lot of people aren’t that keen on Jamie Oliver and the mountain seems infinitely unassailable.
Are our eating habits so bad that it requires TV chefs to assuage the problem with campaigns like these? Or is it just another format – something new to excite viewers who are tiring of the usual kitchen based food programming?
First School Dinners, then the chicken/organic Hugh Fearnely Whatsit stuff and now this… are we being scared into a hypochondriac state by foodie fascism, or have they got a point?
Anyone fancy a chicken kiev?