The Jamie Oliver Backlash

TV chef Jamie Oliver’s crusade to bring healthy food to Great Britain’s schoolchildren has been hailed all over the place. The Channel 4 Political Awards named him the Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005. Tony Blair cited Oliver’s work while introducing increased funds for school meals. And Oliver’s been named as a member of the Order of the British Empire.

Now quite a few British parents are calling his efforts “rubbish,” arguing that it’s Oliver’s healthier meals that are causing a plummeting interest in school lunch throughout the country. According to a story in the Evening Standard:

Demand for lunches has slumped almost 20 per cent in secondary schools since his campaign to banish junk food. ...

Figures released yesterday by the School Food Trust showed nearly two-thirds of secondary pupils are shunning school meals. Take-up last year was 37.7 per cent—against 44.9 per cent two years before.

A photo in the story shows parents passing food to students through a playground fence, a courageous revolt against the tyranny of the healthy eating habits that Oliver and his government cronies would like to impose upon the UK’s young people.

Now, it makes a certain amount of sense that when you raise kids to eat hamburgers, fried “Turkey Twizzlers,” and chips, you’re going to see some negative push-back when you change over to light pasta dishes, fresh vegetables, and fish. But is that Jamie Oliver’s fault? Not really—pushing healthy food on junk-food eaters will always be an uphill struggle, and numerous reputable studies have shown that healthier school meals pay academic and physical dividends.

But for an alternative viewpoint on Oliver and his good works, you may wish to turn to a recent blog post on the Devil’s Kitchen titled “Seriously, Jamie Oliver Is a Complete Cunt.” A choice excerpt:

It is very telling of the simplistic outlook of Mr Oliver that he thinks by restricting the choices available to people, he will fundamentally change their behaviour. Because kids won’t go looking for junk food outside of school if they can’t get it in school. Perhaps this is another reason why he got on so well with the uber fascist, Tony Blair.

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