Dismal ratings and off-camera messes hampered the second season of Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” from the moment he arrived in Los Angeles. Clearly unimpressed with the British celebrity chef’s lackluster performance, ABC’s top brass elected to air highlight reels from “Dancing with the Stars” in place of Oliver's show during May “sweeps week,” when networks pit their strongest programs against each other.
ABC officials insist, though, Oliver’s blitzkrieg on the Los Angeles Unified School District will recommence in late May. If you read between the lines, the food “revolution” will return in a graveyard time slot during summer rerun season, when steady viewership isn’t expected and active parents are out doing more exciting things with their children (on Friday nights, for instance, at 9pm).
Oliver can claim some success as LAUSD’s new superintendent signaled his intent to remove chocolate milk from cafeterias. But that symbolic gesture (or lip service, depending on how you read it) didn’t even occur on Oliver’s own program. (It happened on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talk show.)
Oliver’s much-ballyhooed rationale for banning chocolate milk is based on his personal brand of junk science that incorrectly links sugar-sweetened moo juice to diabetes—which the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has already debunked. (The ADA’s says simply consuming sugar does not cause diabetes, and it's safe to assume they—not Oliver—are the experts.)
In addition to dismissing Oliver’s type-two fear mongering, America’s leading health and nutrition organizations affirm that sugar-sweetened milk is an “important choice” for kids to have in school cafeterias. A joint press statement issued in November 2009 from these organizations states:
Milk provides nutrients essential for good health and kids will drink more when it’s flavored;
Flavored milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk – calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents);
Drinking low-fat or fat-free white or flavored milk helps kids get the 3 daily servings of milk recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and provides three of the five ‘nutrients of concern’ that children do not get enough of – calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as vitamin D;
Low-fat chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and kids drink less milk (and get fewer nutrients) if it’s taken away.
Let’s hope ABC's decision makers have finally come to their senses, and that they’re just letting the spotlight-starved chef down easy (before dropping his drooping show completely). After just two painful episodes of “Food Revolution” this season, we think everyone can agree that Jamie Oliver’s tasteless tactics are more befitting a school bully than someone honestly trying to help kids live healthier lives.