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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Makes a Difference

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 8:15 AM


​When Jamie Oliver arrived in Huntington, W.V. to film a reality show about getting the fattest city in America to slim down and eat better, it seemed like a moralistic, sensationalistic stunt. But in Gilt Taste, Jane Black, a former Washington Post writer who spent six months in Huntington in the wake of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," reports that the lunches the school cafeterias are serving now are radically different from two years ago. The cafeteria staff who were his biggest opponents? They've signed on to the revolution.

Over the last two years, Rhonda McCoy--the school food service director who was portrayed on the show as an aloof bureaucrat more concerned with budgets and caloric counts than kids' health--has redeveloped recipes, held after-hours taste tests, sourced fresh and unprocessed ingredients at affordable prices, bought new equipment and trained school cooks. She also endured an unprecedented four regulatory audits to ensure that the new meals met federal nutritional and caloric standards. She passed.

Now the cooks who once protested his changes are making chicken quesadillas with brown rice and stromboli sandwiches on freshly baked bread -- and West Virginia is going to reproduce Huntington's from-scratch model in eight of the poorest counties in the state. All it took was a world-famous chef heaping scorn on the community in front of a national audience. Imagine what reality TV could do for humpy bachelors and overentitled housewives! Oh, wait.

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