Fighting obesity one seed packet at a time

I've never been a particular fan of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, but I have to admit I'm hooked on his new ABC show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. After successfully instigating change in the school lunch programs in Great Britain, the chef, who is now the father of young children, decided to take his show on the road in the USA. He chose Huntington, W.Va., as his target site after the community received the unfortunate distinction as the unhealthiest city in America. While it's hard to tell just how much of any reality television program is authentic and how much conflict is scripted for dramatic effect, Oliver does appear to have a fight on his hands in Hunt­ing­ton. The local talk radio guy is set against him, as are some of the cafeteria cooks. He appears to be making some headway with a group of teenagers, much the same way he's done at home in London. I've found a couple of scenes from the past two weeks to be very disturbing. The first showed a group of first-graders who could not identify any fresh vegetables by name. They didn't appear to know that french fries come from potatoes or ketchup is made from tomatoes, much less recognize broccoli or eggplant. Then this past week, the school official in charge of cafeterias explained to a stupefied Oliver that a meal consisting of a processed chicken patty on a bun paired with a pile of french fries met the USDA mandated meal guidelines, but his fresh chicken and noodle stir-fry with seven chopped vegetables did not because it did not contain 1¼ cup of vegetables per serving. If these things are an accurate depiction of what's happening in our public schools, it's no wonder we're facing an epidemic of obesity and diabetes! I am now very curious to see what kind of changes Oliver can bring about. For more on the series, see "TV Eye," Screens. Meanwhile, take your kids on the East Austin Urban Farm Tour this weekend and introduce them to some sources of fresh food here in town... On the local food news front, chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen's Kitchen (7720 Hwy. 71 W., 852-8558, will be giving away free packets of vegetable seeds to kids who eat in his restaurant during the week of April 12-18, hoping to encourage them to grow their own... Fabi + Rosi (509 Hearn, 236-0642, has recently added a weekday happy hour beginning at 5pm with a special menu and outdoor garden seating. Drop by to enjoy a sunset over the garden... Ski Shores (2905 Pearce, 804-0326,, a beloved lakeside spot since the Fifties, reopens this month under the management of Restau­rant Freedom (Austin Java, Uncle Billy's, Little Woodrow's, Texa­delphia) partners Rick Engel and Mark Turner, with expanded indoor and outdoor facilities, a bigger menu and full bar, wait service, and dockside delivery. The weather is perfect for checking it out... Chef Tyson Cole and his wife, Rebekkah, have welcomed a third child to their family. Amelia Ruthe Cole (8 pounds, 8 ounces, 21 inches) was born March 31.

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More Jamie Oliver
TV Eye
TV Eye
Are You Going to Eat That?

Belinda Acosta, April 9, 2010

More East Austin Urban Farm Tour
The Fourth Annual East Austin Urban Farm Tour
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Stroll through Eastside urban farms and enjoy tasty eats and drinks from local vendors

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Jamie Oliver, East Austin Urban Farm Tour, Fabi + Rosi, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Tyson Cole

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