Thursday, April 15, 2010

Would you like a gastric band with that?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've often wondered why people continue to eat the chemical cocktails that pass for food these days when their contents are brazenly confessed on the packet. Having watched the first few episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I have my answer.

Jamie's goal is to take the hillbilly backwater that is Huntington, West Virginia - statistically the fattest state in the US - and squeeze it under a microcosmic magnifying glass to highlight the way in which parents and the government are colluding to kill their kids with junk food.

In one scene, a junior school dinner lady tries to justify the coronary-inducing slop she is preparing for lunch. She flips over a box of chicken patties, glances at the ingredients list and declares it perfectly acceptable because the first item listed is 'chicken'. Never mind the other three dozen unpronounceable fillers, additives, flavour enhancers and preservatives below this in the line up. I'm sure these could include excrement or cyanide and still get the all clear from these clueless poison peddlers.

Clearly wasting his breath on the adults, an exasperated Jamie turns his attention to the kids. In a last ditch attempt to convince them to change their eating habits he whips out the big guns; his what's-in-a-chicken-nugget demo. Apparently this silver bullet induces spontaneous convulsions in British kids so is sure to do the trick. Before their eyes he blends up the picked-clean carcass of a chicken along with its connective tissue and throws in some artificial flavour for good measure, coats the vile, pink sludge in bread crumbs and then dares, "now who wants nuggets for lunch?". To my horror some hands from the audience still shoot up in the air without a moment's pause. It seems you can make anything taste palatable if you deep fry it in enough golden brown grease.

We catch up with the school 'cooks' again following the publishing of a newspaper article accusing Jamie of branding them stupid and ignorant. His comments were twisted for dramatic effect, nevertheless they seem genuinely shocked and baffled by the suggestion. This coming from grown adults who routinely serve the kids in their care pizza for breakfast and nitpick at the nutritional value of Jamie's alternative meals.

In another episode we meet 16 year old Brittany who is so obese, doctors have told her she's likely to be 6 feet under in 5-7 years as a result of the spots on her liver caused through binge eating. The threat of death looming over her like a black cloud apparently hasn't been enough to motivate her to exercise or go on a diet, yet now there's 5 minutes of fame at stake, she's prepared to take her health seriously.

I suppose the take-away (pun intended) lesson is that eating colossal dollops of saturated fat on a bun for breakfast, lunch and tea makes you morbidly obese. See, watching TV can be educational.


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