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Food Revolution L.A.

Update: Photos of a Food Revolution event in Santa Monica (2/12/11) added to my Flickr folder.

My good friend Bob Merrick and I are both HUGE fans of British chef Jamie Oliver. We’re also supporters of his “Food Revolution”, both the show (which won a 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program) AND the movement.

Food Revolution L.A.The first season was filmed in Huntington, West Virginia and personally, I was moved to tears watching Jamie’s struggle to help the community change it’s eating habits, focusing mostly on school children.

My husband Peter and I don’t have kids, but we have lots of nieces and nephews, so we were stunned by the poor quality of processed, unhealthy meals being served in school cafeterias. As Jamie notes on his website:

“This food revolution is about saving America’s health by changing the way you eat. It’s not just a TV show, it’s a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking. Find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better but it will add years to your life.”

Season Two of Food Revolution is now filming in Los Angeles. The problem is, that unlike the city of Huntington, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will NOT allow Jamie Oliver to film in any of our schools. The L.A. Times reported that an LAUSD spokesman said there is no chance for a change of heart. Via email, Robert Alaniz stated that “Reality TV has a formula. You either have to have drama or create conflict to be successful. We’re not interested in either.”

Food Revolution L.A.Yesterday, Bob, Peter and our friend Brent were lucky enough to hear Jamie Oliver speak at his L.A. Food Revolution headquarters in Westwood. “Jamie’s Kitchen” is not only a set for season two, but also a community kitchen where folks can learn to cook healthy meals.

Cameras were rolling as parents, kids, aunts and uncles were on hand to discuss the current status of our unfortunate school lunch system. Many parents brought along samples of what their children are being fed, and most of us gasped as Jamie opened packages of processed, plastic containers of what looked like mostly junk. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take photos during the actual taping, but got a few shots afterwards.

Always passionate about educating (in a fun way), Jamie even brought in a live cow and local butchers to explain how the cheapest (throwaway) scraps of beef are being processed into our food system. Don’t worry, he didn’t butcher the live cow (we were worried for a minute!), but instead used the cow as sort of a chalk board to demonstrate the cost of meat.

Food Revolution L.A.As the butchers broke down large slabs of meat in front of us, Jamie gave us a demonstration of how some beef processing companies make more money by soaking beef scraps in ammonia. This is so the meat would be safe from E. coli and salmonella contamination. These scraps were previously only sold for pet food or cooking oil, but we also get to enjoy it mixed into our burgers. I know… GROSS. Read more about this issue below.

I remember watching the first few episodes of Food Revolution season one and thinking, “wow, I feel bad for these kids in West Virginia. What a shame that they have to grow up eating such crap.” My super-healthy, big sister Janet has always packed her kids lunches, so I rarely heard my niece and nephews complain about their cafeteria fare. When the twins (now 15) were little, my sister would give them fruit-juice sweetened bran muffins instead of cookies. I always felt BAD for them and would treat them to extra ice cream (naughty Aunt Jo) when they stayed overnight. I realize how lucky my family is now, that they didn’t have to rely on public school lunches for nutrition.

Yesterday was a revelation for me. The school lunch problem isn’t just in small towns or on a reality show. It’s HERE LOS ANGELES, and we’ve got this amazing champion ready and willing to take on the challenge in a big way. Jamie Oliver won’t be able to fix it all of course, but he’s got a voice… a great big, passionate (Emmy-winning) voice to lead the way.

How can we help RIGHT NOW? By emailing the LAUSD board members directly.

At the end of our meeting yesterday, Jamie handed out letters and email addresses of each of the seven board members. I’ve copied the letter below so you can help with the campaign yourself.

Let’s do this Los Angeles!!!

Jamie Oliver’s Open Letter:

Thank you for coming today. I need your support. Please write to the LAUSD board members (addresses below) to grant me access into the schools to see the food being fed to your children. Please try to do this in the next 24 hours. I’m never going to get this done without you.

Please CC: JamiesKitchenLA@Live.com on these emails so I can track the great work you are doing. Please make the subject of your email “Let Jamie Oliver into LAUSD”. Please pass this on to your friends and family and show your support on our Facebook page – “Food Revolution Los Angeles”. Your effort with make a difference.”

Big Love,
Jamie Oliver

Board Member Contacts:

Disctrict 1: Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte
email Marguerite.Lamotte@lausd.net

District 2: Monica Garcia
email Monica.Garica@lausd.net

District 3: Tamar Galatzan
email Tamar.Galatzan@lausd.net

Disctrict 4: Steve Zimmer
email Steve.Zimmer@lausd.net

District 5: Yoli Flores
email Yolie.Flores@lausd.net

District 6: Nury Martinez
email Nury.Martinez@lausd.net

District 7: Dr. Richard Vladovic
email Richard.Vladovic@lausd.net

Here is what I wrote in my email to EACH board member:
Please give Jamie Oliver access to our LAUSD schools. Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” is NOT just a television show. He truly cares about the health of our children, and the public has a right to see the state of nutrition in our public schools.

Thank you for your time.
Jo Stougaard

Remember to cc: JamiesKitchenLA@Live.com
and make the subject of your email “Let Jamie Oliver into LAUSD”

If you don’t know what district your kids are in, check here

Food Revolution L.A.Follow Jamie Oliver on Twitter

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution L.A. FaceBook

Jamie Oliver’s website

News about Food Revolution L.A. (L.A. Weekly)

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Rejected By LAUSD (Grub Street L.A.)

TV chef Jamie Oliver shut out of L.A. school cafeterias (L.A. Times)

Would you soak your beef in ammonia? (New England Health Advisory via New York Times)

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) website

My friend Bob’s website

Just for fun: For my nephew’s high school graduation (2007), we flew to London to eat at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen

All my Food Revolution L.A. photos on flickr

Watch a clip from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Season 1

Sign the Food Revolution Petition


with Chef Jamie Oliver

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Fifteen, London

Dinner at Jamie Oliver’s original Fifteen restaurant was the beginning of a graduation trip with my nephew Cody. Our main reason for the trip was so we could visit my father (Cody’s grandfather) in Bridge of Weir, near Glasgow, Scotland. But before our family reunion, I wanted Cody to get a wee taste of London, so I arranged a few days in one of MY favorite cities in the world.

Planning the trip was so exciting, because it meant Cody and I got to spend some quality time together. If you have teenagers in your life then you probably know how busy they can be with after-school jobs, friends and girlfriends. This trip was a gift for Cody getting good grades, but it was also a really special gift for me. My husband Peter decided to stay home so it would just be “Cody and Aunt Jo’s Great British Adventure”, and it was. Thanks again Peter!

Before I even booked our flights, I started emailing and calling Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant in London. I wanted to make sure we could get a reservation during our brief stop in England. Cody and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver, and it was Cody who, as a little kid, first introduced me to the “Naked Chef”. A celebratory dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant sounded like the perfect first night in England.

We arrived in London on June 21st and after checking into our hotel, hopped on the Tube and easily made our 7pm dinner reservation. Fifteen’s tasting menu was fantastic, and it was an excellent start to our British food adventure.

Our dinner at Fifteen Restaurant, London

Fifteen Restaurant London, MyLastBite.com
A little Jet-lagged but excited to be at the restaurant!

Fifteen Tasting Menu, MyLastBite.com
The Fifteen Tasting Menu

Cody & Carpaccio at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Peroni Beer (in the UK, you can drink at 18!) and Carpaccio of Buccleuch Beef (hung for 28 days) with minted marinated asparagus, oregano from Jamie’s garden, wild rocket and pecorino.

Scallop Crudo at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Scallop crudo, pomegranate, coriander, deep-fried ginger and yuzu

Pasta at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Papardelle “fatte in casa” with a Scotch beef ragu, freshly grated horseradish

Salmon at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Char-grilled line-caught wild salmon with peperonata, beet leaves and basil pesto

Pete Gott's Pork at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Pan-roasted shoulder of pork from Pete Gott’s farm (cooked in milk, sage and Amalfi lemon) with turnips and rainbow chard from Thurrocks Farm
Panna Cotta at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Vanilla Panna Cotta with English Strawberries and Biscotti

Lemon Tart at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
Lemon Tart with Roast Apricots and Lime Creme Fraiche

With my nephew Cody at Fifteen London, MyLastBite.com
A fantastic “Fifteen” dinner experience!

Dining date: June 21, 2007 (7pm reservation)

Fifteen Restaurant, London England

More about Fifteen restaurants

Fifteen London Address:
15 Westland Place, London, N1 7LP
Tel: (UK) 020 7251 1515
Nearest Tube Station:
Old Street

More photos from our trip

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