I mean, for heaven's sake, we're talking about reality TV. Infotainment.
It's not like Jamie Oliver is out to reform all of America's eating habits. That would be like saying The Bachelor was designed to create long-lasting love matches, or Survivor was about wilderness training.
Is Jamie Oliver Serious About a Food Revolution?
Not that I'm jaded, but I suspect the pitch for this show was something like, "Hey guys, let's do The Biggest Loser meets Iron Chef!"
I don't quite see producers going in with, "We need a substantial engagement device that will capture America's attention, leading to high-level policy reform, meaningful dialogue about school lunches and significant changes in the nutritional profile of fast food."
(What can I say? I live in the Washington, D.C. area. That load of policy wonk verbiage rolled off my tongue easier than a beer goes down a basketball fan's throat during March Madness. Must be something in the water around here.)
Truth to be told, now that I've watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I think the guy is actually serious. Jamie Oliver really wants to change the way we eat. And call me a wide-eyed optimist, but I think he may succeed.
It won't be the first time a British import launched a revolution in American culture. Do John, Paul, George and Ringo ring a bell?.
Big Changes Are Needed to Start a Food Revolution
But more important than Jamie Oliver's charming British accent and rugged good looks is his message: Something has to change. Actually, somethings have to change, because one step in the right direction isn't enough.
Lots of smart people are on the good food bandwagon, from Michelle Obama to Michael Pollan to Bill Clinton. But to combat a problem as massive and complex as the obesity epidemic, we need more than trickle-down policy initiatives and erudite tomes on the heinous state of our agricultural system.
Those are all useful weapons, to be sure, but an affable chef with a British accent, a heart of gold, and seemingly boundless energy may be just what America needs to make real, lasting change in the way we eat.
I'm not saying Jamie Oliver will do it alone. I'm not saying he will succeed in every effort. I'm saying he will succeed in raising the level of engagement of the population as a whole, in the same way Michelle Obama will. And that may just be the tipping point we need.