THE BLOG
06/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Can Jamie Oliver Save Us From Ourselves?

Jamie Oliver -- what a peach! What a dream! There's not much that hasn't already been said about his unwavering work to get America eating better. After watching his Food Revolution, I felt inspired and motivated to find out what other people are doing to combat the horrifying childhood obesity epidemic in this country.

As it turns out, there are some pretty heavy hitters going to bat for the cause with the first lady leading the charge. Her Let's Move! initiative is helping to get kids active and is now backed by as much as $1 billion a year in federal funds for the next 10 years.

Last week, with the help of local elementary school students, Michelle Obama planted an even larger organic vegetable garden at the White House than she did last year. The 1,500 square-foot plot has more than 55 varieties of healthy veggies including new additions like bok choy, cauliflower, artichokes and mustard greens.

Lady O's gardening efforts got me thinking about just how many servings of fruits and vegetables we should be eating everyday. Remember the government's trusty food pyramid? Even though it's been recently revised, I don't really like it. The Department of Agriculture suggests that a balanced diet consists of a variety of foods from all six food groups, yet some of their recommendations just don't make sense.

After much scrutiny, the food pyramid was updated slightly in 2005 -- but has anything really changed? Though the new pyramid is more flexible, it's still based on a whopping 2,000 calorie per day diet. That's way too much...unless you're running several miles a day or just plain want to put on a few pounds around the waistline. And why do they suggest people only make half of their grain intake be from whole grains? We need to strive to make all of our grains whole. 


I think the problem lies in the program's backing: The "partners" of the mypyramid campaign are some of the country's largest producers of damaging foods (Pepsi, Dairy Queen, Burger King...).

Until the huge food companies stop running the show and having such government pull, there isn't going to be any real progress -- no matter how many Band-Aids are put on top. If a tomato is actually a chemically-saturated, empty calorie, nitrogen-stored tennis ball, then we aren't actually going to be en route to a healthier culture. Jamie, help!


What do you think about the state of childhood obesity in our country? Do you think our food system needs a serious overhaul?