Original Article, titled Jamie Oliver: food for thought and subheaded Jamie Oliver has hit our screens again, this time teaching people how to cook. Amy Leather welcomes his take on food and class, by Amy Leather via Socialist Worker (UK):
In the last few years a moral panic over food has taken hold in Britain. Working class people are given rubbish to eat. This can mean a lifetime of health problems such as diabetes, obesity and even early death. We are then blamed for these effects.
The government and the media have made food into a personal and moral issue. What we eat – we are told – is down to decisions made by individuals. So if we make the wrong choices, it’s our own fault and we deserve the consequences.
It sounds like capitalism for the cullinary set, doesn’t it? Well, as we have been finding out the past few months, capitalism is kaput (at least the neoliberal variety). Perhaps we’ve been following a capitalist view of our eating habits a bit too closely.
I thought celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s new series “Jamie’s Ministry of Food” would follow this pattern. The media coverage of the show certainly has encouraged voyeurism at the “feckless” young mums who feed their kids nothing but crisps, chocolate and kebabs.
But this is a fascinating series. By making it, Oliver has unexpectedly pushed the issue of class into the centre of the debate over what we eat.
Ah, the English. Always worried about class.
snark mode on
Isn’t it great we live in a classless society here in the US?
snark mode off
The trigger for the series was the resistance shown in some areas of the country when healthier school dinners were introduced off the back of Oliver’s previous TV campaign.
B…but…but we can’t afford to feed the kids good meals. After all, shouldn’t they be able to afford that on thier own. Bugger off, the unsuccessful sods.
Needless to say, in our neoliberal economic society, that’s what we’re supposed to think. I’m sure many of us have heard the same complaints any time increases in school lunch funding is suggested. Maybe it’s time we take into consideration the needs of the society as a whole as opposed to the simple bottom line.
Oliver wants to understand where this attitude stems from. But more importantly he wants to re-engage people with food and cooking. So he has come up with the idea of “pass it on” – teaching people new recipes who can then spread the skills throughout their community.
This is an enormous challenge for one person, and in the process Jamie Oliver goes on his own voyage of discovery of working class life. We see the difficult circumstances of ordinary people’s lives – so rarely portrayed on TV – and the tremendous capacity people have for change.
I’ll let you finish reading the article. Needless to say, it looks as if Oliver’s on to something, even if he wasn’t originally looking for it.
So, are we ready to follow in Jamie’s footsteps and look deeper into our own class differences and how they effect our lives? I should hope so. I’m not sure when or if this current series will make it stateside, but I’m sure it’ll eventually be available in some for of disc package in the near future.