Get off the couch and “stand up for real food”

Posted by
May 22, 2012

From Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution page

What did you eat this past Saturday?

If it came from a frozen box or can or was cooked in the microwave, you obviously didn’t take part in chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day.

May 19th was Oliver’s “day of action,” to promote ‘real’ food and “get back to basics and start thinking about where our food comes from.”

Food Revolution Day spanned 63 countries and 664 cities, Oliver noted on his Facebook page –  all to promote better food choices and healthier lifestyles, as well as Oliver’s petition, which currently has over 800,000 signatures. Called the “one million challenge” the petition is a plea to improve food choices, especially in schools and to “keep cooking skills alive.”

While Oliver’s contentions — that home-cooked meals are a rare event, and that most kids “are completely out of touch” with where food comes from (maybe the stork?) –  may be correct, it’s also true that cooking-related shows are at an all-time high.

Check out the schedule for the Food Network and you’ll see an entire list of highly popular shows all devoted to preparing food, such as “Sandwich King,” “The Best Thing I Ever Made,” “Mexican Made Easy,” and “The Pioneer Woman” – where “ranch wife” Ree cooks up a storm every Saturday.  Other “reality” cooking-related shows include TLC’s “Next Great Baker,” in which contestants bake for cash and prizes, hosted by the star of yet another TLC cooking show called “Cake Boss.”

Oliver’s Food Foundation, however, goes a step further, by attempting to get people off the couch simply watching other people cook and back in the kitchen actually doing it themselves. To this end, the  foundation sponsors “Big Red,” a mobile “teaching” kitchen that tours the country to make folks “street-wise about food” and bring back the “joy of cooking.”  At the beginning of this month, for example, it showed up at UCLA Medical Center after being invited by the UCLA Health System to help address the “increasing” number of obesity-related health issues seen at the hospital. “Shockingly,” Health System CEO David Feinberg was quoted as saying in the university paper, “one of the top reasons why people need transplants (at UCLA) is obesity-related liver disease.”

Five ways to transform yourself into a ‘real food revolutionary’

The first official Food Revolution Day, of course, was not intended to make eating real food a one-day a year event, but rather to mark the beginning of a nationwide revolution in our daily eating habits.  So even if you missed out on the launching of Oliver’s campaign, you and your family can ‘get with the program’ anytime you choose.  Here are a few ideas to get you started – and keep you rediscovering the joys of real food every day:

  • Purchase a bread machine: Tired of reading bread labels to find a loaf made without brominated and bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup and neurotoxic additives? Bake your own, and you can use high-grade ingredients at less cost with no hand kneading involved.
  • Get a crock pot – and use it: An oft-gifted device, the crock pot usually sits gathering dust. The crock pot is a handy way to make “real” food when you can’t be home all day cooking. You probably have one already; check behind the toaster and coffee maker.
  • Grow some easy veggies: Some things are fairly easy to grow; all you need is a sunny spot and a container of soil. Tomatoes are a favorite as are snap peas, Swiss chard and different varieties of greens. Let the kids be part of the growing action and they will eat every last bite of food that came from their own garden.
  • Shop at your local farmers market: A bag of fresh, local goodies from a nearby farmers market is probably enough to inspire you to cook tonight instead of looking in the freezer for a pizza. There’s nothing like some time spent around fresh, real food to get you cooking!
  • Steer clear of highly processed, frozen “dinners”: The best way not to be tempted to consume that overpriced, overly processed frozen dinner at 6 p.m. when you’re hungry and tired is to not buy it in the first place. If you must eat ready-made chow, frozen foods with organic ingredients are much better choices. (Amy’s Kitchen, for example, offers a variety of such products).

Oliver’s motto is: “stand up for real food.” To which we might add,“it’s easier than you think!”