I’m not sure why Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has returned to television. Does the former Naked Chef want to cure obesity? Does he want to reduce diabetes? Does he want to remove additives from our food? Is it fat? Is it sugar? Is it children? Is it adults? Is it a war on drugs?
Why would anyone want to stop doing drugs if they’re hooked? If it feels good, tastes good, releases endorphins, or gives you a buzz, logic will not motivate you to stop.
He may consider himself a “food activist”, but he’s forgotten to answer the single most important question people ask themselves when confronted with change. “What’s in it for me?” is the American credo that the Brit ignores repeatedly.
There’s no singular goal stated in the premier episode of the second season, just the angst that Jamie feels from being able to motivate no one. The School Board doesn’t care to be host to a reality TV show, and even the twenty or so people that show up for his food stunts don’t seem moved past their desire to be caught by TV cameras with a celebrity chef in a plaid shirt.
Banned by the Los Angeles School Board from filming in any schools, he attends a public hearing, waits 3 hours to be heard and simply says “I want you to reconsider”. “Um….,” said the school board, “NO”. He made no plea to the potential health benefits, cost savings, ease of production, economic impact, or whiter teeth that his proposals would effect. “Oh, pleeeeease” is all he said. The British accent isn’t compelling enough on its own, Jamie.
Okay, so he can’t take on the entire school board, he can’t change parents and their children, let’s re-focus. What would be the next best thing for the food revolution? Jamie decides on a multi-generational family owned nostalgia-themed hamburger joint. He wants to compel the owner to change the menu that has supported his family for 40 years. “What’s in it for me?”
Again, Jamie has no compelling argument for the business owner. His changes won’t increase sales, they won’t lower costs or simplify labor, and they won’t give the paying public what they demand. This is evidenced by the yogurt smoothie that he insists on calling a milkshake. I should switch from a 1950’s style milkshake, in my 1950’s theme restaurant, to a smoothie? “What’s in it for me?”
Jamie is pretending he doesn’t know what it takes to run a successful restaurant, or change people’s opinions for that matter. Very simply, the demand drives the supply. If people don’t place a value on what your offering, if it doesn’t become important to THEM, hamburger or activist cause, they won’t buy it.
Successful activist movements educate and build demand. Successful businesses fill the demand of the marketplace. What the rest of the world does isn’t important to Americans. We really don’t care that flavored milk was banned in the UK, it tastes good here. The real problem is that Americans think ALL food comes sweetened, pre-prepared and wrapped in PVC plastics.
His best tactic was assembling parents and shocking them into outrage over the food their children are being fed. With a live cow, a dead cow, and a butcher, Chef Oliver performs a disgusting demonstration of what comprises the cheap food that Americans eat. But, again, “What’s in it for me?” WHY should insisting on better food be important to these people? Is it because ABC has a television show to produce? That’s not a good enough reason to motivate people to storm the School Board.
If the Naked Chef returned to his roots and taught people HOW to cook, the “what’s in it for me?” question would be answered. When you learn to cook, you gain power over your food choices. You have to use whole foods to cook, not plastic-wrapped Danish. When you learn to cook, you can eat a greater variety of food, you can use healthier foods which give you more energy, can improve your test scores and athletic ability, help you run faster and grow taller, and clear up your acne. When you learn to cook, you gain confidence in a new skill, you’re more social as you can reunite your family over dinner or host great parties. You get more dates when you can cook a great meal. Cooking as a hobby brings you into a loving community of people who share ideas, ingredients, and recipes. When you learn to cook, you’re growing by constantly learning about global ingredients and new methods of preparation. When you learn to cook, you can save money on take-out and restaurant foods. When you learn to cook, your sex life is better. That’s what’s in it for you.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution IS the war on drugs because he’s making the same mistakes. He’s concentrating on the supply and not the demand. To change individual habits, you have to change individual mindsets. If my favorite fatty hamburger joint starts serving tofu, I’ll just find another “dealer”. Not until I’m motivated toward something better than hamburger or drugs will I WANT to change, and even begin to hear the new message. Otherwise, Americans will want to know “what’s in it for me?”
What's in it for YOU? What would Jamie have to say to you to motivate you to eat better food? Please leave your comment below:
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