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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Viva La Food Revolution

Formerly known as “The Naked Chef,” British Chef and Television personality, Jamie Oliver has landed in the US to tackle one of the most prolific causes of death in the United States, Obesity.  Oliver’s first mission: Huntington, West Virginia, the unhealthiest city in the whole country in a project called, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, 2010).

Huntington, West Virginia, home of Marshall University, is a wonderful town, the people are great, they are a community united by Marshall University Football and Saturday’s at the stadium cheering on the Thundering Herd. There is a good public school system, several parks, art museums and galleries, a great costume shop downtown, fine dining and quirky little destinations that are a must see, and there are a number of great community programs and activities. The people of Huntington are good people, a warm and welcoming community but nobody likes some outsider coming in and pointing out their flaws no matter how noble his mission may be.

Jamie was not exactly greeted with the warmest of welcomes from the people of Huntington. They had heard long before production crews had ever showed up that there was a reality show coming to Huntington and they were doing a show on the fattest city in America based upon the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotions statistics that showed that 45.3 percent of Huntington is overweight or obese (2002-2006 WV Behavioral Risk Factors and Health Conditions by County, 2006). People are resistant to change and do don’t really take kindly to strangers coming in and trying to make big changes; it’s scary, even if it is for all of the right reasons, but what is truly more scary is that what they don’t know may very well be killing them and their children.  

Obesity is a form of malnutrition and it is linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a number of other diseases.  According the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women and every 25 seconds someone dies of a heart attack in America (Obesity and Overweight, 2010). Jamie Oliver’s efforts may seem radical, and America’s views of reality TV may lead one to believe that it is Jamie Oliver, Ryan Seacrest Productions, and ABC’s M.O. to exploit the citizens Huntington and ‘create drama’ and entertainment, but Huntington and the United States is in desperate need of radical change and the reality TV format on a major network may draw enough viewers to get people talking about the issues and may inspire them to take control of their lives and their health. And while, yes some of the reality is “produced” to create good television, the show is touching on an important issue and Jamie sincerely wants to create a catalyst for change, good change. He is trying to inspire people to care about what they put into their bodies and into their kids bodies.

Nobody is saying that you have to stop eating at your favorite restaurants because it's not very good for you, but if people were more educated about where their food comes from and had more of a connection to their food, I think the public would be more conscious of what they eat and would make healthier eating decisions. Then, perhaps, our agricultural systems would imrove, people would start eating locally and the food market would have to adjust to reflect the demands of the consumer, our country would take more of an interest in urban agriculture and perhaps someone in the neighborhood will start a garden in the back yard, the neighbor next door might have laying hens, and the couple down the street may have a cellar and a knack for canning vegetables. And so the two neighbors trade eggs for produce and the couple down the street cans the two neighbor's vegetables for winter supplies in exchange for fresh eggs and produce. Community.

There are such huge divides, walls that we put up in America that are not there in most other cultures. We live in little boxes and buy our food in plastic wrap, where it has no face, it has no name, and we get in the trough line at the local buffet, or our kids get in line at school and are served food that is bought with our tax dollars, food that contains meat that is lower grade meat than that of Taco Bell. It is meat that if it didn’t go to the school lunch program, it would go to be processed into dog food. It’s our responsibility as citizens, as parents to educate ourselves and our children on nutrition and at least a little bit of agriculture. Even if you don’t want to have a garden, raise chickens or dairy goats, take your kids to a tour of a farm, learn about where food comes from.  Because if we keep just letting commercial farming take over without finding out where our food comes from, what they are pumpin’ into it (pesticides in our vegetables and antibiotics in our meat, high fructose corn syrup), these mortality rates for obesity and malnutrition disease related deaths is just going to skyrocket even more so.

If we as a society knew more about agriculture, we could save money, eat healthier, and drive down the cost of health care, and most importantly, Save Lives. 

Good food and nutritious food should not be mutually exclusive. I believe what Jamie Oliver is doing is challenging American’s to make better decisions and live better lives for ourselves and for the sake of our kids, and that is something that we as people of all backgrounds and professions should embrace; we should all step up to the task at hand and take our country, our food, and our lives back from the corporate monster that wants to fatten us up on processed food and then deny us healthcare…but I digress.


2002-2006 WV Behavioral Risk Factors and Health Conditions by County. (2006). Retrieved March 15, 2010, from
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. (2010, March). Retrieved March 15, 2010, from ABC:
Obesity and Overweight. (2010). Retrieved March 15, 2010, from American Heart Association:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Arkansas Take Action Now: Free the West Memphis 3

We were in Little Rock, Arkansas, at Oyster's Bar and Grill, late February for Arkansas Take Action Now's rally in support of the West Memphis 3.

Despite new evidence and old evidence that in no way links them to the victims, Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore, who were killed in Robin Hills in 1993, or the scene of the crime, the coined, 'Memphis 3" have not been able to get a retrial. The first trial, in which they were convicted, was even highly mishandled.  

Damien Nichols, who has been on Death Row for 17 years and Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley whom are serving life, have been getting support over the years by concerned local citizens, Arkansas Take Action Now, and entertainers and celebrities like Johnny Depp and the Dixie Chicks whom have either used their status to raise awareness, monetarily contributed, raising money to get the new DNA testing, or helped to push this thing back into court and get the Memphis 3 another trial, a fair trial, for the justice of the Three and the three victims and their families.