Has Jamie Oliver Slain the Flavored Milk Beast?

Adriana Velez
30

choco milkJamie Oliver may be having a heckuva time getting into a Los Angeles school on this season's Food Revolution, but his relentless campaigning seems to be leading to another victory: getting sweetened, flavored milk out of schools.

This is one of the problems Jamie has focused on early in the second season -- the way schools load students with a heaping dose of sugar every day through those cartons of flavored milk. He built a campaign demanding that LAUSD -- and other schools around the country -- dump the sugary milk from school cafeterias.

Lo and behold, Jamie finally got to meet Superintendent John Deasy, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, no less. And Deasy announced that he would recommend to the board that the second-largest school district in the country stop serving flavored milk starting in July.

Now defenders of flavored milk say kids won't drink milk unless it's flavored. And maybe they won't if that's all they've ever known. (Many nutritionists will tell you there are other ways to get calcium and vitamins. And for the record, my own kid loves unflavored milk with the kind of passion that makes me suspect he's a covert lobbyist for the dairy industry.) But does it really make sense to feed kids something harmful in your attempt to feed them something healthful? Why not lace the carrots with Four Loko while you're at it? What's next? "My kids won't eat spinach unless I serve it in a giant glass of Coke" -- ???

In the middle of a diabetes outbreak and health care crisis, I just don't think we should spend our tax dollars to mainline sugar into children. Call me crazy, but if our health care system is going broke and kids are getting sick, maybe, just maybe, we should stop going out of our way to pump kids full of sugar every day at school. Goodness knows they're getting plenty of the stuff elsewhere.

It didn't look like many people cared when Jamie filled a school bus full of sugar to demonstrate how much sugar school kids consume. Only a handful of parents showed up for that televised stunt. But Jamie kept at it, organizing parents, cajoling them into handing out healthy lunches while wearing veggie costumes, and sending out an online petition that seemed to pop up on my Facebook page or Twitter stream pretty much every day for weeks.

Maybe the LAUSD was already considering getting rid of flavored milk. Maybe this was just an "easy" win to bolster the Food Revolution. Regardless, I'm impressed. While Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is, ultimately, a form of entertainment that manufactures a lot of drama for the ratings, you have to admit -- it's actually making some significant change happen.

 

Image via Jamie's Pics/Flickr

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