Food for thought

October 7, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Posted in British Politics, Celebrity, NHS, Working Class Britain | 1 Comment
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I haven’t found the time to sit down and watch Ministry of Food yet, so I have no idea whether I’d be repulsed by Jamie Oliver’s supposed ‘patronising’ of the working classes or impressed by his idealism. I do agree with this comment that for all the cynicism about a wealthy celeb ‘slumming it with the chavs’, his intentions seem good and his approach – however meddlesome, intrusive & embarrassing it might be for the show’s subjects – seems considerably more effective than the hand-wringing warnings of health ministers. On the question of whether it’s freak-show TV, I think it’s wise to consider someone’s past record, and on that basis I think Oliver deserves a pass: his Fifteen restaurant chain, which sprang from a show where he hired 15 kids from deprived backgrounds and taught them how to work in hospitality, was an impressive achievement. Very few people in his industries have made a fortune for themselves whilst trying to persue some measure of positive social change, and for that he deserves credit.

I’m writing solely from favourable reviews here, but the show’s concept appears to be as much of a social documentary as ‘Breadline Britain’ ever was, and by occasionally panning away from the core focus on unhealthy diets, you’re made aware of the kinds of connected issues about education & deprivation that simply don’t get the kind of serious discussion they deserve. Going even further, it also raises more esoteric issues about the role of the state in tackling obesity, the future of the NHS, and whether the progressive left has the answers for any of the above.

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