The rough ride continues in Food Revolution episode two: Jamie Oliver has opened one of his cooking centers in town (free for the locals) and humbly invites members of the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) -- which still won't let him into a single school -- to stop by. Blank stares say that's not happening. "I haven't even got a glimmer of hope," he says. "Which means, it's war."
In this war, Jamie's army might be confused with the Fruit-of-the-Loom brigade. Donning a tomato costume, Jamie enlists parent volunteers -- outfitted in banana, strawberry and carrot -- and roams the school-bound streets with free food, t-shirts (that read "Feed Me Better" and "Let Jamie In") and flyers to get parents to contact the LAUSD themselves. Then, natch, the community firestorm begins: "We're teaching our kids to be diabetic, when we train them to eat pizza," one mother in her strawberry war garb tells Jamie. And more than 745 parents send emails to the board, including a particularly powerful one: "I urge you to search your conscious. If you have nothing to hide, then let him in."
Suddenly, Jamie gets an email from a school that offers him a giant loophole. The West Adams Preparatory High School, under a special MLA partnership with LAUSD, has some freedom to build its own curriculum and function atypically -- but to a limit, Jamie finds. The school admits its staff is risking their jobs by letting Jamie in, and are aren't allowed to give him access to the cafeteria, but he is given a room to hold cooking classes. "We need him here," says Chief Executive Officer Mike McGalliod, who was impressed with the Revolution's first season.
On to battle two: the fast-food drive-thru. Jamie meets with Dino Perris, owner of burger joint Patra's, and strikes a deal -- but not without Perris standing in the parking lot dropping some f-bombs. He finally allows Jamie to develop a menu alongside the existing one. Staying within budget -- $4.95 is Dino's top-shelf burger -- Jamie develops a line of "Revolution" burgers made from chuck and 10-percent fat and topped with such revolutionary condiments as squashed sweet potato puree, charred chiles and pinto beans. A test drive on the streets proves the townspeople approve and, with price open to suggestion, are willing to pay up to $15.
While Jamie weans Dino off processed milkshake syrup with some fresh strawberries and trains the staff on the new burgers, Dino's customers devour them. He also learns, while designing a new logo for Patra's, that Dino's predecessor, his father, passed away from heart disease. "But you understand, that's why I'm doing what I'm doing," Jamie says.
Back at West Adams, before breaking out a burrito demo as newly appointed Culinary Arts Teacher, Jamie inquires about family health with the ten students who show up. Seventeen-year-old Sophia shares that her 13-year-old sister is diabetic -- in fact, her whole family suffers from the disease, and she's afraid it's an inevitability for her, too. After whipping up lunch, Jamie asks: "Do you realize what you've gotten yourselves into? Do you know what activists are?" And so the Revolution army of season two is formed. "First time in two weeks, I feel optimism and it's from the LA youth," he says.
But all is not over. LAUSD terminates his filming contract over the weekend. And if he goes into the West Adams school, there will be cops there, they tell him. Jamie laments, "So here I am with a basket of vegetables, pulling up to campus. My kids say, 'Daddy don't get arrested!'....Oh, there is a police car." Luckily, West Adams' McGalliod works out a deal, but there's a catch. Jamie's not allowed to talk about school food or how the kids feel about it, and is only allowed to work with 150 kids. Huh?
"This country was founded by your people fighting my people for freedom and democracy and I can't even talk to a kid about their food," says Jamie. "It's not right, and it's not in the interest of the children." Gentlemen, grab your muskets.
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution airs Tuesdays at 8/7c but the real fight is brewing on abc.go.com, where you can sign the petition for better school food.