By Ken Tucker
Updated April 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT

This week, when most of the high school kids in Huntington, West Virginia, were offered french fries, pizza, or chef Jamie Oliver’s “home made spaghetti sauce [with] six or seven vegetables in there,” the majority chose the veggie sauce. Oliver exclaimed, “I can’t believe it!”

Neither could I. This was the first week of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution when I thought the conventions of reality-TV had finally overtaken the documentary truth the series has been trying to portray. The change in youth behavior was just too abrupt, based on what we’d been shown previously.

Which is to say, it may have been irresistible for many of those students to choose the “right” line while in the presence of the TV cameras.

So what, you say — whatever the motive, the kids were eating better, right? Well, that kind of goes against what Oliver claims he wants to instill: Knowledge and a genuine desire to eat healthily after the Food Revolution production company packs up and leaves town.

Oh, well. Oliver had bigger fish to fry… or fleece. Jamie needed $150,000 to continue his fresh-food supply, and he appealed to local bigwig Doug Sheils to donate the money. Sheils and a group of West Virginia business-people heard the chef’s spiel, and then expressed their reservations — specifically, that the ABC series’ constant labelling of Huntington as the most unhealthy city in America (a claim based on a 2008 Associated Press story cited when the show first premiered) was giving Huntington a bad national image.

Hah! Doesn’t Sheils realize that withholding money because of concern for the town’s image over its health is a worse image to broadcast on national television?

Next week is the season finale of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. This week’s hour felt a bit padded (we get it, we get it: chocolate milk has more sugar than unflavored milk). But I’ll bet the final episode will have a lot of good food, good fights (come on, Alice, I know you can pick at least one more fight with Jamie, you wonderful woman!), and a good send-off.

What did you think of this week’s Food Revolution?

Would you choose a bison burger over a slice of pizza?

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