Jamie Oliver: Food revolution

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You know him as the Naked Chef. Jamie Oliver is a bit of a pioneer in the world of healthy food, and has tirelessly attempted to change school dinners in the UK. He also had a TV show in the USA called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, where he attempted to educate areas of America about food and nutrition.

He stands for no crap. That’s no crap on your plate, and generally no crap whatsoever.

So, what’s his food revolution all about?

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

Jamie says: “We’re losing the war against obesity in the U.S. It’s sad, but true. Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s time for change. It’s time for a Food Revolution.

“Since I’ve been working in America, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come out to support the Food Revolution. More than 630,000 people have signed the petition, over 300,000 of you subscribe to our newsletter and thousands of you have written to me. The only message I keep hearing is that you believe your kids need better food, and that you want help to keep cooking skills alive. That’s why this Food Revolution matters.”

He says that the problem stems from the loss of cooking skills at home and the availability of processed foods at every turn, from the school cafeteria to church function halls, factories and offices. This Food Revolution is about saving lives by inspiring everyone: moms, dads, kids, teens and cafeteria workers to get back to basics and start cooking good food from scratch.

I agree, and I’ve not been entirely great about it myself in the past — hand on heart. I eat so healthily now, but I didn’t always and for the first five years of my son’s life he ate breakfast, lunch and supper at nursery so I didn’t really cook for him or see what he ate. When he was very small he had pureed sweet potato, apple, parsnips etc, but as he got older he got more fussy.

When we came to the States the food shocked me just a bit — and we experimented with stuff. Some of it was good and some of it sucked (corn dogs …!) and I realized that I had let things lapse with my son’s eating. Oh, I believe in treats but I realised that, other than potatoes and forcing carrots down him, my son was by-passing on the veges.

So I changed it up. I got him interested in food and nutrition — after all, I am now a qualified nutritionist because of my passion about healthy eating. It seemed kind of ironic that the nutritionist’s child is the one avoiding vegetables, so that had to change. The thing is, he knows what is right and what is wrong, and as we cook together and eat together more, and I share the knowledge of food that I have and we talk about what foods are healthy, and which ones aren’t, things have changed. He gets it. He might not always like it, but he understands and I allow him to make choices. But, I also allow treats, because I also think creating a culture of denial can have repercussions.

So, I’ve been accepted as a Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassador for Columbia, MD. This is great news.

My role is to “make a difference by connecting with the community, through schools, restaurants, local businesses, farmer’s markets and beyond.”

food ambassadorFood Revolution is about inspiring change in people’s food habits and promoting the mission for better food and food education for everyone. How marvellous! Do I get to meet Jamie and stand with placards in the school playground? I do hope so! I love a mission!

The candy at school drives me nuts. They get it at all sorts of events: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s. I even saw PopTarts as a snack in a private school he went to. WTF?!!! This month I’m going in to my son’s current school to find out what foods are being given to the kids and to see what choices they make, and I’ll be on hand to educate them. My son’s already planning his menu. I’ll also be running an education programme at Howard County Food Bank about making better choices. It will be very interesting to work there and see the challenges of being healthy on a budget.

There’s lots to be done, and I know it will be a long journey, but it will be fascinating, and if I can change a few families’ thoughts and habits about food and nutrition, or encourage a couple of kids to eat broccoli instead of fries, that would be a great achievement.

This TED talk by Jamie is inspiring. Watch it. And then go cook beetroot and spinach and fish. And think about the power of food.

More about what Jamie wants to achieve

Jamie wants to mobilize the response to the Food Revolution so far and turn it into a movement for change in which America leads the world. It will bring together millions of people and inspire the nation to fight obesity with better food. At its heart is a powerful strategy to get people cooking again. Here are some of the ways we’ll be doing that:

  • More cooking at home
    • A nationwide network of community kitchens where anyone can go to learn basic home cooking
    • Jamie’s home cooking course
  • Freshly cooked meals at school
    • An activist program to support parents who want better food in their child’s school
    • A community website to encourage grass-roots activities for change all over the US
  • Cooking in the community
    • The Food Revolution truck, a mobile food classroom and flagship center for the Food Revolution
    • A cooking course available in church halls, community and healthcare centers and the workplace
  • Schools and Communities — to inspire and educate parents, carer-givers, young adults and children through:
    • Freshly cooked meals in schools and colleges
    • Cooking lessons for kids at school
    • Lessons teaching basic food skills to healthcare and social care professionals
    • Cooking classes for the public in the community
  • Corporations – to promote culture change and encourage community investment on several levels:
    • Food industry – help to tackle obesity by producing better food products and labeling products in a more honest way
    • Healthcare sector – investing in future health means cost savings down the line
    • Employee health – provide better food for employees in company canteens and provide cooking classes for employees to give them the skills they need to be healthy