As we reported in our May issue, ParentsCanada is supporting Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. The British celebrity chef recently won the prestigious TED prize, annually awarded by members of the Technology, Entertainment and Design communities to a creative thinker. Besides $100,000, the prize comes with a wish. Jamie’s is to “create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” We recently caught up with
Jamie and asked him about his project in Huntington, West Virginia (deemed to be the unhealthiest city in the United States), which was the subject of a recent television miniseries.
ParentsCanada: How did you feel when you won the TED prize?
Jamie Oliver: Humbled. he TED Prize has gone to some incredible people over the years and so to be amongst them – wow! When I first heard the news, I wasn’t sure what I had won. The full force of it didn’t hit me until I got there and met all of the people who wanted to help me.
PC: Which came first, the TED prize or the Huntington experiment?
JO: TED called on the last day of filming – talk about ending on a high. But I don’t consider Huntington an experiment at all. Huntington is a television series but more importantly, it’s a metaphor for the challenges that all of us are facing to eat fresh food. I went to Huntington to make a lasting and positive change and think we’re on the right path.
PC: We like to think obesity is not as prevalent in Canada as it is in the U.S., but we’re not exactly skinny here either. What can Canadians learn from the people of Huntington?
JO: I think choosing fresh food over processed food and learning to cook a few recipes. I hope what I’ve done in Huntington has shown that having cooking skills gives you options – without them your choices are so limited and the food available to you and your family goes from bad to worse.
JO: It’s simple really. Over the last 40 years, we’ve lost touch with cooking, while convenience and fast foods have increased in popularity. Mums used to teach their kids but now mums have to go out to work and so that teaching is lost. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mums going out to work. I just think that if the governments are taxing mums, then some of that money needs to go back into filling that teaching gap and making sure their kids are learning about cooking and food in schools instead.
PC: Can you start us off with a fun hands-on way for parents to interest kids in healthier foods?
JO: Of course. Get them involved. Start by getting them to toss a little salad with their fingers. I call them “fairy fingers” – go light on the lettuces and toss them around the bowl. Or get them to play games identifying fruits and vegetables in the store. Kids love to learn new things. If you’re excited, they will be too.
Published June 2010