He’s a chef, author, restaurateur and TV personality who has launched a food revolution, bringing healthier eating to communities, schools and homes across America and his native U.K.
Now Jamie Oliver has created Food Revolution Day, “a global day of action for people to think about where their food comes from and get back into their kitchens,” that will take place May 19.
“There are so many incredible people working on this issue, so we wanted to provide a platform for anyone with skills and knowledge around food — chefs, gardeners, food bloggers, food educators, etc. — to offer experiences/events (classes, seminars, tours, sessions) to kick start a real food movement in their community. They can go to the website and create a local food event and it will be in our global event listings for the public to attend. It can be an event for five people or for 50, and the more creative the better. We hope that this will inspire future projects at a grassroots level and connect neighbors who can support each other in standing up for real food,” Oliver says. “The other way that people can get involved is to host their own dinner party. There will be people in over 45 countries around the world hosting their own dinner parties in support of food education.”
For Oliver, who sums up his food philosophy as “Better food, better life,” has made it his life’s mission “to get people to eat real food, made from scratch. I believe — and research has shown — that by eating a diet of real food (meats and vegetables, carbohydrates and the occasional treat) that you cook for yourself and your family will make you a healthier person. When I look around the world at the rising rates of obesity and diet-related disease, I am saddened and angered because this is entirely preventable. People just need food education and a few cooking skills.”
He’s proud that his television programs and campaign initiatives have produced tangible results and inspired people to make changes in their lives.
“After ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ aired in the U.K., the people petitioned the government to serve better food to our children and they actually listened and voted more than $500 million into the system. In America, after the ‘Food Revolution’ aired, we inspired people to petition against flavored milk and pink slime in our schools, which not only got the USDA to change the regulations around flavored milk, but led fast-food companies and grocery stores to stop selling pink slime.”
Although he encountered bureaucratic red tape and resistance while making “Food Revolution,” he nevertheless considers it a win. “Just getting the ‘Food Revolution’ series on national prime time television was an accomplishment, but then to have the entire town of Huntington [West Virginia] transform and getting Los Angeles on the journey is a huge deal. We've started a national dialog around food issues that many more people in America are participating in part because of exposure to our shows and campaigns. And winning an Emmy was pretty cool, too.”
Currently, Oliver is running a restaurant empire that includes “Three Fifteens, one Barbecoa next to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, two Union Jacks with Chris Bianco, and 31 Jamie’s Italians, which I hope to bring to the USA at some point.” His latest print effort is the U.S. version of “Jamie’s Great Britain,” due out in October. “It is my love letter to British food, and I am hoping after everyone falls in love with the country after the Summer Olympics that they will want to give the food a try too,” he says.
As a father of four, Oliver keeps the food he serves at home and at his restaurants local, sustainable and impeccably sourced. “A lot of what we eat at home comes straight from the garden so that helps, particularly from this time of year right through until Christmas when there's plenty to harvest. As for the restaurants, we source everything very carefully so we know all about the food provenance. We go to all the farms to check on the animal welfare and we always use higher welfare chicken, for example.”
Looking ahead, he plans to “keep doing what I’m doing, raising my family, writing books, making telly, and making noise around issues that I believe in,” Oliver says. He has a simple solution for improving the food situation, and it starts with us. “Demand better,” he says. “More fresh, less processed. More access to good fresh food and food education so that the lovely people at home actually know what to do with a fresh vegetable.”
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