Jamie Oliver’s New Food Revolution

By Michelle Edelbaum, "Jamie Oliver’s New Revolution," September/October 2010

Britain's "The Naked Chef" talks about his show, obesity and kids' health.

What would you say to critics of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, some of whom said your show is “helping America make fun of itself”? Certainly at no point was this show ever meant to make fun of anybody. The show is about choice, and to make good food choices people need to know more about their food: what’s in it, where it comes from and how easy it can be to cook with fresh, rather than processed, ingredients. My hope is that the show empowers people to make better choices and lose weight and save a few dollars while they’re at it.

If you were President, what three laws would you pass to help curb obesity? I don't think you can pass laws to change human behavior, but you can make sure that children get a fair chance by making it illegal to target them with junk food and soda advertising the way the government has with alcohol and cigarettes. Nine times out of 10, kids will go for the sugary, rubbish option over something healthy, so it’s our job to guide them in the right direction. You can feed kids a healthy breakfast in the classroom and remove junky foods that have added sugars and preservatives from schools so they only have good foods to choose from.

If you were to make over the McDonald’s Happy Meal, what would it look like? I don’t know what a Jamie Oliver Happy Meal would have in it, but to be honest I don’t think Happy Meals are really the problem. People absolutely love them, and I’m not interested in changing or taking away anybody’s favorite treat. What really needs a makeover is the way we think about food so we naturally start to make better choices. Then Happy Meals are seen the right way: as something to be enjoyed every once in a while rather than every day.

You have three daughters under the age of 9. Is there a food you won’t feed them? I am not the food police. I grew up eating everything from fresh veg and fish to ice cream and cheap chocolate bars, and my girls are the same. They’ll try pretty much everything that my wife, Jools, or I cook for them. As parents, we can encourage our kids to try many different things and to help choose and prepare food. Hopefully they’ll build up their knowledge of flavors and grow up able to make better choices.

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