Doing it for the kids

Jamie Oliver

You either love him or are a little lukewarm to him.  But personal opinions aside, you’ve got to hand it to him.  When it comes to a passion for changing the health outcomes of kids today, Chef Jamie Oliver is your man.  He’s been at it in the UK for 7 years with Jamie’s School Dinners and his global Fifteen restaurant project, including my home town Melbourne, that provides young people interested in hospitality a lucky head start.  While some argue that he is a clever showman and a tad naive, he’s proven that he’s in it for the long haul and after far more than fame and publicity.  At 34 years young and father to three girls with food inspired names, Jamie has plenty of energy left to take on his biggest challenge yet – kids born in the USA.  But to quote him directly, “If America does it, other people will follow.”  And you know what?  In my opinion he is absolutely correct.  And that’s why I will be closely following the success of Jamie’s Food Revolution.

Jamie’s Food Revolution

For those US friends and colleagues not yet familiar with Jamie, please make time to get to know him and check out the premier – Friday March 26, 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET on ABC:

In the series, Jamie heads to Huntington, West Virginia – which has been called the unhealthiest city in America — to start his new cooking initiative. He hopes to help get Huntington off that list and start a chain reaction of positive change across the country. Jamie says, “The time is right for people to rediscover the sense of pride, satisfaction and fun you can get from cooking for the people you love. There’s an incredible community in Huntington, and I want this experience to be a celebration of what we can achieve when people come together. I want to prove that turning around the epidemic of obesity and bad health doesn’t have to be boring or dull in the slightest. Wonderful stories will unfold in Huntington, and hopefully this will inspire the rest of the States.”

And the 2010 TED Award goes to….Jamie Oliver

But is this simply another reality-style TV show?  No.  Why?  Because on February 11, 2010 Jamie was awarded the prestigious TED Prize which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.  TED is a non-profit community of some of the world’s most influential “thinkers and do-ers”, and previous TED Prize winners have included Bono, Bill Clinton and Dave Eggers. The prize is $100,000 to go towards current social projects as well as a “wish” – the TED community pledges to help make the wish come true.
In his wish, Jamie called for the foundation to inspire a nutrition revolution through communication, education, social networking and by challenging corporate America and the food industry to help transform the culture of junk food into a culture of healthy eating.
And this was Jamie’s wish:

“I wish for the TED community to create a movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and bring people together everywhere to fight obesity,” said Jamie. “My hope is that millions more people will learn, as so many have already, that it is a happier, healthier life that is built around eating good food, together with family and friends.”

Watch Jamie’s inspiring acceptance speech:

It also conveniently coincides with that other little MAJOR announcement by the First Lady Michelle Obama, the launch in February of the Let’s Move initiative to combat childhood obesity.  Read a summary of the Let’s Move campiagn here by my colleague Janet Helm RD.  To quote Janet Helm RD:

“I think it’s important to show support for an effort like this.  It’s easy to be critical or cynical, but it’s going to take us all working together to make a difference.  As Mrs. Obama said, “it won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but we know the answers….We can decide to solve this problem.”

I echo these words.  We need to stop talking and take action.  And if Jamie is prepared to have a go along with Mrs O, I’ll support him every step of the way.  You can too:

Jamie is on his way downunder for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and has a whole lot more on his plate for you to check out.  This includes one of the most beautifully published magazines I’ve seen in a longtime. Here’s a sneak peek from the latest issue to whet your appetite.  So are you a Jamie fan?  Have you been to any of his events?  Restaurants?  What’s your favourite Jamie recipe?  Love to hear your comments below.

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