BY TISHIN DONKERSLEY, M.A.
“Living a life that is good for you and the planet” – a simple thought from a global thinker, Jamie Oliver. Healthy eating, fighting childhood obesity and sustaining cooking skills is at the heart of this chef. Today I threw on an apron and my apprentice hat, ready to learn more about how to help the community and improve the health of future generations.
Talk to me about your thoughts about the immense public health concern for childhood obesity.
Frankly, I don’t think there is enough public concern. Our governments – yours and mine – have done very little to feed our kids better. They haven’t really taken on the challenge of sorting out school food for good, and when brave politicians do stand up for our kids, like Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on giant fizzy drinks, they are immediately taken on by large industries and no progress really happens.
Share with me your philosophy on healthy eating vs. indulgence.
I’m not against being indulgent – who doesn’t love a bowl of ice cream or a hearty homemade burger? You just have to remember that it’s all about balance; you can’t eat this kind of food every day without feeling the effects. It’s about being streetwise about food, and if you’re going to have a treat for lunch, for example, then have a salad for dinner.
What is the catalyst we need for significant change in our communities, with regards to our food choices?
Food education. If people are armed with knowledge and skills, they will make better choices.
The love of cooking is one thing, but at your Ministry of Food program, chopping carrots to build a community is another. Tell us the difference.
The food Centres are about teaching people the basic skills they need to feed themselves and their families properly, for life. Food skills have been lost, and schools and families aren’t teaching them, so our Centres are doing that. We’ve been really successful in Australia, and I hope that we can mirror that in the US as well.
How can we build the Ministry of Food efforts in the US?
The Food Revolution is essentially the same thing. A grassroots movement to teach people about food and cooking.
How can parents get involved with your programs?
Easy – they can set a good example at home, cook and eat real food from scratch, and teach their children the basic cooking skills.
Is there anyone over in the US that you would consider a thought-leader in food?
There are lots of amazing people working in food in America – Alice Waters of course, Marion Nestle, Mark Bittman, my mate Morgan Spurlock.
Favorite dish you cook for your kids?
Depends on the day – they are pretty good eaters, and at the weekends we have lots of fun baking bread and making pasta together.
At the end of the day you want people to…
Make better choices about the foods they eat and really try to avoid the processed junk.
What is next for Jamie Oliver?
In the US, I have a new book coming out, Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain. There’s loads of other exciting stuff coming up too, and I’ll keep sticking my oar into stuff as well of course. I’m getting good at that.
Tell us the inspiration and motivation behind your new book “Jamie’s Great Britain” and how this cookbook has embraced the culture of Britain.
After years looking at and embracing the cuisines of other countries, I wanted to share the amazing food that my own country has been doing for the last 20 years.
The cookbook is old school and new school British food, and my take on everything in between. You’ll find everything from fish pie to fairy cakes. What’s great about Britain is that we’ve embraced so many different cultures and cuisines over the years that we now have this really beautiful eclectic mixture of the most wonderful food.