March 25, 2010

Oliver: If you don’t understand what’s in the ingredients, don’t buy it

Posted: 06:31 PM ET

Jamie Oliver is a world renowned chef, and host of a new TV series: "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" which premieres Friday on ABC.  The series focuses on the town of Huntington, West Virginia, recognized recently as the unhealthiest city in the US.  His crusade is to change that.

Oliver gave us a few moments to play 5 Questions.  Yesterday, we brought you part one of our Q&A.  Click here to catch up.

Now, here is the rest of our conversation…

LKL Blog: Americans are fascinated by chefs like you, yet Americans eat out frequently and don’t cook at home.  Why do you think there’s that disconnect? 

Oliver: It’s basically because the landscape, 7,8,9 times out of 10, offers you the same crap.  If you’re busy and don’t have time to cook, and the only thing in the high street is s*%t, then you’re going to eat s$%t, if it tastes all right.

If you’re poor, and have never been taught to cook at school or at home, and you’ve got kids screaming all around the place and you’ve got to feed them, they’re going to get the same pre-packed, pre-bought crap from the supermarket.  There’s nothing, as I’ve said, not even the milk escaped being played with.  The sugar is in there to make more people drink it.  It’s colored and flavored to do the same.  If you take salad dressing, it should have 3 or 4 ingredients in it, not 10 or 20.

The reality is people are getting ill.  Diet related deaths are the biggest killer in America.  You hear about murder and gun crime all the time; it’s not even on the radar in comparison as far as numbers are concerned.  Obesity, diabetes, drugs, all the cancers are massively impacted by lifestyle and diet.  I do think now is an incredibly important moment in time.  It’s a time when a great country that can put people on the moon, with people that are working ever harder, and paying for yet ever more stuff, I believe need to recognize and have help to recognize, the simplest thing of knowing how to cook, or shop.

My message really is give people the tools to make their own food.  Kids should be taught to cook at school.  They don’t need to learn loads, just 10 great recipes that will save their life.  I genuinely think that America’s going through what England’s going through, which is to kind of contemplation time of all the benefits of modern day life, with what was good and important from the past.  It’s very clear in the last 40 years you’ve gone from local food and largely fresh food, to probably 99% of the time not local food and probably nearly processed.  It’s as simple as that.  The health and death statistics have followed that graph to the “T” over the last 40 years.  It’s not a fluke, it’s not a phenomenon, it’s very clear.

That’s why I live the life that I do.  That’s often uncomfortable.  Often not pleasant.  And often means not necessarily being people’s best friends.  I’m a boy that grew up around food.  I don’t want everyone to be chefs.  I just want everyone to be sharp and look after themselves.  If you’ve got no money and you can cook, it doesn’t matter.  The best meals of my life have been in the poorest communities.   If you can cook, money doesn’t make any difference.  It just helps.

LKL Blog: If a mom or dad came to you and said, “I want to make one change to help my kid’s diet be healthier,” what’s the one change?

Oliver: I think a lot can happen with the shopping.  Obviously in the home, if you’re a family that buys lots of processed food and lots of snacks and fizzy pop and stuff – a lot can happen just by changing the way you shop.

If you look at the back of the packs, you don’t have to sit there and study it, but if you don’t understand what’s in the ingredients, don’t buy it.

If it doesn’t sound like pork, some herbs, some breadcrumbs – I mean you can have a burger, have a patty.  Have a pizza.  You can have, if you mix up a lot of foods that you love.  But there’s a lot of crap out there.

One of my big things is if you don’t understand what’s on that label, for God’s sake, don’t buy it.

LKL Blog: Does Jamie Oliver have a guilty food pleasure?

Oliver: I’m a chef.  My job is to learn and see and taste as many things – it’s my job.

Like you, I love pizza and I love burgers.  There’s many things I love, the same as anyone.  It’s just the only difference, really, is I don’t just have that every day of the week or three times a week.   And when I do have it, it will be a good one.  Or I’ll make it myself, which is always cheaper.

For me the turning point is knowledge.  If someone can cook, they are tough out there.  If they can’t cook, their choices and solutions are dramatically reduced.  And they have to live a certain way.

Filed under: Jamie Oliver • LKL Web Exclusive

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A. Smith, Oregon   March 25th, 2010 6:49 pm ET

Thanks to years of abuse by the horrific Republican lawmakers, layperson's have no idea on what is actually in the food they eat, nor if it is poisonous to consume.

The Republican led horrific Bush-Cheney administration gutted FDA inspectors to a very small few. Thousands of TONS of produce do not get even visually inspected by federal agents of the FDA much less chemically and biologically tested for hazardous heavy metals, toxic chemicals, dangerous virus's, and harmful bacterial organisms.

Do those good looking Carrots in the market contain any PCB's or a spoonful of DDT?

Does that Apple Juice contain E-Coli Bacteria?

Does that carton of Milk contain deactivated E-Coli Bacteria that is present after being radiated by Ultra-Violet lamps?

Does that savoring portion of fish contain harmful levels of Mercury, PCB's and Cadmium?

Very few people would come to realize they just got poisoned by eating 'good food' unless they suddenly came down with critical illness's that typically result from heavy metal poisoning, or toxic chemicals.

Republican lawmakers have fought tooth and nail against American consumers KNOWing that bottle of milk contains recombinant bovine Somatotropin, a Bioengineered Growth Hormone used to boost milk production (BGH) and looked the other way when their Corporate sponsors threatened huge lawsuits against States which wanted that information (Created by BGH) clearly labeled on Milk products.

Republican lawmakers have fought tooth and nail against American consumers issuing class action lawsuits against their Corporate sponsors that skirt FDA rules, regulations and pour ton's of contaminated food into America's supermarkets.

Healthy food that is labeled with as much information as possible about Bio Engineering, Tests for heavy toxic minerals such as Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Tests for carcinogenic chemicals such as PCB's, and inspection labels for E-Coli and other harmful Bacteria should be part of a majority of food produce packaging.

Joie Lake   March 25th, 2010 6:56 pm ET

How can we get into the schools basic training like knowing how to cook, or further, how to garden? Somehow that seems a bit more important up the 'food chain' in addition to math and reading.

Joe G. (Illinois)   March 25th, 2010 7:49 pm ET

It’s like.. You can’t go out, do drugs and sleep around with your friends tonight unless you finish eating your broccoli. And easy on the soda, it has too much sugar..

butterfly   March 25th, 2010 8:50 pm ET

Teaching children from a very early age about what a balanced daily diet is should be the main priority in a school curriculum today. Poor learning skills can often be a result of the lack of daily nutrients for young growing bodies. Let's hope that Michelle Obama puts this priority on her list to-do.

ahachem   March 25th, 2010 10:04 pm ET

i tought my children to read labels, the shorter the better, and i order produce from local farmers that grow without fertilizers and then in the summer i grow my own veggies and herbs, at least all dairy i buy organic, no soda in my house. It all starts with the parents.

Terry (NJ)   March 26th, 2010 12:10 am ET

I teach Nutrition and basic Cooking in a middle school. It has been recently dropped from the public school curriculum. Perhaps this show will help bring it back into the curriculum where we so need to teach it.

Donald L Allen   March 26th, 2010 2:53 am ET

I see how you or maybe you or the one how is doing the killing or you the mask murder how is being execution well that is or you the one instead is it you how is gilt well I believe they sued no be execution well it sued not happening cad if god four give than way want you hoe no we can all sum times lust or cool right if you or the judge than if you can send a sole to hell made you or the judge but I no what it like to be on the side of the being kill to so what I say is it right to judge and sued I not be there before you kill a Ines ,man do I not have the right to complain right so be you no See you Donald L Allen I had a dream did you

Leah S   March 26th, 2010 4:20 am ET

We need to make nutrition education a priority in schools so that students will accept healthier items when offered. Jamie is right that funding is key as well. School nutrition staff would like to be part of the solution, but start in the classroom so that when changes are made in the lunch program participation doesn't go down and students understand and appreciate what we are doing.

DL Nelson   March 26th, 2010 6:23 am ET

I'm an American who has lived in Europe for many years and was shocked at the people in the show with Jamie Oliver. I was raised with lots of fresh veggies, lots of stuff from the garden was canned by my grandmother, we all ate together. Now I think I would be a dinosaur. Even through the 80s in the States I fed my daughter the same way.

And although I don't grow my own food, I only buy veggies in season. Processed food never touches my shelves, not because I'm wonderful, but because the fresh stuff is so much better. i am waiting for the first cherries of the season and asparagus is appearing at my green grocers.

What happened to America that they know so little? Jamie, you are doing a great service to improve the health of America.

Melissa   March 26th, 2010 6:50 am ET

Nutrition needs to be taught in school but it also needs to be reinforced at home otherwise it won't work.
If you think it is expensive to buy fruit and vegetables and opt for that quick cheap burger...think about the long-term health implications. Dealing with the health implications (obesity and all the problems that come with it) is MUCH more EXPENSIVE in the long run. Let us each take some responsibility for driving down health care costs and start with what we are eating and putting in our bodies each day.
Also, our entire food system needs to be redone. I really do believe we are only just starting to see implications of all these chemicals. They system is based on supply and demand. If we stop buying this crap then it will send a message...When stores can't sell items it is going to create demand in other areas. The message is always tied to money.
You really are what you eat.

Melissa   March 26th, 2010 6:50 am ET

Nutrition needs to be taught in school but it also needs to be reinforced at home otherwise it won't work.
If you think it is expensive to buy fruit and vegetables and opt for that quick cheap burger...think about the long-term health implications. Dealing with the health implications (obesity and all the problems that come with it) is MUCH more EXPENSIVE in the long run. Let us each take some responsibility for driving down health care costs and start with what we are eating and putting in our bodies each day.
Also, our entire food system needs to be redone. I really do believe we are only just starting to see implications of all these chemicals. They system is based on supply and demand. If we stop buying this crap then it will send a message...When stores can't sell items it is going to create demand in other areas. The message is always tied to money.
You really are what you eat.

John Turenne   March 26th, 2010 8:56 am ET

Great points about Real Food! We are the Chef/Consultants working on the school food change in Huntington, WV since the fall. We find that there is a way to go back to simple, whole ingredients, one step at a time. The staff are great, they just need direction and support.
John Turenne
Sustainable Food Systems, LLC

kara   March 26th, 2010 10:59 am ET

Its about time someone outs the US for their lack there of on health and healthy food and living. Our culture is too dependant on frozen food. I doubt there is a child today that knows what fresh anyhthing looks or tastes like. Parents... you are KILLING YOUR KIDS! I think that this should be something that parents should be charged for, just as you can be charged for your kids missing too many school days. Its just sad that it took someone from a whole different country to care enough to try and change how lazy people are.

J.Allen Queen   March 26th, 2010 4:48 pm ET

Thank you, thank you, Jamie. I would like to dub your work in the United States as the Third British Invasion. Like, the Beatles, this invasiion is well received and I predict will change the way Americans and perhaps the world will view and address childhood obesity. I would like to commit to you that the leadership of our organization,
IMPACT Childhood Obesity, a school and community program, will strongly endorse your program and that all of our schools (principals and teachers) will sign the petition. Furthermore, we will contact every principal in the United States affliated with the National Association of Elementary Principals and encourage them to sign your petition. I also extend a personal invitation to our campus (Univeristy of North Carolina at Charlotte) on July 20 and 21 to address our national conference, Childhood Obesity: A National Dilemma as a keynote speaker. Keep up the great work

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   March 27th, 2010 7:46 pm ET

Please show a better picture of Jamie above next time. That one looks awful.

Everyone should be cutting down on the processed food. Have it in moderation. Fresh is best and there has to be a better balance.

People are also tempted by the fast-food places. Again in moderation.

You are what you eat to a large extent. People need to get educated about food and become more aware and pro-active.

Yes, the schools need to bring in education programmes about food and also healthful living. Something that will be of real benefit. Also, the parents need to get educated too.

Need to get back to basics and simplicity. I commend Jamie Oliver for what he is doing. He's getting real.

Louis   March 28th, 2010 1:49 pm ET

Yeah, Oliver if you don't understan what's in the ingredients don't buy it. Or get a degree in chemistry.

David M   March 28th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

How can we take this Revolution a step further in a couple of ways. 1) I love the grassroots approach to making changes in school lunch programs, there is no question this is a Revolution that will take root across the country. I'm intrigued by the potential ... how can we combine this with other efforts that are gaining publicity? Last week I built the shell for an organic garden I am building with my kids in our backyard. Part of this came from looking at how Michelle Obama has created a garden on the grounds of the White House. Why can't we combine these two initiatives. Most every school in the U.S. has a recess program. Why don't we set up gardens on the grounds of public schools where kids can not only participate in growing some of the foods in their school lunch program, but also take these learnings home to build their own gardens at home. I believe there would be lots of persons with gardening expertise who would come out of the woodwork to develop and educate our youth on the powers of growing your own food. Let's Move and the Food Revolution need to join forces.
2) School lunch programs are just the beginning of what the Food Revolution can turn into. Thru Jamie's help it's spreading into the home kitchens of families in Huntington. However, not everyone eats at home. There are millions of American's, who thru busy schedules, eat out of home far too often. Thru years of habitual behavior, they have been programmed to do so. We also need a Fast Food Revolution. Innovation that will create food that's better for you within our existing Fast Food providers. I'm part of a start up group that hopes to be a part of this revolution which could have a major impact on Foodservice as a whole.
BTW ... Looking forward to watching on ABC tomorrow night and keep up the good work. D

Karen Peterson Dietitian RD LDN CDE   March 29th, 2010 10:23 am ET

I think that its a wonderful that you are going into the school and changing the way the cooks are cooking food items. Plus getting rid of the processed foods. But, there is one key ingredient missing, a Registered Dietitian. It still comes to calories in and calories out to help children loose weight. An obese child and their parents still should be sent to a Registered Dietitian. I would be glad to calculate the calories/protein in your menu items and post them so the children can view and learn about portion size.

maryanne   March 29th, 2010 8:13 pm ET

it's safe to say that the task force that gave schools the byzantine regulations that produce a product called potato 'pearl's' and that resembles poured concrete...should not be in charge of school food 2.0.

haven't we learned that all that nutrition garbage is not working!!! and usuallly just a front piece from some marketing/lobbyist/spin team.
just good homecooking with real food that is fresh. No three ring binders required!

M Tyree Arizona   March 31st, 2010 4:51 pm ET

We do not the First Lady telling us how to eat. We are all adults. We are capable of setting an example to our childeren on our own.

The First Lady is an extention of the president. The president loves to be incontrol of our lives. When will big brother leave us alone?

Mariaeleana Perkins   April 10th, 2010 10:12 am ET

Hormones being injected into cattle to increase milk production and fatten up animals so that they produce more meat for market. Think about it people. When those hormone pass through the food source with the intent of beefing up the meat and milk production then it gets passed on to us...what do you think it is doing to us. HFCS is not okay in moderation because it is in just about everything you eat and drink. If you are not reading the labels of the food you buy you are ingesting way too much of stuff that is making and keeping the gen pop fat. I took to heart words my very wise and ahead of his time father imparted to me in about 1978, when I was just a teenager. "The less ingredients a produc t has the better it is for you." When my kids were babies in the early to mid 80s I read baby food labels and saw how much sodium was in baby food back then. I made my own. I would read labels of frozen prepared foods with a laundry list of ingredients and came to the conclusion that if people actually read the ingredients of these foods there wouldn't have a frozen food industry. I know organic and all natural are ironically more expensive but the taste is actually better and it is healthy for you. I go without a lot of stuff so that I can afford to buy better quality healthier items. In the summer I grow some of my own veggies and I have started making my own breads and pizza crusts without a machine. Its alot easier that I thought it would be and my homemade pizza is so much better than frozen or pizzeria pizza. I almost never buy pre-made pizza anymore. We need to get wise about what we are putting in our mouths. I commend Jamie Oliver in his efforts to educate people about their food choices. i jumping on his bandwagon. Kudos to you, Jamie.

LAURA   April 16th, 2010 1:27 pm ET

i am sure the republicans are to blame also for frozen dinners, mcdonalds, burger chains, taco bell etc..... blame them for the volcano errupting & stopping all the air traffic in europe too!! oh ya they are also to blame for all the preservatives & pestasides in our food give me a BREAK oh let me put down my double whopper w/ cheese and take a drink now of my xtra large coke so i can have my xtra large order of frys and down my shake for deserrt mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm oh thank you george bush !! for inventing fast food and crap that we cannot procnounce in almost 95% of all food in the grocery store

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