March 25, 2010
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…
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.
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