Jamie Oliver on Food, Kids, and Death


I recently caught the first few episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on TV. (British guy doing a cooking thing? Sign me up!) Oliver's show chronicles his attempt to change the food culture in Huntington, West Virginia -- starting in the schools, and also going into the community directly, working with families, teaching people to cook, and so on. Why Huntington? Because the CDC says it has the highest rate of obesity in the US. What happens on the show? Judging from the first few episodes, Oliver is met with anger, resentment, but most of all ignorance about eating habits. Now, I'm not saying this is a problem specific to Huntington -- I've been to Huntington (my family is from West Virginia) and it's an American city like any other. But it's honestly appalling to see Oliver quiz kids on what various foods are (like tomatoes and potatoes -- he shows them to a classroom and asks "Does anyone know what this is?") and discover that the kids have no idea what "real food" is.

In this TED Talk, Oliver talks about his work on educating people about food. He discusses his work in England (most notably on school lunch programs), and presents a series of alarming statistics and real-world examples of people dying from diet-related diseases. Because Oliver's wheelhouse is school food programs, he spends a lot of time talking about that stuff -- and it's amazingly bad. "Pizza for breakfast, anyone?"

Representative quote: "Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the US right now, here, today." And it's preventable. This talk is smart, simple, and very alarming.