Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach Every Child About Food

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In this affecting video, TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver shares powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., and makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.

Jamie Oliver is transforming the way we feed ourselves, and our children. Jamie Oliver has been drawn to the kitchen since he was a child working in his father's pub-restaurant. He showed not only a precocious culinary talent but also a passion for creating (and talking about) fresh, honest, delicious food. In the past decade, the shaggy-haired "Naked Chef" of late-'90s BBC2 has built a worldwide media conglomerate of TV shows, books, cookware and magazines, all based on a formula of simple, unpretentious food that invites everyone to get busy in the kitchen. And as much as his cooking is generous, so is his business model -- his Fifteen Foundation, for instance, trains young chefs from challenged backgrounds to run four of his restaurants.

Now, Oliver is using his fame and charm to bring attention to the changes that Brits and Americans need to make in their lifestyles and diet. Campaigns such as Jamie's School Dinner, Ministry of Food and Food Revolution USA combine Oliver's culinary tools, cookbooks and television, with serious activism and community organizing -- to create change on both the individual and governmental level.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the "Sixth Sense" wearable tech, and "Lost" producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts.

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Jamie, as always, is inspirational and as a Brit and as a teacher who also teaches health to my kids here in a DC public school, his message is timely and spot on... I made the commitment to be a vegetarian 30 years ago and yes, I advocate vegetarianism to my kids as a personal choice, but more importantly, I advocate for them to be critical of anything they put in their bodies, whether it be meat or not, drugs (including tobacco), or the physicality of sex... fast food establishments have become the real ghettoisation of the inner-city here in DC, sharing the same street corners as the liquor store, shop-front church, and now the âurban" Starbucks, etc...

our school system received a 47% on the cafeteria food report card last year, last of every state in the country and despite 4% gains in academic achievement (touted by the Chancellor and the Mayor), conveniently they forget to tell you we are also still last as compared to every other state, and in inner-city comparative standardized tests, we came 15th out of the 15 inner cities measured- the correlation between diet and academic proficiency, and the common denominator- the individual child and their choices/decisions, is unarguable ... despite the fact our kids are entitled to free breakfast, two-thirds of my kids never eat breakfast, the most important meal of their day in terms of physiology and also academically- our school lunches do not list the ingredients on the bottom, are not even eaten by the supervisors who come to assess the food standards in the school, and are so processed, the artificial smell of food heating up or lingering after lunch makes you nauseous...

because I have a three-inch thick book of Physical Education (sports-related/technique oriented) standards and a one-and-a-half inch book of Health Education (sex education/drugs awareness) standards it is literally impossible for me to cover the first task, let alone the second, and between the two, any physical fitness/nutrition allied standards are minimal, but as Jamie points out, we are literally killing our children... I have a medium McDonalds fries sitting under a plastic dome in my classroom that was bought in October 2009 and it still sits there totally unblemished, with no signs of degradation or decomposition if only to demonstrate what must be on it or in it to so effectively prevent the normal cycle of decomposition and many of my kids eat that every single day...

we need help here- not another national initiative that appears to be a good idea but which glosses over the real issue (our kids do not understand food, never cook food, and are so âengineeredâ to sustain themselves on fast food or junk, have to be totally ârewiredâ), and not some so-called non-profit touting the latest âwe look good because we careâ message- I need a working kitchen- I need a Principal that allows me to teach cookery- I need a school system that supports an administrator to support my teaching kids how to read a label, plan a meal, and cook the meal, but that will never happen because we have a textbook-driven (read: publishersâ lobby-driven) mentality that because we are only judged by reading and math scores, then all our resources and efforts go to those two subjects- Science (such a great âinâ for teaching about food) and Social Studies (the perfect avenue to approach the culture of food and diet) are virtually never taught- teachers donât have the motivation (they never got it when they were at school) or the training (why do I want to try to teach something I have little background in if theyâre going to come in and evaluate me- better stick to what I know and can probably get a passing grade in), even though ironically 75% of the last benchmark reading assessments were science-related topics (and we go on about how important âbackground knowledgeâ is!)â¦

enough, Iâm sorry, too long, too loud perhaps, but our children are literally dying- 60% of elementary-school-aged kids in DC Public Schools are already obese- we have high percentages of kids with adult onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, and hosting scores of intrinsically-embedded cancer-causing agents before they even get to high-schoolâ¦

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

I hate this guy. He's a popped collar douchebag who's madly in love with himself.

joshua: thanks for adding your insightful comments regarding the motivations of a man you've never met who is trying to make the world a better place by helping the most vulnerable among us.


I hate this guy. He's a popped collar douchebag who's madly in love with himself.

You're kidding, right? If you bothered to read Hilman's comment you would understand how deep this problem is- he is trying to do something about it, you resort to personalized sexist insults. I bet you're another white American who shouts loud but does sweet FA to fix your own problem.


I hope he has more success in the states than he has had in the UK. Yes, he did get healthy food on the menu but the kids don't want to eat it.

Part of it is simply that fast food hits all the right buttons for children. My two are fed reasonably healthly at home but given a choice will always go for chips.

Unless you turn school catering back to the 60's/70's, with no choice in what is put in front of them and no packed lunches, it is very difficult to get the older children to change. That was one of his big problems in the UK TV series. He had to show quick results in the most visible age group, teenagers. Made for good TV but where he might have done better would be to write off the teenagers and concentrate efforts at the younger children, whose habbits are easier to change (an under 5 takes about 3 days to adapt to a new routine). If they are used to having healthy food at school, they then won't think anything wrong when they're given it as they get older.

David - one of the best things he did in the UK was make it a political issue. That way he got the government to sit up and take notice of the standards of school meals. Why not use his show to generate some local interest. Start by aiming at the local level, where politicians have small majorities and a few hundred "concerned citizens" can make a difference.

Finally, don't go for a completely healthy menu, a slightly unhealth pudding will always be remembered over a boring but healthy main course. I still love treacle pudding or spotted dick (put dirty minds away - it is a real pudding) with custard.

By Bob's Big Brother (not verified) on 16 Feb 2010 #permalink

Thanks Bob's Big Brother, points well taken, although the politics here in DC (not the Feds, but the actual city government) are dangerous, the epitome of talking the talk but no walk, and not representative of the residents but of itself... but I do have some tricks left!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 16 Feb 2010 #permalink


I'll be the first to tell you that Americans are fatasses.

As for me, I'm in excellent shape. In fact I've been told I was probably the healthiest profile the medical examiner had ever seen.

Jamie Oliver is still a media attention whore douchebag who yells at people.

nutshell meet problem

duh! "your own problem" did not refer to you but that of your community and society- how typically egocentric!

Your "slip" in using "medical examiner" as opposed to doctor is exactly what many of our kids will see first- the morgue before the waiting room.