Fresh from winning the 2010 TED Prize, the U.K.’s most lovable chef Jamie Oliver is tackling America’s relationship to food on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, his ABC show premiering tonight. With the new series he hopes to change the way Huntington, West Virginia eats. Deemed the most unhealthy city in America based on obesity-related deaths and disease rates, Huntington shows the rip tide of unhealthy eating that Oliver hopes to change.
The accompanying book to the T.V. program and Jamie’s ideas, Jamie’s Food Revolution centers around his idea that you only need to know how to cook five recipes to instigate your own personal revolution and eat better.
Oliver, who rose to fame as “The Naked Chef,” applies the same straightforward approach as a chef and cultural influence, with the idea that if you “teach people about food and they will make better decisions.”
Despite Oliver’s enthusiasm and dedication to both good food and good living, the stories in the series illustrate just how difficult such this change can be.
In the show, Oliver brings an assortment of fruits and vegetables to a first glade classroom in Huntington. They easily identify french fries, but struggle to place potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and eggplant. This clear disconnect between fresh food and its overly processed mutations startles Oliver. The show chronicles these and other revelations as the chef attempts to educate and inform Huntington’s families and children about wholesome food. “Jamie’s Kitchen” plays a big role, providing residents with free education and cooking classes.
The effort and show follows Oliver’s similar program in the U.K., Ministry of Food, which sought to examine and revamp British school lunches. The results of his hard work? The U.K government allotted extra money toward their lunches, changed their nutritional requirements. and created a new initiative to champion fresher food. And, in what is perhaps the most symbolic accomplishment, all U.K schools now serve organic milk nationwide. By contrast, much of the milk consumed by American schoolchildren has added sugar, flavorings and is heavily processed.
Jamie hopes the show and cookbook will help spark change on a national level as well by educating people about the Child Nutrition Act, which is currently being rewritten. The goal is to help change these guidelines for school lunches to reflect healthier nutrition and fresher foods.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution begins tonight at 8/7 central on ABC, and runs for six weeks. Says Oliver in his TED speech, “I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”