Obesity Hurts Everyone
"I wish for everone 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."
This is Jamie Oliver, an English Chef. He has started a "food revolution" to change the way we Americans -- and the world -- eat. For his efforts he was given a TED Wish Prize.
I listened to his TED talk from 2010, when he was awarded his Prize. He begins his talk with this shocking statistic: "In the next 18 minutes... four Americans will be dead from the food they eat."
Mr. Oliver talks about the power of food, and the awful reality that our children will have a ten-year-shorter life-span than we do because of the food landscape that has been built around them. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Diet-related diseases are the biggest killers in America, and that trend is spreading around the globe. Those diseases cost $150 billion per year in America to treat, and those costs are growing.
Mr. Oliver speaks of the food landscape as a triangle--Main Street, School, and Home.
First, Main Street. This is primarily made up of fast food businesses and supermarkets.
He would like to make sure these industries, who have actively worked to get our society addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, turn things around and wean us off of those things. He advocates government and industry working together. He also has an interesting idea about the role supermarkets should play.
Mr. Oliver calls for a "Food Ambassador" in every supermarket to teach consumers how to shop, how to cook simply and easily, and how to change the unhealthy habits of Americans. Unfortunately, what we see now in markets are "sample ambassadors" of convenience products chock-full of salt, sugar, and fat. He also is a very big advocate of helpful, informative labelling of all products.
Mr. Oliver talks of the huge need for our schools to not only provide much more healthy breakfasts and lunches for our children who eat at school, but for the schools to be food educators. He says, "We have got to start teaching our kids about food in schools." He suggests that every child should learn how to cook at least 10 recipes from fresh, local ingredients before they graduate from school.
Wouldn't this be great for school lunches? Unfortunately, most school meals are not prepared and cooked at the school--everything is just reheated fast food.
And then there is the chocolate milk! Mr. Oliver poured out a wheelbarrow full of sugar cubes, which equals the amount of sugar a child would consume by drinking just two cartons of chocolate milk each school day over 5 years of school.
He also talks about getting communities involved through providing free cooking lessons, organizing farm to school programs, and community gardens. Businesses should support these programs, as well as making healthy food available for their employees, rather than just standard vending machine fare.
And then there is the third part of the triangle, home. Mr. Oliver advocates going back to cooking more at home and especially to teaching children how to make fresh, healthy meals.
It takes a little more thought and planning, but I think Jamie Oliver's vision for a healthier American is within reach. What will you do this week to combat the obesity epidemic in America?
will take you to the 19-minute TED talk from Mr. Oliver.
At Lassen's we try to encourage healthy eating and cooking. Keep watching for recipes and specials in this place!