Photo by skippyjon

We’re all a little tired of hearing about how obesity rates are soaring these days.


We turn on the TV, and there’s a new diet regime.
Some movie star is strutting around in a bikini for Jenny Craig. Pie charts and bar graphs show us that heart disease is the deadliest killer in the USA. Is any of this getting through?

Some people, like Britain’s Jamie Oliver, feel a revolution is needed now. Food Revolution is his reality show, and it takes place in Huntington, West Virginia where obesity runs rampant. The approach is simple: expose the truth, shock people and educate the masses.

Changing how we see food

Jamie points out that people have been manipulated by media hype such as colorful ads from both fast food restaurants and food packaging companies. Food is a vital part of our lives, for more reasons than the obvious. We use food to entertain guests, to discuss business matters outside the office, and simply for indulgence and pleasure. It’s also a beloved part of travel. These social habits quickly become a part of our daily routine and a source of comfort.

But when we start enjoying food in excess, it becomes a problem. Like Donna Simpson, a controversial woman whose sole ambition is to become the fattest woman in the world. Seriously, that’s her ambition. People actually pay money to watch her eat.

Food should be a part of your life, but not your whole life. Work with it. Meals don’t have to take a long time, anyone can cook, and fast food is not as cheap as you think it is.

So how do we start the process of change?

Photo by jonfeinstein

Food education starts with our kids

Jamie’s biggest winning point is education, beginning with kids. In his TED talk, Jamie stuns the audience by showing clips of him asking young children to name the vegetable he’s holding. One guesses that tomatoes are potatoes, and another has no idea what cauliflower is.

He stresses the fact that kids cannot possibly make healthy choices when they have absolutely no idea what good food is. We learn everything in school except nutrition and how to cook healthy meals. Why?

Later, Jamie meets with the school cooks to discuss the food being prepared for the kids. The cooks get defensive, insisting they just do as they’re told, but are unable to really identity any of the ingredients used in their meals. He also sits down with parents who feed their children a constant flow of junk food, emphasizing that for the first time in history, children will live for a shorter amount of time than their parents. Ten years.

If we’re leading this kind of example for our kids, what else can we expect?

Shock value, as proven by Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, is another educational tactic. During his TED talk, Jamie unloads a wheelbarrow filled with sugar cubes: the amount a child consumes in one year just from drinking flavored milk. We’re used to thinking milk is a wonderful thing, but just because it says “milk” doesn’t necessarily mean its healthy.

Making healthy decisions about food is the answer

Absorbing this knowledge is fine, but then you have to do something about it.

The best part about Jamie Oliver’s ambition is that as a professional chef, he’s able to offer real advice and recipes for a healthier lifestyle. He provides interaction for even viewers at home. All you have to do is log onto the ABC website and track down whatever dish tickles your fancy. How about a broccoli and squash medley, or some chicken chow mein?

That being said, a simple Google search for “healthy food recipes” returns enough results to keep yourself busy for weeks to come. Bon appetit.

Community Connection

What do you think? Are our food choices really as bad as we think, and can we start a revolution?