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April 16th, 2010
05:49 PM ET

3 questions with Jamie Oliver

If you still think of Jamie Oliver as The Naked Chef, you have some catching up to do.

That show gave Oliver his start, but he has since become a crusader for healthy food for schoolchildren. Starting in a school cafeteria in the Greenwich section of London, Jamie’s campaign to change the way British schoolchildren eat took him all the way to the halls of Parliament, resulting in the British government committing 650 million pounds to improving the school food program.

Now, Oliver has turned his attention to the United States – and in particular, the town of Huntington, West Virginia, deemed the most unhealthy community in the country.

A series of six shows detailing his work in Huntington titled “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” is airing now on ABC. Sitting down with Oliver, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta had a chance ask him about his goals:

Gupta: The average person comes into a grocery store here in the states to buy food. Are we doing something wrong?

Oliver: I think one of the problems that we've got is, generally speaking soft drinks, in my experience are being consumed instead of any form of water. Snacking is just an unpoliceable meal – it's just whenever they want, and rarely has that much food nutrition. Really, it normally is largely based on sugar. And the meals, when you get around to them, will either be a [take-out], delivery, or processed boxed foods. There's nothing wrong with nugget per se, there's nothing wrong with a burger per se, it's normally when you get the cheaper versions, they've got all the other bits in them as well. I mean, something like a burger can be four ingredients but why is there 40?

Gupta: The thing I keep coming back to is that nobody wants to do wrong by their kids I don't think, so where is the problem here? Is there someone who wears a black hat in this whole thing?

Oliver: No I think the black hat to be worn is in education. We haven't done enough in England or America about food education for 30 or 40 years. If you understand the basics of food from an early age – if you have an open-mindedness about food because you've been exposed to a lot from an early age, then it allows you to make different decisions as you grow older and have your own kids. The families I've worked with that have massive problems – they don't not love their kids – they love their kids – they know they're all obese including themselves and they know all the problems – they've seen all the statistics, but they haven't got the tools to sort of shop or cook their way out of it really.

Gupta: People say they don't have time, people say they don't have money to eat well.

Oliver: Shopping is where you're going to spend the second-largest amount of money in your own life – other than your own house and your kids- but shopping is a massive bill in your annual spend. The families I worked with [spend] $150 a week. That's eight grand a year, and that's proper money. That is buying versions of all of these things- buying cucumbers, we're buying lettuce, leeks, potatoes. There are little tricks you can do in supermarkets: The minute they bag it up and grate it, they're gonna charge you for it. The minute you take erratic sizes, it'll be much cheaper. Whatever's in season and local will be cheaper and of course when they're doing deals and bargains – buy one, get this free – you might not want free. What's the point in buying them if you don't want free in the first place?

To see more of Dr. Gupta’s conversation with Jamie Oliver, tune in to “Sanjay Gupta M.D.” on CNN at 7:30 a.m. ET, Saturday-Sunday.


Filed under: Body Image • Children's Health • Weight loss

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Francesco

    You should show and learn from best in class examples around the world. For instance in Italy, as far as I understand, the ministry of education controls school meals (in US is just considered a side cost to minimize) and they have freshly cooked local and organic meals that would make a 5 star restaurant jealous. And best of all they do not have much higher budgets than here in the US!!!

    Last but not least the major paradigm shift must be to put food nutriition as a key investment in academic and not a cost to feed. It is proven that proper nutrition will enhance learning.

    April 18, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. www.beachbodycoach.com/neeeena

    I hope that all of us that agree with Jamie Oliver take steps within our circle of influence: friends, family, co-workers, etc. just to get us moving more and eating less processed foods. Farmer's markets & our own gardens would be the best but we can make much better choices at the grocery store as well. As mentioned, some people just haven't given it much of a thought because they trust in the food industry blindly, it's up to us to take notice and vote for better quality food, we vote with each dollar we spend at the store. Kudos to Jamie Oliver, his Food Revolution show is great (although the DJ and Alice were quite frustrating to have to hear!) I'm glad the DJ understood and came around. One person at a time!

    April 18, 2010 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chimey Nangchen

    HOORAY for Jamie! And HOORAY for his "British-ness" which is part of his charm! My favorite Grandson (and yes, we do have favorites...but don't tell) just graduated from High School last May. His goal all his life was to be in the Navy. He was a leader in his High School ROTC for all 4 years, and graduated with a very high grade average. The problem? The Navy won't take him until he looses 30 pounds! When he was a baby, We both ate a vegetarian diet. But when I when to India to study, Mum and Dad took a turn and it turned out to be the french fries and pizza thing. One big part was that they were stretched to the limit for money. The other thing was that Mum worked and didn't ever like cooking enough to do it even when she had the time. I could go on and on, but now he's not in school and working in a carwash! If it were not for his weight, he'd be in the NAVY and pursuing his chosen career! My heart breaks!

    April 18, 2010 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Wendy, TX

    STEP # 1 –
    ASK THE US GOVERMENT TO STOP SUBSIDIZING CORN!!!

    Google it to find out more!

    Read an "Omnivores Dilema" and watch the movie "Food, Inc." - if you just watch Food, Inc it will change the way you think about food.

    Fins local farmers markets, shop smart and local if you can!!! One person at a time is what it takes to really start a food revolution.

    April 18, 2010 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jennifer

    Am I the only one who was insulted by George? George: why don't you go cook that fresh chicken yourself???!

    I'm all for Jamie's show. ANY information on how we can combat childhood (and adult!) obesity that is also presented in such a high profile, public forum, is welcome!

    April 18, 2010 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RUKIDDING ME

    I work in the school system in the cafeteria...there is no money....we are short staffed....we offer a variety for the students to choose with fresh fruits and a salad bar as a choice, out of 600 students we are lucky to get 20 students a day eating salad bar...we try...the kids just won't eat it......It starts at home, take a look at what you give your children everyday ..make good choices at home then maybe they will make good choices outside the home.....don't blame the school system.

    April 19, 2010 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. larry wi

    In my younger days, fas food had not yet come into play, and living in the country in southern WI in the 1950's, and 1960"s there were no bakeries either, so no pastries. We only ate what we grew, and or raised, and if my mother or family members couldn't prepare it, we didn't have it. Our treat as kids, was aocassionaly on a Sunday, in the summer, my parents would take us to an ice cream stand, we could either get a cone or a glass of root beer, but not both, for each cost . 10 cents. In 1960 all of our local country schools were closed, and we now had to go into the city to go to school, and now we would be exposed to restaurants, that wqs differant, too bad we didn't have the $$ to go to them! Our first pizza place came to town in 1964, and by then I was in high school, and working part time, so I had $$ for pizza, and that was real treat. Oh yeah, we also gym classes when I was in the school system. Do you see the "now aday's problem here"? Healthy eating, physical labor, and activities were the key to health living, we didn't have soda's (pop) in our home, we had kool aid. The only soda's we had were from teh local pharmacy, and we could get cherry coke's, and actual sodas. Those were hard day's growing up, but we were a much healthier society!

    April 19, 2010 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RUKIDDING ME

    I work in a middle school and everyday we see students that can't count out the $1.50 for their lunch..let's concentrate on that problem...where is the uproar about this...

    April 19, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Maria H-Miami

    Dr. Gupta,

    I can see people following the advise of Robin Miller from the Food Network. She is a Nutrionist, has a Master's Degree in Food and Nutrition from New York University and has done work for The American Heart Association and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

    Why would anyone in their right mind listen to Jamie Oliver who is not a doctor, not a professional nutritionist, not a licensed dietician?

    What business does this guy have advising schools, people on what foods to feed children, adults, I'm not sure he even graduated from Westminister Catering College as no degree is listed for him?

    I hope soon our government steps in and stops this nonsense before the health of children, adults is endangered by this non-medical Chef and we end up with numerous Lawsuits in courts.

    April 19, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Nidhi Shekatkar

    GREAT JOB JAMIE!! This show is a great eye opener. I cook healthy food for my family but once in a while we do end up at a fast food restaurant. When I saw your show where you showed children how chicken nuggets are made, I was shocked and from that day onwards I stopped buying prepackaged chicken nuggets. Your show is changing my eating habits too. Thanks and keep on the good work.

    April 19, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. smilinggreenmom

    Love this! He is on an awesome mission and I am so excited as a green mom myself that awareness is being raised on such an important topic. Our family eats lots of whole foods and we only drink water, we also take our probiotics from Vidazorb to help our bodies process and digest all of our nutrients. I love living our life like this – and so does our entire family. Our kids enjoy the Farmer's Market and walking out in our back yard to pick a salad for lunch in the summer :) It is truly awesome to be a part of this movement and we are so thankful Jamie! My mom blog on healthy green living is smilinggreenmom.com

    April 22, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. giantslor

    I need to respond to a particularly misguided comment line by line:

    "Is anyone else out there a bit insulted that a guy from Britain comes over here to FIX us?"

    No. Why would we be insulted? Someone needs to fix us.

    "Aren't there folks in England who could use his help?"

    Yes, and he's already helped them. He's persuaded the UK government to adopt new school nutritional gudelines and increase spending on quality school foods.

    "Don't we have chefs, dietitians, and nutritionists in this country who could help folks in need of dietary education?"

    Yes, but they don't have the big vision, personality, or hit TV show that Jamie Oliver has. Jamie's show penetrates the mass consciousness.

    "This smacks of blatant commercialism at the expense of low income or uneducated Americans."

    You wouldn't think that if you watched the show.

    "Maybe the Boy Scouts or church groups could take it on as a group project. They could learn the facts first and then spread them around."

    Agreed! And Jamie's show is the thing that will likely motivate and educate them to take on such a project.

    "Of course, providing fresh food has to be economically feasible, which in some cases, it is not."

    Agreed, and that is why Jamie is leading a mass campaign of petitioning the government to increase spending on school nutrition.

    This show is great, and I hope it comes back for seconds!

    April 22, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Maria H-Miami

    Doesn't it scare you people to follow the advise of a guy who has no professional training in Food & Nutrition, Medicine?

    Jamie Oliver is a cook/Chef. He only attended Westminister Catering College and owns a bunch of restaurants.

    Great, so now we're going to end up having a bunch of kids and adults with medical problems thus causing an additional cost to our Health Care?

    Why not follow the advise of a doctor, a licensed nutritionist, dietician who take into account your individual medical/health needs?

    April 22, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Nancy

    I continue to be upset by the food that my grandson is fed in his preschool. It is rarely real food, mostly packaged fast stuff. It is not easy to pack a lunch for a child and have him eat it when all his friends are eating something else. Something that is being accepted by everyone else. I love Jamie's cookbook. My friends and family have scarfed up the recipes of his that I have served them. Keep up the good work. We need to create a stir in the school cafeterias.

    Thank you, Jamie
    Nancy

    April 22, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RobinLK in Orlando

    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in April 2006, at the age of 39. After seeing Food, Inc. last summer, it all became clear to me how I became an overweight kid, teen, and adult. Food "production" began 50 yrs ago in this country, as food 'farming and growing' began to diminish. Fast food, processed foods, TONS of sugar, salt, and fat – all staples of the American diet – continue to make our nation obese – in growing numbers. Jamie's idea isn't revolutionary to those of us who subscribe to "clean eating" and the slow food movement. However, if his voice can reach the masses, then call it a Revolution and let's get this 'healthy party' started! I deal with my diabetes daily and share that message through my blog, in an effort to help others avoid what's avoidable and be healthy, inside and out. Our kids deserve adults who will make healthy choices. As a 16 yr educator, I've seen what kids eat in school. Not so good. Diabetes turned me into a clean eater, a runner, and an advocate. Silver lining, I suppose. Go, Jamie! Let's do what's right fo rour kids!! http://www.RunningCirclesAroundTheTurtles.com

    April 23, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Elle

    As a resident of Wheeling, WV, upriver of Huntington 9and arguably poorer), I wish Mr. Oliver would visit. I live in the downtown part of Wheeling, home of hundreds of por kids and handicapped and senior citizens. what shocking is that perhaps up to 25% of these people live on food stamps, food pantries, and soup kitchens. I wish Mr. Oliver would visit here, to show us how we can make better food choices from, well, our food supply choices. The area is not without merits: within walking distance residents have a seafood store (that doesn't take food stamps), a vegetable market (that does), and now a family-owned vegan store to help us make our meals...and yet when I myself take a bus here, I ALWAYS see people get on who are so heavy they literally rock the bus getting on, and its becasue such healthy foods require other ingrediants that are awfully heavy when carried home on the bus. So people here live meal to meal getting more unhealthy with every bite. I mean, if you're starting out heavy and therefore unhealthy, the healthy stuff is just too plain hard to bring home on a bus. Mr. Oliver, your follow-up comments would be more than welcome! Thank you!!

    April 24, 2010 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Shakeira

    Hi, I am a sophmore at Girard College,and I want jamie oliver to come to my school. Most of the time a lot of us order out because this is a boarding school, and we stay here all week, some people don't go home on the weekend either. But, if we had healthier and better tasting food we could become a healthier community!!

    May 4, 2010 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Maria H-Miami

    Dr. Gupta,

    I think that as a Doctor you should represent the well-being of children, you have the power to protect children above all and that includes College kids as they don't have experience to make wise decisions.

    I respect you greatly and you are my hero, I saw you in action in Haiti and I believe that above all you're goal is to protect, heal regardless of what surrounds you.

    You and all of us need to protect kids. But you have the power to do so and that means you standing up to Jamie Oliver's non-professional food guidance.

    Jamie Oliver should be willing to sign a Legal Agreement with every student he approaches that as NON-LICENSED DIETICIAN, NON-LICENSED NUTRITIONIST, NON-MEDICAL DEGREE he will take full FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY for the food guidance he gives the student, their parents, that may cause that student a medical condition.

    Jamie Oliver must be held legally responsible for failing to have students, parents first seek guidance from a Doctor because of any medical condition that student may suffer from that requires that student, child, kid to follow a particular food program due to illness or because of the activity level the student maintains.

    Parents are vulnerable as they want to do what is best for their children and sometimes get taken by the Celebrity persona.

    May 4, 2010 at 10:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Christina

    I am from England and have seen first hand the impact Jamie has had over the past few years, before Jamie overhauled the school dinners it was a standing joke about how bad they were, but nobody did anything. Now the kids all rave about how good the dinners are and the children who have dinners has doubled. They teach children about nutrition from as young as 5 and now my daughter lectures me on what we should be eating it has been an education for me and as a family we would would not dream of eating processed food and take outs are a rare treat. My children are healthy and happy. I hope Jamie helps the U.S like he helped us.

    September 29, 2010 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Chloe Anderson

    organic farms could actually save us from carcinogens and toxins;-'

    October 5, 2010 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Bed Guard 

    organic farms will be the trend of the future coz we don't like artificial stuffs inside our body".:

    October 20, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Val Erebia

    Attractive blog post you have here. I hadn't given due consideration such.

    July 26, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.