Real Food Hero of the Month-Jamie Oliver

New year, new features on the blog. Introducing “Real Food Hero of the Month”, where I will heap praise on someone I feel is leading the way forward for the real, local, sustainable food movement.

As the title indicates, my first hero is British chef Jamie Oliver. Jamie Oliver’s cooking style is very rustic and simple: let the ingredients speak for themselves. He has had several shows on Food Network, and published a pile of cookbooks. He is an avid home gardener, as well as an advocate for eating local, seasonal, sustainable foods. And, well, darnit he’s a cutie too. ;) (click on “Read More” to read the rest of this post)

You may know him as “The Naked Chef”, the name of his first American cooking show on Food Network. However, across Britain he is known also for his nearly one-man quest to completely revamp British childrens’ school lunches. British school lunches were no better than some of those here in the US; lots of fast, fried, fat-laden food, not much fruit or veggies, nothing fresh, just cans and boxes, junk food and soda machines all around. Not surprisingly, the obesity epidemic is just as bad there as it is here. Oliver set out to change all that, one school at a time. As a result of his hard work, British school lunch nutrition policies are changing to include more fresh foods, less fatty food, and no vending machines.

He also ran into parental resistance. In one town, Rotherham, mums were actually passing fast-food take out to their children through the school gates, so they wouldn’t have to eat healthy food if they didn’t want to! That got Oliver’s attention, and when he began his latest food movement, “pass it on”, he chose to start off in Rotherham.

In Rotherham, Oliver noticed that, like in much of the UK, people just didn’t like to cook anymore. They didn’t have time, or couldn’t afford it, or didn’t know how. Cooking skills and recipes weren’t being passed on. Take-out and processed boxed foods were the norm. He wanted to change that, to show people directly that there is time to cook simple, delicious, economical meals, and he wanted to show them how. He set up a kitchen in Rotherham, and convinced some of the people in town to learn to cook with him, under one condition; they each had to pass on the recipes they learned from Jamie to a friend or family member, and that person had to pass it on, and so on.

Oliver’s “pass it on” campaign is outlined in his new book, “Jamie’s Food Revolution”, or as it’s titled in Britain/Canada, “Jamie’s Ministry of Food” (titles often change when books are published first in UK and later here; the word “ministry” in America brings religion to mind, where “Ministry” in UK is just an office of the government). During WWII, the British people were struggling with food shortages, so the government set up a Ministry of Food, to send cooks from town to town, teaching people how to make the best meals with what little they had. Oliver’s campaign is similar to this, but the reason behind it is different. Oliver blames the health and obesity problems in the UK on what they are feeding themselves. So he has set out to change how the country feeds itself, one town at a time. He has also brought his campaign to the US, to Huntington, WV. The results of this will be aired on ABC in March. Don’t miss it.

Real Food Road has signed Jamie’s petition to “pass it on”. Here on the blog I will present recipes from “Jamie’s Food Revolution” that I have cooked and fed to my family successfully. I would like to promise photos, but we’ll see how that goes… ;) Then you, my far-flung readers, need to promise me that you will try a recipe or two yourselves, and then…pass it on. If you would like to sign the petition, on the left side of this page there is a Jamie Oliver button. Click on it, and you will be taken to his website.

If you have ideas for future Real Food Heroes, leave them in the comments! If When you try a recipe, leave a comment on how it went. If you want more info on Jamie Oliver or his books/shows, the highlighted text in this post links to many things Jamie Oliver. Just click on them.

See you next week! Pass it on! :)

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