Why I have a crush on Jamie Oliver

Oct 1, 2010 by

If you live in the States, I'm a little jealous. Not just because you're closer to my family, but because you can watch a television show that I am completely in love with:  Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I am not the kind of girl that watches television--in fact, I've never owned one until I moved in with Guido, and we only used our basic cable once to watch the World Cup (Hey, I'm in Italy, what can I say?). So, thank goodness for airline entertainment. I was fortunate enough to watch the Food Revolution while traveling over the Atlantic on the way back from the United States. After watching the forty-minute pilot episode, I was totally inspired and moved by Jamie's mission to transform the unhealthy eating habits in the United States. Now this is the kind of television I can get behind. Here's the premise of the show: Jamie travels to Huntington, West Virgina (population 50,000), recently named the unhealthiest city in America because of its high rate of obesity-related deaths. A 2008 report from the Center for Disease Control reported the following facts on Huntington: 45.5% of the residents over 20 were overweight (that's half!), 21.6% of those over 45 reported a diagnosis of coronary heart disease, and 13% of those over 18 had diabetes (the national rate is 7.8%). Jamie's goal is to try to get the residents to change their addiction to fast and unhealthy food and show them that with just a little extra effort their lives can be healthier and much, much longer. The show is packed with insight into our American diet. It highlights what we feed our kids across the country--because let's face it, it's not as if the residents of Huntington are the only ones addicted to fast food. But I was must struck by the emotional chords struck during the show; I was riveted while watching the various conflicts between Jamie and the town's residents that felt understandably judged and embarrassed by the spotlight on their diets. I was moved by the intense emotions the locals expressed when they realized the processed foods they feed their kids could literally take years off their children's lives. One moment you HAVE to watch (I included the Youtube below) is when Jamie goes into a classroom with a group of 1st grade school children and tries to get them to identify basic fruits and vegetables. "Who knows what these are?" Jamie asks as he holds up a bunch of dark red tomatoes. None of the kids knew. "Potatoes!" One kids yells. Another gets up real close and squints and then shakes his head. "I dunno." Then Jamie yells out, "Who knows what ketchup is?" And all the kids' hands shoot into the air, huge smiles on their faces. Tomatoes, people. We're talking about tomatoes. This is nothing new to Jamie (yeah, we're on a first name basis...), who was recently named Britain's "Food Czar" and asked to transform the student lunches throughout the U.K. He also put his house up as collateral (without telling his wife), so he could fund The Fifteen Foundation, which takes fifteen young adults every year from disadvantaged backgrounds with criminal and drug abuse histories, and trains them in the restaurant business. In Decemeber 2009, Jamie won the 2010 TED prize for his efforts to change unhealthy food habits around the world. And those are just his biggest highlights. I wouldn't want to be married to the guy, but dang, he's definitely become one of my heroes. Check out the video clip with the vegetables below: And Part 1 of Episode 1 here: Also, you can click here for some REALLY interesting maps on obesity and diabetes in the U.S., where the stats came from listed above. And if you know how to access Jamie's TV show from Italy--please tell me!!!


  1. Marsha

    Love it! For those of us expats living outside the U.S., it's encouraging to know that there's something worthwhile on the American Fall Network TV Line-Up. It really synchs in with "Fast Food Nation," "Super-Size Me," and the books by Michael Pollan: "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food." I think the ultimate irony of Jamie Oliver's documentary series would be if he could help Michael Moore lose 100 pounds, haha!!

  2. Jennie Durant

    What would be even more awesome is if Jamie Oliver could do a documentary with Michael Moore where they avoid all fast food and only eat foods prescribed by Michael Pollan…then we could tie all the books together in one! 😉 Thanks for commenting! Yay!

  3. Esther

    I totally loved this show – really important stuff.

  4. Jennie Durant

    Esther–do you know if it's still playing in the States? Or was it just a one time run?

  5. Claire Bear

    The clip of the primary school kids is shocking! I was really behind Jamie (I'm also on first name terms with him!) when he revolutionised the school dinners in the U.K. My eyes were opened when my kids started school here in Italy and had such healthy school dinners with menus planned out by paediatricians. At pre-school they always gave fruit for a mid-morning snack, and that habit has stayed with my youngest daughter, who loves fruit more than cakes.

  6. Jennie Durant

    I can't believe the lunches are so healthy here in Italy–I had no idea. What a blessing. Italians have a much healthier relationship with their food. It's really beautiful. So good to hear a U.K. native's perspective about Jamie, because I wondered if he was one of those people that every one else loves, but the locals can't stand. 🙂

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