Jamie Oliver Talks About Food Revolution Day and Why You Should Participate!

BlogHer Original Post

On Saturday, May 19, people all over the world will celebrate the first Food Revolution Day, a day of action designed to help everyone think about where their food comes from, consider making healthier, less-processed choices about what they put in their bodies, and gather together to share those ideas and meals as a community of cooks and eaters committed to eating well.

Celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver, who has been working in the United Kingdom and in the United States since 2004 to improve school meals for kids throughout both countries, is using the day to expand awareness about ways to eat well, and why it's so important to do so. I had the opportunity to ask Jamie about his work and about Food Revolution Day—read on to learn more about the bigger picture into which this important day fits, as well as small ways that everyone can take part.

Standing together for Food Revolution Day

Genie Gratto: You've now worked on food systems issues in the United States for a few years. What surprised you most about trying your food revolution in America versus the United Kingdom?

Jamie Oliver: In America, there are many more layers than in the UK—thousands of school districts in 50 states following their own regulations that are guided by federal regulations, which are not nearly as strict as they need to be. It takes much longer to make sweeping change. You have to attack it school district by school district. After Jamie's School Dinners aired in the UK and the campaign collected petition signatures, not only did the government vote in 500 million dollars to improve school food but The School Food Trust, a registered charity and specialist advisor to government on school meals, children’s food and related skills to set the standards was created.

GG: After the final credits roll on each season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, how does the work continue? How can the Food Revolution scale beyond individual towns or school districts, and change food systems across the country?

JO: The Food Revolution campaign is going stronger than ever. On Saturday, May 19, we're launching our first-ever global day of action, Food Revolution Day, which encourages people to stand up for real food. Right now we have more than 600 events in 400 cities in 45 countries across the world. Go to foodrevolutionday.com to check all of them out and get involved. We also launched stoppinkslime.org to support Bettina Elias Siegel's petition and continue to shed light on food issues through the website, social media and all of our incredible Food Revolution Facebook groups across America.

Jamie Oliver

GG: The obesity problem is no longer the sole purview of the Western world. Why did you pick the U.S., and why do you care so much about this country?

JO: America leads the world in so many things—not just obesity—and it is so big and there are so many amazing people here doing wonderful things, I figured if Americans started making better food choices, learned to cook and stopped buying processed foods, then the big companies that make processed food will change what they are offering. You have a lot of power just in the choices you make. If you stop buying crap food, they will stop selling it. McDonald's in the UK, for example, is completely different than McDonald's in the U.S., because the public there has demanded those changes.

GG: What is the proper role of the food industry in resolving the crisis of obesity in the United States?

JO: They need to be more responsible and truthful and transparent in what they are creating. You have the right to know what is in your food. If you see a label with words you can't pronounce or more than one or two ingredients, don't buy it.

GG: How do you feel about the way the fast food and processed food industry markets to kids?

JO: I think it's shameful, but we can all learn from them. Marketing to kids is powerful with positive messages too. In the UK and in Huntington, kids chose plain milk over flavored only when their teachers told them it was better (for the younger kids) and we made it cool with posters and stickers and marketing (for the older kids).

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