He first shot to fame as the Naked Chef, but recently Jamie Oliver has adopted a more serious role: Food Revolutionary. It started with England's school cafeterias and now he's tackling the eating habits of the "unhealthiest town in America." In Oliver's newest show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, he gets down and dirty with the lunch ladies of Huntington, W.Va., in an attempt to change the way we eat one school lunch at a time.
For his unwavering passion for healthy eating, Jamie Oliver was awarded the 2010 Heart of Green Food Revolutionary Award, on April 20 at a ceremony in New York City. Here's what he had to say in answer to some questions from The Daily Green's Gloria Dawson:
What was the catalyst that made you expand your work from chef to food activist?
Jamie Oliver: I've always been the sort of person who has wanted to inspire people to cook better and eat better. Even if you look back to the first shows, the Naked Chef series, I'm trying to get people to think about food and cooking as fun and easy and not a chore. When that series was on TV in the UK, I used to have loads of blokes coming up to me in the street and thanking me for turning them on to cooking because it made their girlfriends happy with them. So what was the catalyst? I don't think there was one because it's always been a part of what I am.
Why do you think there's been a different reaction to your plans for school lunches and healthy eating in West Virginia, as opposed to in England?
It hasn't actually been that different. In the UK, there was opposition at the beginning and people saying it wouldn't work and then it did work and everyone started supporting me. Things are changing in West Virginia and it's going to be a long process as it is in the UK school meals are still a long way from perfect here.
What's really standing in America's way to eating better? Is it advertising, schedules or something else?
It's just knowledge, that's all. Give people knowledge to be able to cook a delicious meal for their families which will cost them less than a take-away and can be prepared quickly and they'll take that knowledge and cherish it. But if there's nowhere for them to learn that knowledge, what happens then?
What's a great gateway food to healthy eating? Is there a crowd-pleaser that's delicious, good for you and easy to cook?
Where do you stand on the meat-eating dilemma? How much meat is the right amount to eat?
I'm a big meat fan. I admire vegetarians, but I could never be one. I love meat too much. But I know that I shouldn't eat meat every day and so i usually have a couple of days a week when I don't eat meat. But it's all about balance for me. (Try one of Jamie's beef recipes).
What's your kids' favorite meal or snack? Is there anything you have to force them to eat?
You should never force kids to eat anything because they just rebel against that. Mine are pretty good at eating most things. They love the American one-cup pancakes in the Food Revolution book, and they help me to make them.
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