interview with jamie: food revolution episode 2

Interview With Jamie: Food Revolution Episode 2

Mon 20 Sep 2010

Story by Danny McCubbin

In this online exclusive, Jamie answers questions that relate to the second episode of his 6-part TV show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution".

You seemed very confident the chicken nuggets stunt with the children would work. What did you think when it didnít?
I had done this with kids in England before and it worked every single time because when I showed them the stuff that was in a really cheap and nasty nugget they didnít want to eat it. But it didnít work this time and I really donít know why. Maybe the kids were a little bit younger. The thing is, the icons of the burger, nugget, and pizza are incredibly strong in the US. In some ways, these are some of the most consistently friendly and positive products in a kidís life, they love the adverts, the billboards, the packaging, the treats, and the free presents that come along with the actual food Ė so maybe that explains the result I got.

Were you surprised at the childrenís lack of knowledge about the vegetables?
Unfortunately, no. Itís the same in Britain, absolutely! Parents donít take enough responsibility for their kids. Theyíll complain that their kids only eat certain things yet they arenít really trying hard enough to make sure their kids know what food is, and can be. Get kids down to the farmersí market and supermarkets so they can pick something new to cook every week Make it normal for them to try something new every week, just one thing, and you wonít have a kid that canít identify basic vegetables.

Without question one of the biggest problems that we have at the moment is that in the last 40 years weíve gone from happily eating hundreds of different things to only having about 10 things that we will eat, nuggets, pizza, burger, sloppy joes, French fries, crisps, fizzy drinks, sweets Ė the list is very, very short. Children love routine but in actual fact, with food what you need to do is try and avoid giving them too much of a routine because what it does is close them down to new things. Often it makes them embrace only the things that they are used to and if those things are processed or fast foods then from the ages of 4 to 16 they wonít experiment and will stick to eating things that arenít that great for them.

Were the Edwards family resistant about taking their kids to the hospital for tests?
Not in the slightest, they were happy to take the family to the hospital (and donít forget healthcare in the US is not free). If I remember rightly, this was the first time that they had been to the hospital for a full check-up.

What was it like teaching Justin Edwards how to cook?
Justin is a young lad in a big body. He is going to be fine but obviously at his age and with his size, confidence and self-esteem can take a knock. When he started to cook he was amazing Ė he really started coming out of his shell. He was naturally quite good at it, he remembered things, he replicated things really well, and then at a certain point he even started grooving and showing off a bit which was great.

Was it difficult to pull off the stunt where you showed all of the parents the amount of fat that goes into their childrenís lunches at the elementary school?
Not really. It took a long time to find the type of fat that was being consumed in the school over a year and then find the equivalent weight of fat to put in the truck. But it was worth it because I think the public like having really clear signposts. I have never met a parent that wants their kids to eat junk at school. They want their kids to eat a wholesome meal at school, and they want their kids to enjoy it. To do that you have to have decent food and a decent food culture in your school. Just being able to show those parents how much fat was in the highly processed foods was brilliant. It was interesting to get their reactions, and of course we didnít even get on to the amount of sugar in the food, which was humongous as well. I found the parents really supportive and it was definitely a bit of a turning point.

About the Author: Danny McCubbin is the website editor for

Jamie's American Food Revolution is airing in the UK on Channel 4 - Monday 10pm

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