Jamie Oliver
Photo: Chris Terry
Jamie Oliver wants to change the way this country eats—and he's starting in the most overweight city in America. Watch how Jamie's changing minds and saving lives on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC.

Read a Q&A from Jamie about Episode 3 of his fight to eat right.
Q: What do you think convinced Rhonda to let you try cooking lunch at the high school?

A: I'm not sure really. Was it me? I don't think so. Was it the TV show? Possibly. Or, was it because it was the right thing to do and a great opportunity? Probably. Rhonda had done a great job of organizing the school food system over the years, but my message was that we needed to change the kinds of food coming into the school. So the fact that she let me in made me suspect that she kind of agreed with me and wanted to be helpful in this food revolution, which of course she was.
Q: It was inspiring to see such a diverse range of teenagers—most of whom had personal experiences of obesity. At this stage, did this boost your confidence and make you feel that there could be a positive resolution for the campaign?

A: Huntington is really no different from any other town in America, and American towns aren't that different from towns in the UK and many other countries. What I mean is, in all these places, you'll often find three or four generations of people who haven't been taught to cook at home or at school. The minute you go into a classroom and say, "Put your hand up if you have been affected in any way by obesity or diet-related disease," literally everyone's hands goes up. This was certainly the case in Huntington, and lots of young people were tired of it. People in my class had had their lives wrecked by eating a life of bad food. They'd lost family members because of it, so it was not a joke. They were very passionate about it and a bit pissed off about it, and you need that.
Q: How nervous were you having the kids cooking at the fundraiser?

A: It was a massive, massive gamble. My heart said they could do it, but then my common sense said that I had absolutely jumped the gun and we were going to have a big problem. It just required magic on the day, and thank the Lord we did have magic and they pulled it off brilliantly. We didn't have loads of time to do this dinner, and while we were prepping and doing all of the work, you could see all of the gaps in their experience, but we kind of patched those up, and when we went into service, a totally new game face came on. They listened, they were proficient, they were methodical, they worked cleanly, and they didn't talk too much. I set them up to work in a factory line so one person was passing plates, one was adding the protein, another was adding the garnish or the sauce, etc., and they were doing this with such beautiful precision that I had to walk out and grab the principal of the school so he could come and see it. He was as gobsmacked as I was. They weren't chefs, but they came together as a team and they succeeded. That's why I passionately believe schools should teach kids to cook and do little projects where they get to show their creativity, use their common sense, problem solve and work as a team. The kids did a great job.
Q: How proud did you feel when the kids came out to speak to everyone?

A: Well, that was amazing. There aren't many opportunities on network TV where young people have a voice, especially on the subject of bad health as a result of the crap we eat. I know we are tired of hearing about diabetes and obesity and we've seen too many statistics we can't relate to, but when these kids walked out, it was like they were the voice of America and they spoke so much sense. They were full of positivity, honesty, and wore their hearts on their sleeves. They spoke so eloquently and brought the whole room to tears, which was quite an amazing moment really. I looked around and everyone was crying—the principle was crying, even the TV crew was crying. They didn't rehearse any of their speeches, and I know that because I was with them three minutes before they went out. In this whole story, I think the young people turned out to be the trump card. They got the message across and really sorted things out. If you'd put any world leader, any senator, any governor or CEO in that room at that moment to listen to those kids, they would have been affected the same way.
Q: How shocked were you to find out that a french fry is considered part of the five-a-day vegetable allowance for a school meal?

A: It's outrageous. If the government is going to be responsible for feeding kids breakfast and lunch every day, they are at school in this current climate of awful, terrible health that's literally killing America, you'd think the nutritional guideline standards (i.e., what the government believes is responsible for school cooks to feed your child) would be based on common sense. But today, french fries are considered a vegetable. Yes, a potato is a vegetable, but by the time it has been chipped up and deep-fried, I don't think you can really say it's a healthy vegetable, especially when kids aren't getting enough salad and greens. It just means the food provider can tick a box and say they've served a portion of vegetables. Don't get me wrong: I love a good french fry, but when they are available on a daily basis and the kids can choose them over other vegetables, it's a problem. I am much more interested in changing that to once a week. It's just madness really.

Learn more about Jamie's Food Revolution


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