Jamie Oliver and TED

This is a piece I wrote for the Environmental Media Association’s newsletter (I added in the hyperlinks) – you can find the whole newsletter online at http://www.ema-online.org/emails/2010/april/index.htm or just read this online at http://www.ema-online.org/emails/2010/april/index.htm#article-6

JAMIE OLIVER AND TED

By Diane Hatz

This year’s TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference was deliciously full of sustainable food talk, from chef/Blue Hill restaurant owner Dan Barber’s love affair with a fish to cancer researcher William Li’s talk about which local, sustainable foods will help prevent cancer. But the highlight of the event, which ran February 9 – 13 in Long Beach and Palm Springs, was Jamie Oliver’s TED prize speech and wish.

Every year, the TED prize is awarded to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and “One Wish to Change the World”. This year, Oliver’s wish is “for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Oliver is known for his bestselling cookbooks, award-winning TV shows and for changing the school lunch program in Britain. He has now landed on American soil and is taking on the childhood obesity epidemic here, partly through his new ABC television show and partly through winning this year’s TED prize.

The plan is to “set up an organization to create a popular movement that will inspire people to change the way they eat. The movement will do this by establishing a network of community kitchens; launching a travelling food theater that will teach kids practical food and cooking skills in an entertaining way and provide basic training for parents and professionals; and bringing millions of people together through an online community to drive the fight against obesity. The grassroots movement must also challenge corporate America to support meaningful programs that will change the culture of junk food.”

Oliver also has the chance to help galvanize and give a strong national voice to the sustainable food movement that could reach far beyond his wish. For example, MIT and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama, have taken on efforts to end childhood obesity. Johns Hopkins founded the Center for a Livable Future to look at interconnections among diet, food production, human health and the natural environment. EMA has launched a national school garden program to reconnect children with their food. And The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming supports leaders in the movement while also solving critical problems in this area.

Together, all of us can realize Oliver’s wish and create a healthy, sustainable food system for all. Begin by purchasing one item from a sustainable farm in your area, like milk or apples. Over time, add more healthy food. Or commit to spending as little as $10 a month on food from a local farmers market. Another option is to reduce your meat consumption like the folks at Meatless Monday suggest. These seemingly small efforts all add up to granting Oliver’s wish to create a strong, sustainable food movement. So let’s start today!

To learn more about Oliver’s prize, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit www.tedprize.org/jamie-oliver.

Diane Hatz is Co-Founder & Director of The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming, www.glynwoodinstitute.org.

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