Christian Long

Jamie Oliver: TED Prize Wish – Teach Every Child About Food

In TED Talks on April 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

Reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jamie Oliver:  TED Prize Wish – Teach Every Child About Food

It’s hard to believe that educated children don’t know the difference between a tomato and a potato, but Jamie Oliver proves just that in his thought-provoking talk. These children are not stupid; they just simply have not been taught properly about food.

“We, the adults of the last four generations, have blessed our children with the destiny of a shorter lifespan than their own parents. Your child will live a life ten years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them.”

This ‘landscape of food’ needs to be revolutionized–and Oliver is doing all he can to get the revolution in motion.

Proof that a revolution needs to occur: a sixteen-year-old girl with six years to live; a four-year-old who is already obese; a girl who has lost her father and uncle to obesity–and whose stepfather is close behind them.

It is quite clear that our country has problems with the way we eat, but it is not necessarily entirely our own fault. A small handful of companies dictate the products we eat. A frightening truth is that those few companies that control the vast majority of what we eat also control the labels on their products. “They want to self-police themselves.”

How did our country get to the point where the same companies that make the food we eat make up their own rules?

The food dilemma is everywhere. It is on ‘Main Street’ where fast food dominates. It is at home, where kids are fed highly processed snacks. It is at school, where chemical-ladden lunches are provided.

Kids today do not know where their food comes from. Heck, adults today do not know where their food comes from. This needs to change.

Not even supposedly healthy food is safe from the additives or immense amounts of sugar. Milk, a drink every child is encouraged to consume, contains eight tablespoons of added sugar. In a profound demonstration, Oliver dumps a wheelbarrow filled to the brim with sugar onto the stage. “I’ve taken the liberty of putting in just the five years of elementary school sugar, just from milk.”

It is no wonder that children today have weight problems that a hundred years ago they would never dream of. They are literally stuffed full of sugar, chemicals, and additives that no human being needs.

As far as how to change, Oliver suggests food ambassadors in every supermarket that tell Americans how to shop, how to cook, and teach about where their food comes from and what it does for their body.

Oliver also notes how the labelling system in America must change. The producers can no longer be the rule-makers for their own products. School lunches need a makeover as well. Oliver suggests fresh lunches made on site from local growers’ produce.

All this change is big, but it is certainly achievable. Oliver commends Michelle Obama for her organic White House garden and urges Americans to support her (as well as other ‘angels’ trying to revolutionize our food) in the persuit for a healthier country.

Revolution is a scary word, but for the sake of future generations whose future does not look bright, it needs to happen.


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