I was equal parts delighted and surprised by this recent announcement on December 21st by Alissa Walker on Fast Company about the sole TED Prize winner for 2010, chef Jamie Oliver. More specifically, I’m delighted about his success, hopefully continued and extended by the attention brought by this TED Prize, on changing the food attitudes and habits of children and families.
“There he is, Mr. TED Prize 2010 (he's the one on the left). Yes, it's British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, the man who brought his brand of sexy, slightly-messy, all-natural cooking to television--and his own sexy, slightly-messy, all-natural chef-ness for women everywhere to fantasize about greasing up with extra virgin olive oil.
Don't worry, he's not gonna blow the $100k on a 2-ton chunk of pink Himalayan salt. For the last few years, Oliver's been on the front lines of fighting childhood obesity. For the last year he's been battling state school lunches in the U.K., pressuring them to spend $1 billion to overhaul the program, and penned a lovely manifesto for schools. He founded the Fifteen Foundation, a program that trains at-risk 18-to-24 year-olds in the culinary arts, and a new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution USA, where he hopes to bring the same level of reform to U.S. schools, will debut on ABC next year.”
For the past 30+ years, I've spent more time outside of North America than in it, and every time I go back, I'm always taken aback by the increase in obesity, and the contributing behaviors I see. In the past 10 years, the most marked and upsetting increase has been the degree to which this is now affecting children, as well as entire families and social groups.
I'm personally convinced the root of the problem is eating habits and poor diets. Solutions are mostly a return to the age-old wisdom of less quantity, more quality, and physical activity. No new fads, diets, or supplements required, thank you.
One of the best things I've read in a long time and one of my most recommended books for the past few years is "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano. Of COURSE it is written by a woman—they are SO much smarter—but I don’t find it to be at all limited or exclusive to my favorite gender. Here’s an excerpt from the editor’s review:
“The message of this book could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. There is no hard science, no clearly-defined plan, and no lists of food to have or have not; instead, you'll find simple tricks that boil down to eating carefully prepared seasonal food, exercising more and refusing to think of food as something that inspires guilt. It's both a practical message and far easier said than done in today's "no pain, no gain" culture.”
It is no more about women than it is about the French or diets. It is ALL about the joy of food and the joy of life and that these are NOT mutually exclusive. I like for example, Mireille’s note that “as an adult everyone is the keeper of her own equilibrium.”
Some things I’ve tried that have increased my already high joie de vivre and joy of eating include:
- Multiply the number of times you chew a given food by 10.
- Eat just one morsel at a time. Try this with popcorn!
- Never drink while you are eating (i.e. wash it down).
- Eat the real thing; never eat substitutes (sugar, milk, butter, chocolate).
- Strike a balance or equilibrium; if you eat more, exercise more.
You get the idea. This book is well worth the read. And congratulations to Jamie and TED!