© Christopher Terry
Jamie Oliver is a busy man, but somewhere between writing cookbooks and starring on multiple television shows he managed to find some time to revolutionize the state of school lunches in America. Over the past three years, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation has helped revamp meal programs, provide access to fresh food and educate children on how to eat right. Here, some of Oliver’s strategies for improving the state of food in America and the state of food in your life.
Use everyday dollars to make change. “The only thing that’s making the world go around in this industry is the dollar and if for a minute any business or any person thinks that your dollar might go next door because they’re not offering something, it makes a massive difference,” Oliver says. “For example, U.K. McDonalds are only serving 100 percent organic eggs, 100 percent free-range milk, high welfare pork and high welfare beef, but back here in the states they’re not."
Demand clean tap water. While access to organic food and produce is important, there are shockingly many places in the United States that don’t even have proper basics. “In L.A. one of the biggest issues is access to clean, safe water in primary schools,” Oliver says. “It’s obviously very relevant in poor areas because you don’t want to force people to buy the most expensive form of hydration on the planet, which is branded bottle water. This is something that should have been taken care of 100 years ago. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Add a punch of flavor to healthy snacks. Oliver’s favorite healthy snack is easy to throw together: “A beautiful carrot or hunk of fennel or nice vegetable from the garden, just peeled, chunked up, tossed in lime juice and dipped in chile sauce. I could eat that until the cows come home. It’s delicious and much better than just putting a packet of crisps inside you.”
Put as much care into vegetable cookery as we do meat. In 2014, Oliver resolved to continue eating meat just two or three times a week. “I think the big thing that everyone is going to have to think about in the next 20 years is that having meat three times a day, seven days a week is going to make you die young, and you probably won’t be able to afford anything that’s particularly tasty or of good quality anyway,” he says. “How about quality rather than quantity? I’m a ferocious meat eater but I only want to eat good meat. I just want to eat good healthy animals that have had good lives that are going to fill your body with goodness.” To counter his meat craving, he’s working to come up with ways to make vegetable dishes better. “I’m trying to knock out some badass vegetable dishes that people will attack first instead of the roast chicken,” he says. He’s looking to other cultures and cuisines for inspiration like Italian, Greek, Turkish and Spanish. “Those guys historically were vegetarians three days a week at least,” he says. “They just never spoke about it because they never had any meat to begin with. It wasn’t about being vegetarian; they were just eating vegetables.”
But treasure comfort foods. One of Oliver’s many projects in 2014 is a currently unnamed show all about comfort food. “It means so much to people,” Oliver says. “It’s been great to research because people don’t stop talking when you ask them about it. It could be posh food or it could be something on toast or it could be something your grandma or granddad used to do. It could be comforting because it’s nostalgic or ritualistic or it could be because it’s naughty.”