May 23, 2012
Television personality, food activist, and internationally acclaimed chef Jamie Oliver received Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Healthy Cup Award on May 22, 2012 at a packed ceremony at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center in Boston. More than 500 people came to see Oliver, star of TV series such as Naked Chef and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, receive the award. Watch the video >>
“We need a food revolution,” Oliver told the audience. “Imagine a world where children are fed real food and educated about it. Where I knew where my meat came from and animals were treated with respect. Where children and their parents eat and garden together. Where children get clean water. Where the biggest cause of death was not self-inflicted by food.”
Check out the video “Imagine a Healthier World,” which premiered at the Healthy Cup event. Also, watch video of:
- Dean Julio Frenk and Walter Willett opening remarks
- Jamie Oliver lecture
- Jamie Oliver Q & A with audience
Jamie Oliver, with Dean Julio Frenk (left) and nutrition department chair Walter Willett, hoists the Healthy Cup Award.
Oliver was honored for his transformative work on school lunch programs in the United States and the United Kingdom and for the dramatic influence his advocacy has had on public opinion around childhood obesity. His message—that community-wide as well as individual changes are needed to solve the obesity epidemic—reached millions when ABC’s Food Revolution, a reality TV program, documented his efforts to overhaul school meals in Huntington, West Virginia, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The HSPH award ceremony followed Oliver’s global “Food Revolution Day,” held May 19. According to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, the event’s organizer, grassroots groups held events in about 660 cities in more than 60 countries that day, stressing the need to purchase and cook whole, unprocessed food and to repudiate chemical-laden junk food. Events ranged from cooking demonstrations to organic farm tours to dinner discussions.
In presenting the Healthy Cup to Oliver, Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and Frederick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, cited Oliver’s “extraordinarily wide-ranging efforts to combat childhood obesity, through your television programs, your foundation, and Food Revolution Day, and your focus on making healthier food available to children in schools and at home.” He added, “The importance of fighting this epidemic, especially among children, cannot be overstated. We are already seeing parts of the American population where life expectancy is declining.”
Oliver didn’t shrink from criticizing governments and the food industry for contributing to the global obesity epidemic, but managed to get some good laughs while doing so. He laid some of the blame at the feet of soda companies. “I still think soda needs a good spank,” he said.
Oliver stressed the need to teach children and families how to grow their own food, cook from scratch, avoid processed food, and better understand where food comes from and what’s in it. Oliver also called for schools to include food education and life skills in their curricula. “Imagine a child’s best interests aren’t compromised by the meat processing industry, the milk industry, the grain industry, sugar cartels, unions or lobbyists, just to mention a few,” he said.
Upon receiving the large silver trophy, Oliver hoisted it overhead with a big grin. The chef, who left school at age 16 to train for his cooking career, said of getting an award from Harvard, “This means a lot.”
“Jamie Oliver has changed the way millions of people think about the importance of healthy eating and healthy cooking,” HSPH Dean Julio Frenk told the audience. “He has been and continues to be tremendously influential in the battle against childhood obesity, which is of critical importance to the world’s present and future health.”
Oliver said he has great hope that a public educated about food and armed with healthy recipes can achieve more than government has to improve the world’s food. “It’s not rocket science,” he said. “It’s food that’s tasty and nutritious.”
–Elaine Grant, Marge Dwyer
photo: Tony Rinaldo