In the professional chef's world, there are those who like and appreciate Jamie Oliver, and there are those who think he is a ponce. I like Jamie Oliver. I don't necessarily like his cooking or his cookbooks, but I have a deep respect for what he is trying to do for the general public's eating habits. I've gotten into raging debates at work defending the 'dumbing down' of food à la Jamie, but I stick to my guns: we need more Jamie Olivers in the profession.
Home economics has fallen out of school curricula the world over, people are increasingly dependant on ready-made foods and restaurants to feed themselves. Yes, I know, I am a chef and I depend on people not cooking for themselves to make a living. But I also depend on my customers being healthy and alive. Jamie Oliver is spreading the word that good, healthy meals can be simple and inexpensive. And fast.
Oliver started his school dinners' campaign in the UK five years ago, and actually managed to bring on change to the way Britain's children are fed at school. He is now bringing his campaign to the US. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is a bit over-dramatic, a little over the top, but the core message is there: unhealthy eating habits are unsustainable, for ourselves and for the planet. You have to watch it, if only to see how chicken nuggets are made.... eeeeeewwww!
It's a little less well known over on this side of the Atlantic, but Oliver is also an avid gardener and supporter of organic and local food systems. Organic food needn't be expensive: even if you do not have access to a parcel of land, you can easily grow part of your food. Even if it is just a couple pots of herbs, or a window box of salad. Or a jar of sprouts.
To encourage you to green your thumbs, I will be posting more gardening tips this year. I'm just itching to get my hands in some soil!