Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk on Teach Every Child About Food (Transcript)

Jamie Oliver

Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk on Teach Every Child About Food (Transcript)

Jamie Oliver – Chef, Activist

Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat.

My name is Jamie Oliver. I’m 34 years old. I’m from Essex in England and for the last seven years I’ve worked fairly tirelessly to save lives in my own way. I’m not a doctor; I’m a chef, I don’t have expensive equipment or medicine. I use information, education.

I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life. We have an awful, awful reality right now. America, you’re at the top of your game. This is one of the most unhealthy countries in the world.

Can I please just see a raise of hands for how many of you have children in this room today? Please put your hands up. Aunties, uncles, you can continue to put your hands up, aunties and uncles as well. Most of you. OK.

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 10 years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them. Two-thirds of this room, today, in America, are statistically overweight or obese. You lot, you’re all right, but we’ll get you eventually, don’t worry.

Right? The statistics of bad health are clear, very clear. We spend our lives being paranoid about death, murder, homicide, you name it; it’s on the front page of every paper, CNN. Look at homicide at the bottom, for God’s sake. Right?

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Every single one of those in the red is a diet-related disease. Any doctor, any specialist will tell you that.

Fact: Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the United States, right now, here today. This is a global problem. It’s a catastrophe. It’s sweeping the world. England is right behind you, as usual.

I know they were close, but not that close. We need a revolution. Mexico, Australia, Germany, India, China, all have massive problems of obesity and bad health. Think about smoking. It costs way less than obesity now. Obesity costs you Americans 10% of your healthcare bills, $150 billion a year. In 10 years, it’s set to double: $300 billion a year. And let’s be honest, guys, you ain’t got that cash.

I came here to start a food revolution that I so profoundly believe in. We need it. The time is now. We’re in a tipping-point moment. I’ve been doing this for seven years. I’ve been trying in America for seven years. Now is the time when it’s ripe — ripe for the picking. I went to the eye of the storm. I went to West Virginia, the most unhealthy state in America. Or it was last year. We’ve got a new one this year, but we’ll work on that next season.

Huntington, West Virginia. Beautiful town. I wanted to put heart and soul and people, your public, around the statistics that we’ve become so used to. I want to introduce you to some of the people that I care about: your public, your children.

I want to show a picture of my friend Brittany. She is 16 years old. She’s got six years to live because of the food that she’s eaten. She’s the third generation of Americans that hasn’t grown up within a food environment where they’ve been taught to cook at home or in school, or her mom, or her mom’s mom. She has six years to live. She’s eating her liver to death.

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