Hot Dad Jamie Oliver Tells Us About His "Food Revolution"

Sona Charaipotra

Jamie Oliver
Photo from ABC

Jamie Oliver is trying to piss you off!

You've got to love a man with passion -- and Oliver's got plenty of it. On his new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a six-week reality series which premieres on ABC tomorrow night at 8 p.m., the Brit culinary heartthrob heads to Huntington, West Virginia, to take on "the most unhealthy town in America" -- one family at a time. "It's not just a TV show," insists Oliver," proud papa to three little girls (with another Oliver baby on the way). "It's not The Biggest Loser, it's not a weight-loss show. This is a real campaign to change the way people think about food."

We paused to chat with the former Naked Chef about families, food, and why school lunches suck.

With documentaries like Food, Inc. and the First Lady's recent initiative, it seems the topic of food is on everyone's mind right now.

Everyone knows what the problem is. Everyone's sick of hearing all the bad news. What they want is the tools and they information to do something about their relationship with food and enjoy it, a way to feel like they own it. So it's so simple, but at the same time, for me, it's quite complicated as well. For me, it's always been: You put your head down, you get into the community, start working with families, start building relationships. It's word of mouth, get it out there that this change is positive, it can help you save money, it can help the health of your family.

And you see the family as the root of this?

It must be passed down to your kids, and your kids' kids. It's all about family. And I may get a bit emotional, because I've got a seven-year-old, a six-year-old and a one-year-old. Everyone always blames the kids, the kids, the kids, the kids. But it's not the kids. It's the adults. The adults are the ones in a position of power. The adults of the last three generations have made lots of bad decisions. You can put someone on the moon and you can communicate through all that clever wireless Internet gadgetry, but then the kids in America and England now are the first generation where the kids are expected to live a shorter life than their parents. It gets me upset and always will.

You've always been passionate about making food real and healthy. But why a reality TV show?

It's the only way to tell this story. It's been something very close to my heart. I've been doing this for about five years now, but only with this show in the last 10 months, the reaction has started to change. People are not just talking about it, but starting to do something about it. But change is never easy with anyone.

So where do we start?

It starts at home. But it's also the classroom, you know? If you recognize that most kids don't know what most veggies are -- which is definitely a massive problem, because if they don't know what the food is, they aren't going to try it -- you can immediately realize that a whole school approach is the only way to go to make it work. Right now you've got the First Lady trying to push the most important initiatives for kids in school in the last 30 years. We're not going to have another chance to do it for five years, and by then it will be too late because this generation will be let down, yet again. The people fighting against her will be the people from the food industry, without a doubt. They don't want to see the government ordering less of these processed foods. They all have a vested interest in carrying on serving your kids crap. I hope you genuinely are are touched, as am I, by this. Now needs to be the time where our kids need to come before the dollar.

So what can families start doing to change their relationship with food?

If there one thing any family can do -- it will save them money, it will make them healthier -- it is learn to cook. If you can learn to cook five or 10 simple dishes that are nutritious, then you've got choices. If you can't cook, you haven't got choices.

And ask questions. Whatever I do, it comes back to trying to empower people. I want the parents of America to watch this show, they can laugh, they can cry, but most importantly, what really has to happen is that they get pissed off. They need to get pissed off about the right things. Whether they're talking to friends, or other parents at the school or just having the confidence to go to the principal and say, "Can I have a look at the menu? Can I have a look in the freezer please. I want to look at those boxes. I want to see if those boxes look like a science lesson." I want them to ask, "Where did this come from? What are our other options?" I want parents to stand up and be counted.

You can catch a special two-hour premiere of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution tomorrow at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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