Jamie Oliver attends an event in Toronto on Monday

Jamie Oliver attends an event in Toronto on Monday

Jamie Oliver asks Canada to join food crusade

Jamie Oliver expands food crusade to G20, cites diet problems in Canada

  • Mar. 31, 2015 8:00 a.m.

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Jamie Oliver, Britain’s celebrity chef, has thrown down the gauntlet — or maybe it’s an oven mitt — to Canadian politicians to join his international campaign for mandatory diet education in rich countries.

The popular chef, television star and best-selling author says it is time for Canadian politicians to do something about their country’s number one killer: diet-related disease.

“The biggest killer in your country is diet-related disease. It’s not guns, it’s not armed robbery,” Oliver said in an exclusive interview from Sydney, Australia, where he launched a global campaign this week urging G20 countries to make food education mandatory in schools.

“When it has a dramatic cost to public health, which it does in Canada … you really need to do something much more long term, much more strategic.”

Oliver is well known for his international advocacy for healthy food in schools, but he’s upping the ante with his G20 campaign.

He’s aiming for millions of signatures worldwide, and is off to a good start: an online petition through the website Change.org attracted 160,000 in the first 24 hours. Oliver cooked for G20 leaders in London at their 2009 summit.

Oliver said he’s not political, but the issue of healthy food has been a politically charged one in Canada.

Recent images showed Rankin Inlet residents foraging for food in a dump, while the United Nations food envoy criticized Canada two years ago for not ensuring healthy food reached vulnerable populations, including aboriginals.

“It’s about Canadian politicians looking after every child, whether they’re middle class, whether they’re from rich communities, whether they’re poor or whether they’re in the far limbs of the country, and whatever ethnic backgrounds,” said Oliver.

This week, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, for the first time in more than two decades, called on doctors to monitor the growth of their young patients on an ongoing basis.

It recommended that doctors refer their young overweight or obese patients to structured behavioural inventions such as working with nutritionists and other professionals.

Oliver said it is cheaper in the long term and ultimately more effective to target children in schools, with a mandatory curriculum that teaches them how to raise a garden, cook food, and learn “about geography, the history, the science, the maths behind it all.”

“Compulsory food education for every Canadian kid has not been promised, and that to me is immoral,” said Oliver.

“It’s time for the Canadian government to draw a line in the sand and say we need to support teachers. When kids come to school with no breakfasts … when the food in lunch boxes is inappropriate, this is not helping teachers do their jobs.”

Oliver said he finds Canadians to be generally better educated about food issues than people in other countries, so he said they should “not ask, but tell” their politicians to do more.

That’s one reason why he said he partnered with Nova Scotia-based supermarket chain Sobeys two years ago to bring healthy food options to consumers.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Food, Oliver de Shutter, tried offering some advice to the Harper government in 2013 when he called for a national food strategy to deal with what he saw as nutritional inequities.

In response, then health minister Leona Aglukkaq called De Schutter “ill-informed” and “patronizing” while former immigration minister Jason Kenney described him as “completely ridiculous.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Vernon man's faith in humanity has been restored since his lost wallet was returned, credit cards, cash and all, to the RCMP station. (Contributed)
Good Samaritan turns in cash-filled wallet to Vernon Mounties

Owner’s faith in humanity restored following a tough few weeks

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

A petition to spare the Mount Rose Swanson area from logging later this year has eclipsed 21,000 signatures as of Jan. 20, 2021. (Rose Swanson Mountain/Facebook)
Controversial logging will cut 4% of ‘sensitive’ Armstrong forest area: Ministry

A petition to spare the Rose Swanson area from logging has eclipsed 21,000 signatures

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Most Read