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

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.

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.”

Just Posted

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

U.K. study says expect more reactions from mixing Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines

U.K. study says expect more reactions from mixing Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Bob Ezrin celebrates his award for Producer of the Year at the JUNO Gala dinner in Calgary, Saturday, April 2, 2016. Ezrin is one of 24 people who will be honoured at the SOCAN Awards later this month for helping raise the profile of Canadian-made music.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
SOCAN Awards to toast 24 people who boosted Canadian content

SOCAN Awards to toast 24 people who boosted Canadian content

FILE - In tis March 15, 1999 file photo, The Staple Singers, from left, Pervis, Cleotha, Pops, Mavis, and Yvonne pose at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York. Pervis Staples, whose tenor voice complimented his father’s and sisters’ in The Staple Singers, died Thursday, May 6, 2021, at his home in Dalton, Ill., a spokesman for sister Mavis Staples, said Wednesday, May 12 , 2021. He was 85. (AP Photo/Albert Ferreira, File)
Pervis Staples, member of famed Staple Singers, dead at 85

Pervis Staples, member of famed Staple Singers, dead at 85

Charges filed after mummy of spiritual leader found in home

Charges filed after mummy of spiritual leader found in home

Jewish nationalist demonstrators look at a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward central Israel, in the Israeli town of Ramla, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The protesters had gathered in an attempted show of strength in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

Israel steps up Gaza offensive, kills senior Hamas figures

In this April 20, 2021, photo, House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks to reporters following a GOP meeting at the Capitol in Washington. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has set a Wednesday vote for removing Cheney from her No. 3 Republican leadership post after Cheney repeatedly challenged former President Donald Trump over his claims of widespread voting fraud and his role in encouraging supporters' Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
GOP dumps defiant Trump critic Cheney from top House post

GOP dumps defiant Trump critic Cheney from top House post

Most Read