Friday, October 7, 2016

Jamie Talking Food Change in Canada #JamieSpeaks4FoodRev...

It has been an excitement-filled few days here in Toronto for the whole Food Revolution Toronto team with world-renowned chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver in town. A key focus for his visit was to speak to our prime minister Justin Trudeau on some of the health and food concerns we have as Canadians and push for change. After a private event dinner at his restaurant Jamie Oliver's Italian in Yorkdale Mall, Toronto ambassadors had a chance to chat about some of the great work that has been taking place in our community at large, our concerns and challenges and what needs to be done for a brighter, healthier future for all Canadians. Jamie listened. Jamie really cares. And it was an honour he came all the way from Britain to fight for us!

In Trudeau's mandate letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott last November, he outlined plans to introduce new restrictions on marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children and improving food labels. "Everyone's watching your prime minister at the moment," said Oliver in a Facebook Live earlier this week. "Countries around the world are wondering what he's going to do. The gossip is that he's going to do something really, really good."

I have never been big on politics, and for the first time with Trudeau leading office, I BELIEVE. We're all so excited to see the outcomes of his talk this week. Our Food Revolution team is right here ready to do the work that needs to be done and band together for this good food fight! As Canadians, everyone can do our bit and work towards change!

As an ambassador for two years plus, this is the moment I have been waiting for!

With ambassadors Linda Matarasso, Denise Livotti and Hema Ramsingh
Photo Credit: Linda Matarasso

With Chef Dimitra Konstantakou
Photo Credit: Linda Matarasso 

Some of the delicious appetizers dished during the cocktail prelude to dinner.

Top left clockwise: Polenta fries, mini buffalo mozzarella and tomato puree, antipasti spread with Artisan fennel salami, 
mortadella, prosciutto, olives & pickles, grilled marinated peppers & rainbow slaw and garlic bread with rosemary.

Dinner at the table consisted more shareable antipasti and individual mains.

Famous Prawn Linguine and Pan-fried Fish with Tomatoes and Olives

Photo Credit: Christine Rams

It takes a village-- we are that village! #foodrevTO

Photo Credit: Dimitra Konstantakou

The following day, we were invited to a Press Conference on Childhood Obesity at the Evergreen Brick Works with Jamie on the panel along with leading health experts. Childhood obesity levels in Canada is spiralling out of control-- the numbers have tripled since 1981, with almost one in three children overweight or obese. This pushed Canada into sixth for obese children among industrialized countries.

This is the first time we are facing the sad reality that first generation of children that may have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents. Canada has an opportunity to become a global leader with a comprehensive approach to reducing childhood obesity. A discussion that exuded passion and energy and left many of us feeling exhilarated and positive just before Jamie's much-anticipated phone call with our prime minister. You can also watch Jamie's video message to him here.

Photo Credit and with: Kasia Grzesik

Jamie discussed a comprehensive Canadian childhood obesity strategy with the Honourable Senator Nancy Greene Raine (second from right) and members of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition-- Dr. Tom Warshawski, Pediatrician, 
Nathan Sing, Youth Advocate, Journalism Major, Ryerson University, Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing Officer from the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer with the Canadian Diabetes Association.

"Change happens because you fight for it. Health happens because you fight for it." Powerful words from Nick Saul President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada at Evergreen and moderator for the panelists (far left).

Photo Credit: Linda Matarasso

A topic that was raised: Health- is it a personal/parental responsibility or a public one? Both. It was unanimous that personal responsibility comes from being conscious and from clarity. Power is knowledge! If we are equipped with the right and honest information, we can use our common sense to empower ourselves to make the right decisions for us and our families. And if the message, label, information is easily construed, it causes confusion and we relinquish control on some of our decisions to the sway of mass social marketing and advertising, especially to our kids. Real food vs. packaged foods? Ultimately the consumer's choice, but be transparent, make the necessary information crystal clear so we can jostle fairly on the same leveled playing field.

My biggest take away from the hour discussion-- Eat and teach fresh real food! Food is not here to entertain us (think Fruit Loops). We can lead the way Canada-- Yes. We. Can.

I am personally enthralled with the savvy youth of today and the power they have to make a difference to the next generation. Nathan Sing, the young man to Jamie's left in photo was born in Vancouver, B.C. He is currently enrolled in his first year of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. Growing up he was inundated with access to processed foods and influenced by "the perfect body" ads. After overcoming an eating disorder, and undergoing a complete mental and physical transformation three years ago, his passion for health, nutrition and fitness flourished. He has adopted a plant-based vegan diet and is an active part of The Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition. For more on Nathan's captivating story read Manipulating and Uncontrolled Marketing Puts Young People At Risk

I hope to interview Nathan in a follow up to his progress in staying healthy while eating a plant-based diet during school. He will be starting a YouTube channel where he will share healthy recipes and ways to stay healthy in University. Stay tuned.

Millions of children getting too much of the wrong food while millions more get too little good food. 

Obesity and hunger live side by side across the world... WOW, that's a MASSIVE problem isn't it?

The staggering sad reality of childhood obesity. 

"This is the first generation of kids expected to live a shorter life than their parents
because of the kind of diet-related disease that we've got around us.
" Jamie Oliver

Earlier this week, Jamie rallied on social media to find out what Canadian parents and kids want to see changed in Canada's food and health landscape. To date he has over 330,000 views and received responses from Canadian voices everywhere. One demand we were hearing and seeing over and over again, and a unanimous one for the Food Revolution team, is the importance of bringing back food education into our school curriculum! With the correct information we can completely empower Canadians to make healthy choices and put a stop to diet-related diseases! 

The time is now, won't you also step up to the plate? 
Growing, cooking, teaching, sharing and advocating real food-- let's all do our bit!

With all the right noise, we hope our country's leader Mr.Trudeau will do the right thing and bring back food education to promote how crucial it is for the sake of our health! It's time to turn words into action, and I am optimistic. For the rest of us, let's do our part and spread the awareness of food education and the importance of cooking and eating real food. And take the rightful health back for our strong true north Canadians! 

To follow the great work we have been doing in our communities and to get updates on The Food Revolution's activities and more on Jamie's messages, like us on our Facebook page Food Revolution Toronto

UPDATE: Here is Jamie's follow-up post from his positive talks with our prime minister. And an article by Jamie with the Globe and Mail on What Canada Should Do to Tackle Childhood Obesity. Excited to hear Mr. Trudeau is on board in this #foodrevolution

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