Jamie Oliver's working class diet advice backfires
TV chef suggests poor families should get creative with "leftover stale bread"
JAMIE OLIVER’S disapproval of the dietary habits of low income families has been criticised as hypocritical and opportunistic.
The celebrity chef, who is worth an estimated £150m, took aim at families who spend more money on big televisions than healthy food, citing a scene in his 2008 TV series Ministry of Food in which a mother and her child are seen eating chips and cheese out of plastic containers in front of their enormous TV. “It just didn’t weigh up,” Oliver told the Radio Times.
He also said that people from deprived countries outside the UK managed to both cook and eat “some of the most inspirational food”.
"The flavour comes from a cheap cut of meat,” he said, “or something that’s slow-cooked, or an amazing texture’s been made out of leftover stale bread."
The comments were met with ridicule online. Comments posted on Twitter pointed out that Oliver's own recipes were too costly for many families to afford. They also noted the celebrity chef’s willingness to promote ready meals as a paid spokesman for supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.
Imran Hussein, Head of Policy at Child Policy Action Group, told The Independent that low incomes rather than a lack of education were to blame for poor diets. “For many families it's low income which gets in the way of healthy eating,” he said.
Hussein pointed to statistics that show parents of poor children struggling to afford fresh fruit and evidence that demonstrates that families spend more on healthy food as their incomes rise.
But he also said that Oliver had made a “huge” contribution to improving school meals and is “right to say that healthy food doesn't always have to be expensive”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph Mic Wright dismissed Oliver’s comments as a blatant publicity stunt for his upcoming Channel 4 TV series, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals.
“It’s no accident that he has swung into the headlines just in time for his show’s first airing,” he said. “He’s an activist on a timer, popping up when there’s a new book, a new TV show, a new restaurant to promote.”
The Telegraph’s readers took the opposing view in an online poll in which 90 per cent of respondents agreed with Oliver’s stance that people shouldn’t “spend money on expensive TV sets if [they] can’t even afford healthy food”.
In The Guardian, Alex Andreou took issue with the notion of recipes using stale bread.
“Poor people’s bread does not go stale, Jamie. It goes mouldy," Andreou wrote. "And if you had ever been poor, you would know that.” ·