Chicken & Egg Issue 11 - page 41

As a regular feature, we like to peek our beaks into the coops of chicken-
loving celebrities and ask them to describe a dozen of their poultry
preferences. In this 10th anniversary year second edition we talk to Jamie
Oliver – celebrity chef, restaurateur and BHWT Patron. Jamie is well known for
his many TV series, including The Naked Chef, Jamie’s School Dinners and
Jamie’s Everyday Super Food as well as Jamie’s Fowl Dinners in which the
British Hen Welfare Trust featured and which led to Jamie becoming a Patron
of the charity in 2008.
1. Jamie, you are well known for your global campaigning for improved nutrition and the
use of fresh, local food rustled up from scratch. What drives this passion?
I think becoming a father 13 years ago really focussed my attention on what we were
teaching our kids, which led me to really think about what we, as adults, knew and didn't
know about food, and what was ultimately making us unhealthy. Over the years, I've
been lucky enough to have access to some really smart people in the fields of food,
nutrition and health, and the things they tell you are really scary. Just in the UK, we're at
the point where the NHS is crumbling because of preventable diet-related disease – little
kids having to have all their teeth taken out under general anaesthetic because
they've been rotted by too much sugar; 135 people with type-2 diabetes having feet
and limbs amputated every single week. We're in a bad state, and we need to get back
to a much healthier relationship with food. That's what's driving me to make a difference.
2. Some of your campaigns and programmes have courted controversy. Have these
helped or hindered your aims?
I think they've all caused controversy, but you can't possibly please everyone and there
will always be people who disagree with what you're doing, even if it's the most sensible
thing in the world that you're suggesting. Probably the one time that everyone got
behind me was school dinners, and even then there were a few people having a moan
that they couldn't have their turkey twizzlers any more. It certainly doesn't hinder me. If i
don't get criticism from someone, I’m clearly not doing the right thing!
3. Hen-keeping – childhood passion or chef’s necessity?
I never had them as a kid so it's a new thing for me, but I absolutely love having them
around and so do the kids. We have about 40 hens these days, most of them ex-battery.
4: Your children have lovely, unique names (Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, Petal Blossom and
Buddy Bear). Naming children is one thing, but do you think naming hens is silly?!
Personally, I haven't named any of the hens. We used to have one called Captain
Mainwaring, but he came to us with that name.
5: The British Hen Welfare Trust – Why did you decide to become a patron?
I think the British Hen Welfare Trust does a fantastic and important job. I first came across
the charity when I was making the Fowl Dinners programme, and I was trying to
encourage people to go higher welfare when it came to chicken and eggs. For me, part
of being a meat-eater is all about respecting the animals that are bred for our food, so
it's important for them to be cared for and well treated. The BHWT has a vital role to play.
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