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Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, and Your Tummy

Now, don't go getting excited -- for one thing, this is radio, and ''naked'' is entirely in your ears, and your imagination.

For another, ''naked'' refers to the food, not the chef. Chef and TV food evangelist Jamie Oliver has managed to change the way Britons think about their plates, and to some extent their bodies, with his campaign for clean, honest, home-cooked food. He's now bringing his TV crusade to American television, starting with a show in Huntington, West Virginia, a town with serious problems of obesity and illness among adults and children; I played a moment where he holds up vegetables in front of elementary school students who -- I kid you not -- don't know a potato from a tomato. French fries they recognize; the potato they come from -- not a clue.

He was great on the subject, as were our other two experts on childhood obesity, one from the University of North Carolina and the other from the St. John's health clinic, where, as you'll remember, we spent a good chunk of one program earlier this year. Childhood obesity is a lot easier to prevent than it is to fix, and the factors are so many it's hard to know where to begin -- families who think of food as love, parents who can't find or afford healthy food or who don't know how to prepare it, schools that serve meals that are heavy on the unholy trio of salt/sugar/fat. First Lady Michelle Obama is completely on board with this, and that kind of star power, along with Jamie Oliver's, might make the day to day work of people like my guests, as well as nutritionists and others, a lot easier.

We didn't have nearly enough time to get to all of your calls about why the protests over health care changes have been so venomous, and occasionally so violent -- bricks hurled through the windows of Democratic members of Congress, faxes of nooses, one of those white-powder envelopes and incidents of spitting and the yelling of epithets. At least one Republican member of Congress, Ohio's Jean Schmidt, got a vulgarity-riddled voice mail message accusing her of racism.

Why is this happening? As one caller pointed out, this country's mechanisms for self-governing have made it the envy of the world. Power changes hands peacefully, not at gunpoint. Could this be a turning point for that, or will tempers cool as the health care overhaul settles in as a done deal?

On Monday, it's batter up with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who's been doing better at pitching Congress for transit money than he has been at persuading the city council, the board of supervisors and a lot of Angelenos on a need for a DWP rate hike. Listen in and let us know whether he's persuaded you --

Patt Morrison

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