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TED Prize to Celebrity Chef to Fight Obesity, Build Food Movement

Nicholas Zifcak

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. (Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver won the $100,000 TED (Technology,
Entertainment, Design) Prize at the annual TED conference on Wednesday.
Oliver, author of several books, spearheaded campaigns and TV shows to
get people cooking and eating healthier food. The TED Prize is awarded
to people who are passionate about a cause. The award is meant to help
winners fulfill a wish for the world.

"I wish for your help
to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about
food, inspire families to cook again, and empower people everywhere to
fight obesity," said Oliver at the conference, which CNN broadcast live.

With his latest project, Food Revolution USA, Oliver is already working
to make his TED Prize wish a reality. Food Revolution USA is a cooking
show based in Huntington, West Virginia, where Oliver works with school
cafeteria staff and local families. He wants to inspire them to enter
the kitchen and cook with fresh foods. The show's goal is to change the
way we eat at home, in schools, and at work.

Oliver wants to
create a movement to change how people eat. He hopes to do so with a
network of community kitchens and a traveling theater to teach kids
about food and cooking.

In an interview with CNN, he
emphasized the importance of educating children about food, "knowing
what stuff is, being comfortable with it," empowering them to make good
decisions. One of his campaigns was to improve school lunch programs in
his native England.

The traveling theater would entertain and
also train parents and professionals. He also wants the movement to
bring people together online to fight obesity. He said the movement
must also challenge the food industry if it is going to change the
culture of junk food.

About the food industry he said business
and "money will always win, and they are happy to sell you rubbish, or
they are happy to sell you good stuff, but ultimately the public have
to decide."

It is time America learns "caring can be commercial," said Oliver.

At the TED conference Oliver listed the help needed to start the
movement to educate children about food. After his presentation,
audience members at the conference stood up to offer resources from
office space, to Web marketing, Web site development, food, publicity,
and automobiles.

On Tuesday first lady Michelle Obama
announced a new plan to fight child obesity in America. She cited
statistics that one in three children is overweight in the United
States. For the first time, this generation of children is expected to
live shorter lives than their parents.

Working in the
kitchen of his parent's pub from a young age, Jamie Oliver attended
culinary school. He was working at London's River Cafe when he landed
his own TV show. Since then he has hosted TV shows focused on teaching
people to cook and eat healthier foods. Despite being dyslexic, he has
published several cookbooks.

TED is a nonprofit
organization, "devoted to ideas worth spreading," according to its Web
site. The organization hosts an annual conference in California and one
in the U.K. called TEDGlobal. It provides a platform for interesting
and innovative speakers. The TED prize has been awarded to three people
each year since 2005, people with the passion and potential to change
the world in a specific way. This year the TED Prize was cut back to
one winner. TED conferences originally focused on three fields,
technology, entertainment, and design. TED conferences have since grown
in scope.

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