TORONTO - Jamie Oliver is calling on Canadians to push Justin Trudeau to develop a strategy for child nutrition, including more education, a crackdown on junk food advertising and better labelling on food products.
"You're in a really exciting time because you've got a new prime minister and that means hope and possibility, but no one's talking about what the strategy is for child health in this country," said the British celebrity chef during an interview in Toronto.
"I think that's a bit worrying.... Should all kids in Canada learn how to grow and cook at school? Because they should. And to not is wrong, and to not is damaging to the economy in the future."
The outspoken advocate for better food education around the globe thinks Canadians should demand more from the new incoming Liberal government.
"The moms and dads and the teenagers of Canada need to ask for that because if we don't ask, we'll just crack on with work and that's a problem."
Oliver was in Toronto to promote his new cookbook, "Everyday Super Food" (HarperCollins), and TV show, "Jamie's Super Food."
Although he's not averse to using bacon and beef in his recipes, he "completely supports" the World Health Organization's recent declaration that processed meats raise the risk of colon and stomach cancer and that red meat is probably also harmful.
"The message from the World Health Organization is 'Wind it back, guys. You're eating too much of it,'" Oliver said.
"Processed meats are a joy and a pleasure," he added, but they can be high in salt, fat, and preservatives.
"Bit of bacon for breakfast, bit of ham in a sandwich for lunch, and a nugget or a burger for dinner. We repeat that and it causes disease and that's what they're saying."
In his new cookbook and TV series, which airs Sunday on Food Network Canada, Oliver focuses on using simple everyday ingredients that have health benefits when cooked together.
"There's no golden bullet. There's no one thing that fixes everything or has everything. Even things that are very, very good and nutrient dense are not complete in everything you need, so it's really about the context of bringing a cluster of various things together to make a wicked dish," said Oliver, who also announced the first Jamie's Italian restaurant in North America is expected to open in December at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
"So super food to me is food that's balanced, controlled calories, nutrient dense and food that's going to fill you with good stuff and ultimately make you feel better."
In the TV episodes, Oliver visits places identified as having people who live significantly longer and healthier lives, including Okinawa, Japan, the Greek island of Ikaria, and Costa Rica. Back in the United Kingdom, he incorporated the diet secrets he uncovered into recipes for the show and cookbook.
In the process, he said he dropped some weight and got an energy boost.
"I think, ultimately, it made me a bit more streetwise about making myself the most happy and optimal that I can be. Probably, like most people, I just want to be a good dad, a good husband, a good boss and feel good."
He also suggested that people aren't taught enough about how to shop smart and it's at the supermarket that mistakes generally occur.
"Trade up from, say, white rice to brown, couscous, whole breads. Fibre is the next big thing over the next 10 years, so go for it," he said.
"If you get wiser, you live longer, you'll be happier, you'll probably do better in your job and you will probably be on the planet for a bit longer."