Celebrity chef and nutritious-food aficionado Jamie Oliver received the 2012 Healthy Cup Award on Wednesday.
Presented by the Harvard School of Public Health, this award recognizes an individual “who has made a tremendous contribution to public health and improving nutrition throughout the world,” said Julio Frenk, dean of HSPH.
About 500 people attended the sold-out event, which took place at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School.
Oliver, the host of the Emmy Award-winning show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” was honored for his advocacy for healthy eating and cooking, as well as for his fight against childhood obesity.
At the award ceremony, Oliver lifted the silver Healthy Cup over his head as he thanked the audience for supporting his mission to improve global public health.
“To have this [award] means a lot,” he said.
Oliver is known for a campaign he began in 2004 to improve school lunch programs in the U.S. and the U.K., according to Walter C. Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at HSPH.
While on stage, Oliver asked the packed audience to imagine what a society more focused on healthy eating habits would look like.
“Imagine a world where mothers would not feed bottles of Coca-Cola to babies,” he said, “where the ingredients would not read like scientific equations, where children and parents gardened veggies together.”
In order to raise public awareness of healthy eating, Oliver created Food Revolution Day, an event dedicated to bringing people together to “share information...and to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues,” according to the event’s website.
“What’s beautiful about it is that people really loved the excuse to stand up for real food,” he said. “My wish is that in the next three years, a real, real food revolution will happen.”
Oliver also encouraged people to be proactive about their eating habits, adding that he believes that smartphone applications that provide healthy recipes and educate individuals about nutrition can play an important role in the future of this movement.
Oliver, who said that he believes that “modern day health is basic human rights,” added that he focuses his activism on empowerment and education.
“My uncompromised belief is that, whether we are British, American, or any dude on the planet, we can make great decisions if we are informed properly,” he said. “That gives me hope.”
The biannual Healthy Cup Award was created six years ago by HSPH’s Nutrition Round Table, a group of leaders from the business and food worlds that support research in nutrition and school meals.
Past award recipients have included U.S. Senator Tom Harkin in 2010 for putting wellness and health awareness on the American agenda, Kenneth H. Cooper in 2008 for his role as the “father of aerobics,” and businessman Lee Iacocca in 2006 for his efforts to find a cure for diabetes.
—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.