Story by Camilla Cameron
To date, 16 UK councils have expressed interest in launching their own Ministry of Food Centres. It is very encouraging to hear that the positive effects of the television programme and book Jamie’s Ministry of Food are still being felt long after the camera’s stopped rolling. Jamie’s Ministry of Food was a four part series that aired on Channel 4 in the UK. The series documented Jamie’s fight to get the nation cooking again. The show documents Jamie’s challenges as he teaches basic cooking skills to a group of people in the town of Rotherham. The key to the movement was that Jamie than encouraged his students to pass on the recipe that they had mastered to friends, families and neighbours. To get to his message across Jamie set up a food centre in Rotherham that is now run by the local council.
The girls who work in the food centre have now built up strong relationships with many local schools, numerous local charities and interest groups and run classes with them all. At the moment they are holding around 20 classes during the week, and at weekends the centre also hosts large-scale public demonstrations, attracting between 60 -70 people at a time. In amongst all of this, they – and their team of wonderful volunteers – also find time to take part in larger local events such as National Farmers’ Breakfast Week where they can show hundreds of people how easy it can be to cook delicious and nutritious meals.
Various online initiatives including a Jamie’s Ministry of Food website played a key role in driving Jamie’s message forward and encouraging the nation to get back into the kitchen and learn how to cook. Nearly 1 million Jamie’s Ministry of Food recipes have been downloaded via I-Tunes and 21,500 have signed the petition on Jamie’s website asking for a food centre to be set up in their town. To date the site has received over 60,000 unique visitors every month.
More than just a campaign, Jamie’s Ministry of Food has become a major movement that has resulted in people transforming their lives through learning the basics of cooking at home. The world is a far different place than when Jamie shot the series and since then it has become increasingly evident that people are questioning the food that they eat and wanting to save money by learning to cook at home.
Jamie’s Ministry of Food (the book) is published in Canada in May, France in August, and the USA in October