Ambassador of the Month: Teaching Life Changing Skills in LA

Ambassador Of The Month: Teaching Life Changing Skills In LA

Tue 26 Aug 2014

Story by Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)
 

Introducing our August Ambassador of the Month!

Ambassador of the Month is a feature which highlights the amazing volunteers we have around the world. Ambassadors who have been chosen show an unwavering desire for change in their communities. They are fighting for real food and food education skills and donate their time every month to make this happen.

Our ambassador for August is Joe Selph from Los Angeles, California, USA.
Joe has been a voluntary Food Revolution ambassador since October 2013 and has long been passionate about cooking with healthy foods. Joe has always encourage healthy eating with his friends and co-workers, includes simple recipes in his work newsletters, participates in company wellness initiatives and holds cooking demos for friends and neighbors using home grown or locally purchased produced. Please meet Joe!

Tell us a little about why you wanted to get involved in the Food Revolution

I have been a huge fan of Jamie Oliver since his first series, “Naked Chef”. His approach to healthy eating with a focus on cooking simple, flavorful dishes at home using locally sourced fruits and vegetables was something I could immediately relate to. And when “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” debuted, it immediately took me back to my childhood growing up in the south where bad eating habits and obesity were all too common. It was at that point that I knew I needed to spring into action and do everything I could to promote healthy eating. I immediately went to his website to sign the petition and join the national movement to change the way America eats.

When I was growing up in Tennessee, my parents always had a garden, and I fondly remember accompanying my mother to pick fresh vegetables that would become our dinner that night. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized how different my family was from others in our area. My mother always avoided cooking fried food (with the exception of the occasional fried chicken dinner), preferring instead to rely on the bounty from the garden. I hung out in the kitchen every chance I could, watching her prepare food in her own special way, not realizing how different it was from the usual southern fare. Sadly she passed away when I was 12 years old. But I took what she taught me and began cooking dinner for my family several nights a week. They still tell me that no one can replicate mom’s food as well as I can.

How has the Ambassador Program helped you accomplish your goals?

It is amazing to be able to connect with other Ambassadors around the world who share the same passion about food. We are constantly sharing ideas, recipes and photos with one another. That connection keeps me motivated on a daily basis. It fuels my passion to connect with others in my community and share my knowledge.

What have you been able to achieve since being an Ambassador?

My crowning achievement was being able to work on the Big Rig Mobile Teaching Kitchen for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation! That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We taught 70 classes in a community where obesity and diabetes are all too common. To be able to show people of all ages how easy and simple it is to prepare a meal from scratch was life changing for me.

It is easy to forget that not everyone has easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their neighborhoods. And if they do, many of them are clueless on how to prepare a meal because they were brought up in a home where pre-packaged meals and fast food are the norm. I was able to teach them how to cook, eat and clean in under an hour. And it warms my heart to know I made a difference in so many peoples lives through that program.

What food initiatives are you currently working on in your community?

I am very involved with our Wellness initiative at work. We have a very large, very diverse workforce. It is our goal to educate and inspire our employees to lead a healthy lifestyle. We offer everything from fitness walks, to yoga and meditation classes, to seminars on healthy eating. We also offer a healthy option at our employee restaurants at a lower price point to encourage healthy eating. Most recently, we offered a cooking class on incorporating super foods into your diet. It was very well received and we hope to make this a regular offering on our Wellness calendar.

Anything else about the real food movement in LA?

We are very fortunate in Los Angeles that we live in a climate that allows us to grow food year round. In my neighborhood, we have several backyard gardens and we love to share our bounty with one another. There are also an abundance of community gardens all over the Los Angeles area. We are also fortunate to have numerous farmers markets with which you can find fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. There is still a lot of work to do to get fresh food into our lower income communities and that is an area that I am pushing hard for.

Get a list of all of our global ambassadors at www.foodrevolutionday.com/ambassadors

The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)
@jamiefoodfdnUSA

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