Jamie Oliver has a shocking track record of
making people very, very angry, and often the anger is for good reason. You know, like the time some of his unfounded
comments cost hundreds of jobs? These are the times Jamie Oliver made more
enemies than friends. Jamie Oliver started his Food Revolution show
with the best of intentions: go into school districts and help them feed kids right. Everyone can agree that’s a noble goal. But when he headed to Huntington, West Virginia
in 2009, well, they weren’t exactly happy to see him. “Jamie what it is, I really wanna like you,
you’re a really likable guy, but I just don’t know if I trust you.” It was just after the city had been named
the unhealthiest in the country, and no one really wanted him putting them under the spotlight. There was more to the differences than just
that, though. It turned out that locals just didn’t want
some outsider coming in and berating them into eating healthy… especially in a manner
that was less than understanding. “This is going to kill your children.” Oliver’s comments succeeded in getting some
serious hate thrown Huntington’s way. The school’s food service director, Rhonda
McCoy, was bombarded with hate mail, and everyone was calling for her resignation. But here’s the thing: after Oliver swept through
and made his changes, the school was worse off. A whopping 77 percent of students didn’t like
or eat lunch anymore, and many were throwing it away. That’s a huge problem, because Huntington
was town devastated by a collapse in their manufacturing sector that relied on school
lunches to feed their kids. With no one buying lunches, staff started
to get laid off. Oh, and the food didn’t even meet the US Department
of Agriculture’s standards because it was too high in fat. The punchline? By 2017, McCoy had ditched Oliver’s changes,
revamped the school menu herself, and made it a healthy one that kids would actually
eat. Jamie Oliver and his wife, Jools, have a fairly
large brood of children, and in 2016 he made some comments that made it clear he believed
his fatherhood made him qualified to tell the women of the world just why they needed
to start breastfeeding their babies. He remarked, “If you breastfeed for more than six months,
women are 50 percent less likely to get breast cancer. When do you ever hear that? Never. It’s easy, it’s more convenient, it’s more
nutritious, it’s better, it’s free.” While some were quick to point out that more
breastfeeding mothers need to be given proper resources before breastfeeding could even
become something done 100 percent of the time, others condemned the fact that he called it
“easy.” For many women, it’s not a choice they can
make. There’s a lot of reasons women decide not
to breastfeed, and for some, it’s just physically impossible. Victoria Young wrote in The Telegraph about
not just the difficulties she had, but the guilt and feelings of inadequacy that were
devastating to her. That’s just a small part of why the world
told Oliver he needed to keep his mouth shut on the subject. Both men and women from all over called Oliver
out because of his comments, which were exactly the type that made countless women feel bad
about something they couldn’t necessarily help. In 2016, Jamie Oliver shared his recipe for
paella on Twitter. Paella, for anyone not up on their Spanish
cuisine, is typically made with shellfish, shrimp, fish, various vegetables, and served
over seasoned rice. Oliver made a big deal of his inclusion of
chorizo, and social media was outraged. To many in Spain, it wasn’t just a bad recipe,
it was taking a dish that embodied their culinary landscape and turning it into what some were
calling, quote, “rice with stuff.” One tweet summed up the controversy succinctly,
saying, quote, “this is an insult not only to our gastronomy but to our culture.” Add in the fact that Oliver’s recipe came
during massive political upheaval across Spain, and that didn’t help the rage… but it did
help unify an entire country against him. Later, Oliver appeared on The Graham Norton
Show, and of course, the topic came up. Oliver said it had gotten so bad he had received
death threats over the ill-advised recipe, but did he apologize? He had this to say: “By the way, just FYI… it tastes better
with chorizo. Trust me or don’t trust me!” “You’re starting it again, stop it!” In 2018, the UK kicked off a campaign to try
to lower the amount of sugar in the average person’s diet. The so-called sugar tax would raise the price
of soft drinks, and it goes without saying that Jamie Oliver was one of the campaign’s
staunchest supporters. Not long after the price hike kicked in, The
Telegraph reported he was already campaigning for extending the products covered to include
other high-sugar foods, but there was a bit of a catch. Way back in 2016, when he started celebrating
his war on sugar, people were quick to point out that he really should practice what he
preached. A quick look at the recipes on his website
showed an almost insane amount of sugar in some of them, right in plain sight and in
recipes aimed at children. Many of his drinks called for tablespoons
of sugar per drink, and his “Children’s Party Cake” contained three times the recommended
amount of daily sugar per slice. There was a supposedly “healthy” breakfast
that had more sugar in it than a bowl of Frosties, and he even had a recipe for gammon ham that
called for four liters of cola. Basically, people saw some hypocrisy at work,
and they didn’t let Oliver get away with it. Stop by a Shell service station in the UK,
and you’re likely to see something surprising: the Jamie Oliver Deli. Oliver worked with
the gas giant to create and sell around 80 different products, but not everyone is impressed
with the partnership. When it was announced in 2018, environmental
groups were quick to call him out on the apparent hypocrisy. Shell, The Guardian says, has been linked
to everything from destroying the environment and contributing to climate change to involving
themselves in billion-dollar bribes, charges which Shell denies. But given that Oliver has been lauded by the
UN for his work as a, quote, “environment champion,” it seems like the two are completely
at odds, which is what led people to accuse him of selling out for a nearly $6.3 million
payday. Oliver addressed the controversy by pointing
out that he was just making food available to people, saying, “I think I’ve earned trust over the last 20
years and I would hope that people think I’ve thought about it correctly. […] My job’s to work for the British public
and push Shell to be the best we can be and also to disrupt the market.” In 2013, Jamie Oliver was kicking off a new
show called Save With Jamie. That’s all well and good, but in the run-up
to the show he made some shockingly tone-deaf statements about poverty. Critics were quick to point out that talk
like that is especially gauche when your net worth is in the millions. Among the comments that raised particular
ire was his condemnation of a family struggling to make ends meet, who were eating, quote,
“chips and cheese out of Styrofoam containers, and behind them is a massive TV,” leading
Oliver to suggest that the family didn’t have their priorities right when it came to finances. Jack Monroe from The Independent called the
comments, quote, “not only out of touch but support[ive] of dangerous and damaging myths.” But the backlash didn’t stop there. Oliver went on to lament how he couldn’t transport
Britain’s poor to the Mediterranean, where he claimed even the poorest people ate really
well. He sang the praises of affordable mussels
and pasta and fresh tomatoes, while ignoring the fact that in 2010, Barcelona had a higher
percentage of citizens relying on food banks than Britain did. And things there were dire. Reporting by The New Statesman said that many
couldn’t even afford to cook what they’d been given, relying on social dining rooms to serve
them their hot meals after their gas and electricity were cut off. As they put it, “poverty isn’t picturesque
by the Mediterranean either.” You’ve heard of “pink slime,” right? Did you know you can thank Jamie Oliver for
popularizing the whole idea? That’s according to a $1.2 billion lawsuit
filed against ABC for airing the episode of Food Revolution where he made the comments. The lawsuit was filed by Beef Products, Inc.,
a processing firm in South Dakota who had their products targeted and condemned as being
filled with ammonia. The negative publicity had catastrophic consequences
for the company — stores started dropping their products, and that led to an 80 percent
drop in sales. Three of the company’s four plants were closed,
and 700 people lost their jobs. According to The Independent, a huge part
of the problem was Oliver’s claims. “This is not fit for human consumption.” They also weren’t happy with his demonstration
of how meat was processed — in lieu of having access to the actual equipment, Oliver’s show
used a washing machine and household ammonia. All of that, the company said, was grossly
misleading. Surprisingly, Oliver wasn’t even named on
the lawsuit, which ABC and Disney reportedly paid $177 million to settle. It’s not just people in his native Britain
that have a problem with Jamie Oliver. In 2014, he outraged Australia after he teamed
up with the grocery store Woolworths for an advertising campaign promoting the importance
of produce. That’s not offensive in itself. But problems started when it came out that
the cost of the campaign was being passed along to the farmers and growers it was supposed
to be benefiting. They were being charged 40 cents on each crate
of vegetables, and that adds up fast. One farmer found himself faced with owing
about $200,000 USD over the course of the six weeks the campaign was running. Representatives appealed to Oliver to side
with the farmers and ask Woolworths to stop requiring the payments. Smart Company says that Oliver responded he
was just an employee of the company and didn’t have any say over business decisions, while
Woolworths said the payment was completely voluntary. After an investigation by the Australian Consumer
and Competition Commission Woolworths was cleared of wrongdoing, to the outrage of many
farmers and their representatives. When Jamie Oliver took a stand against the
way in which many commercially sold chickens have historically been raised, he made it
clear he was really against it. He characterized established practices as
being morally wrong, and called on viewers to change the way they shop to put pressure
on the industry to be more responsible. Where’s the problem? That came when it was revealed he had signed
a multi-million-dollar deal with the massive UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s. The director of the animal rights organization
Animal Aid put it this way: “If he’s going to lecture the public he needs
first to stop profiting from animal exploitation.” For Sainsbury’s part, the company confirmed
plans to move to conform to food standards put forward by the RSPCA, but also claimed
that those standards only applied to eggs, and that they had no plans to change their
practices regarding the 90 million chickens they sold annually. Later that same year, in 2008, Sainsbury’s
announced that they were expanding their animal welfare programs to cover chickens, too. It was a move which Oliver partially took
credit for. Jamie Oliver is an equal opportunity annoyer,
and in 2017 it was Iceland’s turn to take issue with him. It started when he posted a photo of the place
he was sourcing salmon from for his new restaurant: the Arnarlax salmon farm. What followed was a deluge of comments condemning
his support of the controversial farm. One of the biggest problems environmentalists
and farmers had with Arnarlax was that they had imported Norwegian salmon, and there were
serious fears that the fish would escape and do permanent damage to the environment and
native species. While Oliver’s social media team worked to
reassure concerned consumers, people weren’t buying into the reassurances, and boycotts
against Oliver’s businesses were threatened. It should be a reaction he’s used to by now. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
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