Jamie Oliver Urges Trump Not to Remove Michelle Obama's Vegetable Garden

Greg Zabilski/ABC
Jamie Oliver

The celebrity chef, speaking at Davos, talked about his plans to fight obesity and diabetes and how Brexit led to a "missed opportunity" for health reform.

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver discussed the fate of Michelle Obama’s celebrated White House vegetable garden once Donald Trump takes office, saying it would be a public relations mistake for the president-elect to remove it.

“It ain’t going nowhere,” he said when moderator Arianna Huffington asked him about the south lawn plot during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Because he’s like a comedian isn’t he? He’s just kind of regurgitating the stuff that works, and his family are too cued up on the PR to know what works.”

“There’s a symbolic visual. If you cut down that garden you are cutting down hope. And he won’t do that, whether he believes in it or not,” Oliver added.

He also said he'd like to see Trump take to the kitchen. “When you know the basics of growing and cooking and — fact — we could do with that on the planet right now. I want to see Donald Trump growing some stuff and cooking some stuff. If not, I’m building my bunker,” he joked.

The Food Revolution star also alluded to Trump’s media mastery and motivation. “He’s not stupid, well,” he said, to laughter from the audience. “But he’s got where he’s got for a reason.… The thing is, that he likes a dollar.”

In contrast he called former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a "genius."

Oliver went on to discuss the challenges the U.K. faces as it prepares to leave the European Union in the wake of Brexit. He said the U.K. would be put in danger as it leaves behind Europe's set of food safety standards and regulations, which he called “one of the safest on the planet.”

He said a quickie trade deal between the two countries would be a mistake because of America's use of hormones, GMOs and pesticides that are banned in Europe. "No disrespect, but we don’t want a lot of their gear unless it comes up to our standards,” he said. “My fear is that we do a deal to make our lives easier now and we’re going to be flooded with stuff that we don’t want our kids to eat.”

The celebrity chef spent months in the U.S. investigating the food system and obesity on his ABC show in 2010, and has since become an outspoken advocate of health and an anti-sugary drinks crusader.

He said he had been working with former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government on a comprehensive anti-obesity plan that had been near completion and was disappointed by the stripped plan that was delivered by Theresa May after she took over the position. He called the change “a missed opportunity.”

He also contrasted the progress that McDonald’s U.K. has made on many issues with McDonald’s in the U.S. He credited the changes the company has made to Britain’s strong history of documentaries and a media that holds corporations to task. “The tension has to keep people honest. Out of sight out of mind people don’t care. When it’s in the conversation we evolve,” he said adding that more agitation was needed in the U.S.

The celebrity chef also said that he has honed down his many businesses from diverse restaurants, publishing and production companies into one strategy to fight obesity and diabetes. He also said that he is working on creating awards for companies and executives across the globe that join the fight, and alluded that the initiative may be in cooperation with Davos next year.

He added that while the focus in Davos is on commerce and economics, we can improve food from a business perspective. “I just think that we always look at oil and banking and selling of arms as these big industries, but the biggest industry on the planet is food," he said.

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