Jamie's Ministry of Food


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Welcome to Ipswich, population 180,000 right on Brisbane's doorstep, it's one of Australia's fastest growing regions but officially it's getting smaller, well at least the people who live here are!

3 years ago it was one of Australia's fattest cities and second only behind Mount Isa in Queensland with 62.4 per cent of all adults overweight or obese.
Since then locals have been shedding weight and an unwanted reputation helping the city drop nine spots on the fat table to 11th with 60.3 per cent.

In people terms, that's 4 thousand winners in the battle of the bulge.
I'd like to think the ministry of food definitely played a part in that.

Jamie Oliver may have only visited this city once, but like he's done in the UK and the United States, the celebrity chef is helping turn the tide of obesity through his ministry of food.

It's all about building skills, knowledge and confidence and getting people back to basics in the kitchen. Ipswich is home to one of only two of the community focused programs the other is in Geelong, Victoria. There are also 2 mobile ministries.

We're just trying to get people back to basics, eating more fruit and vegetables and fresh quality produce and having some fun in the kitchen.
Since his food ministry opened, 18 hundred Ipswich locals have taken classes to learn how to cook the healthy meals with which Oliver made his name.

Alicia Peardon is the Australian director of Jamie's ministry of food.
“Mostly our classes have been full and our participation rates have been fantastic.”

“Bonus is you've already lost a couple of kilos? yep.

Tony Bamford and his daughter in law Marcia Pluske have just finished a 10 week course each costing 100 dollars.

“What was your motivation to come to ministry of food?” Asked Jamie
“To learn how to cook properly.” Said Tony & Marcia

“It means they can now create calorie crunching salads like this. We have a bit of chilli, also Spanish onions it's very nice and very hot.” Said Jamie
Laughs aside these classes are helping participants with some serious lifestyle changes.

”What was your diet previously?” Asked Jamie
“Pretty bad, lot of fast food and greasy food.” Said Neil & Marcia Plushke.

That applies to Tony too. Look at fast food and steer away from it and there are many positive flow-on affects with Marcia also cooking healthy meals for her partner and two children.

“If I can get an awesome and thumbs up from kids I must be doing good!” Said Marcia

Certainly if people are more informed and educated about what they're eating and how much their eating, then that can help.

Alicia Peardon says her UK based boss sees Ipswich as a vital ingredient in his fat-busting campaign. Very much across how we are progressing here in Australia and very keen to hear about how it's advancing and growing. And with waist lines shrinking there are plans to expand.

“Our dream is to open up more around the country, if someone like me can do it, anyone can!” Said Neil & Marcia