In a recent interview with the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver stated that ‘Food is the most basic issue […] it’s about health […] someone has to take responsibility for this. Someone has to keep shouting’. Oliver’s statement reflects his position as a chef, a public pedagogue and, importantly for the purposes of this article, a celebrity. Oliver’s is one of many voices that have entered the public realm to educate the public about the dangers of unhealthy eating. In this article we discuss the work of three celebrities: Jamie Oliver. Sesame Street Workshop’s character Cookie Monster and Australian food celebrity Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation for schools. Whilst acknowledging that these three food pedagogues represent only a few of the voices that seek to intervene in the food consumption habits of citizens in contemporary times, they can be understood as a public pedagogical response fuelled by the obesity epidemic. We argue that whilst on the surface it appears that our three food pedagogues offer benevolently inspired propositions, we understand such posturing as deeply political. Specifically we are interested in examining the educative effects of these messages and their troubling implications for how individuals understand and experience food-related imperatives. We ask readers to consider who is metaphorically ‘shouting’ whilst drawing on various pedagogical forms and devices and we ask who is being ‘shouted’ at, and to what effects. We suggest that these celebrities function as powerful pedagogues who seemingly attempt to offer particular visions of health, consumption and citizenship, and, above all, attempt to cultivate a moral duty to eat well.
- obesity epidemic
- public pedagogies