YTP #29 Huntington’s Kitchen: America’s “Unhealthiest City” Post Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

By in Podcast

It was March 2010 when Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution hit the airwaves and we gathered as a country to cheer on the health of a West Virginia town. Coined as America’s “unhealthiest city”, the residents of Huntington had no choice but open up their imperfections to the entire world when ABC turned on the cameras and starting filming.

Statistically, this town was leading the nation in heart disease and diabetes while its school children were being served up a dumpster’s worth of fat each year. Viewers were stunned by the resistance of the some locals and touched deeply by the ones who were literally dying for help. With more than half of Huntington’s adults considered obese and the inability of its school children to distinguish a tomato from a potato, it was a revolution that seemed the only thing viable to light a spark of change. And in just six episodes Jamie Oliver and his crew were instrumental in revamping the local school lunch program and inspiring change within the lives of many willing residents who opened up their cabinets to the scrutiny of America.

Jamie and his crew eventually turned off the cameras and left Huntington to its own decisions once again.

So what happens after an internationally known chef comes into a town, tosses up the habits of townsfolk like a salad, builds an entire state of the art community kitchen and revamps the school lunch program, and then leaves. Who is left to carry the momentum and budget of an ABC hit show?

Well these are questions we’ve been thinking about for a while and when the Ride the High Vibe Tour starting showing its face in our lives we knew almost immediately that Huntington, West Virgina was one of the stops on our list.

In today’s episode we sit down with Marty Emerson, newly appointed manager at Huntington’s Kitchen (HK), the very kitchen that was constructed for the Food Revolution, to find out the answers to these questions, his vision for the future of the kitchen and a look into his own health struggles as a Huntington resident.

His choice to attend culinary school, at first his only option to receive financial aid, has now proved to be a gift for the Huntington community as well as for Marty. He fell in love with food and with his roll at HK is now able to share that love with his community while creating programs that not only promote health but are also fun to attend. Getting people out of the drive-throughs and into their own kitchens is one of his main goals and showing people how to create their favorite comfort foods in a “healthier way” is the first step.  He wants to make learning about nutrition entertaining because he believes that this will engage his students and allow the knowledge to sink in easier. Marty meets his community where they are at, educates himself on the diseases that plague his neighbors and creates classes centered around restricted diets like Celiacs, Renal and Cancer.

Marty wants to educate on a deeper level than just food preparation. He plans to teach his residents how to shop, get creative with just a few staple ingredients and implement programs to get the entire family involved. He is passionate about continuing the momentum that Jamie Oliver brought to his town and to carry the message of health to every person that walks through the kitchen doors. West Virginia is still a leader in today’s top killers but we think you will find that that there is a great big spark of light that still remains in the beautiful town of Huntington, West Virginia.




Episode 29 Show Notes:

Huntington’s Kitchen

Get Social w/ Huntington’s Kitchen: Facebook

Gro Huntington – Recovery through Nature Assisted Therapy

Food Revolution Trailer

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