As TEDxManhattan 2014 approaches, we’ve asked this year’s speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Today we feature Tom Colicchio, Chef/Owner of Craft Restaurants and Head Judge of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” Tom also appears in and served as executive producer on A Place at the Table, Participant Media's documentary about food insecurity in America.
What’s the topic you’ll be speaking about?
I’ll be speaking about hunger and food policy, about voting around food issues. I think that in order to have the right policies around hunger issues, we need more than just hunger advocates to join in the fight. We need the whole food movement. If you look at the people in the food movement, for example - GMO labeling, animal welfare, stopping the use of antibiotics in animals, organic farming, etc - all these various areas need to come together to vote around food issues. As an individual, separate movement, we’ll never gain traction.
Ultimately, the road to fixing problems is through legislation and federal government - we need to create a coalition of people around this issue. We need to create a stronger movement and find common interests. I want people to vote around food like they vote around second amendment rights. If one person loses an election around a food issue, people will take notice.
Hunger was not mentioned once in the primaries. It’s not even part of the conversation. How do we create that awareness where these issues get voted on and are part of the conversation? How could GMO labeling in Washington state fail? Because money came in 4 to 1 against it. The food movement is too hands off when politicizing things. And I believe you can politicize the hunger issue without taking sides - I don’t know anyone who’s pro-hunger.
The film “A Place at the Table” will be launching a multi-million dollar messaging campaign around hunger.
Are there other projects you’re passionate about right now?
Antibiotics. I was on Morning Joe a couple months ago talking about the Food Policy Action group. I was asked what I thought the most pressing issue in food was today and I said the overuse of antibiotics. Once I said that on the show, I was contacted by groups and started lobbying in Washington around that issue also. I believe we’re soon going to have a major outbreak and pandemic around the overuse of antibiotics.
Where can more information about your project or issue be found?
You can go to the Foodpolicyaction.org website and find out how your member of Congress votes around various issues related to food. Sign up there to get more information. We are working toward a system where we will send you information on various bills related to food as they get to the floor. You will then be able to call your local Congressperson and participate in the policy making process.
TEDxManhattan, “Changing the Way We Eat,,” will take place March 1, 2014 at the TimesCenter in New York City. Interested in joining the day? You can apply to attend, or host or attend a viewing party. For more information, please visit http://www.tedxmanhattan.org/.