Tom Colicchio: judge, restaurateur, and now...food activist!
The Best New Restaurant judge is taking on an issue that's near and dear to his heart: making sure Americans start to eat healthier. This year, Tom is one of the more than 700 chefs who have signed a bill that would require food manufacturers to disclose their GMO ingredients on their labels.
He recently headed to Washington D.C. to stump for the cause, where he explained why this is important to see through.
"We typically label things not because they're dangerous," he told Mother Jones. "If they're dangerous, we take them out of the food supply. But we believe everything in our processed foods should be labeled.? Like some labels say 'modified food starch.' Why modified? It's been altered. I'm not asking for a skull and crossbones, simply a line in the ingredient list that says 'GMO corn.' That's it!"
Tom notes that people should want to know what's in their food—and those who work in the industry (and beyond) are getting more vocal about it.
"Typically consumers who care about food, they're not thinking about policy," he says. "Like when they go to a farmers market, they're probably paying more, there are policies that are keeping those foods more expensive than processed ones. I don't quite understand how people who care about states' rights all of the sudden don't believe states have a right to label. Those same people will say the states have a right to raise animals a certain way. Where did all the states' rights people go? I want them! They're somewhere in this building!"
Tom also shared why the issue of GMO-labeling can be confusing for grocery store shoppers—and why it needs to change.
"I always use this example: It's summer, and you go into the supermarket and see all the beautiful strawberries," he recalled. "One is labeled local. One is labeled organic and 'made in Chile'—it's GMO free, but people don't know that. People will go, 'Oh, that one's local, so I'll buy that.' That lack of transparency puts the organic farmer at a competitive disadvantage."