The Chef Tom Colicchio Quits a Food Policy Group He Started
The chef and television personality Tom Colicchio, who has become something of a prototype for the politically active chef, is leaving Food Policy Action, the organization he helped found in 2012.
He announced his departure from the group’s board on Thursday on Instagram and Twitter, saying his resignation was effective immediately.
The split appears to be a result of what might best be described as creative differences. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Colicchio said he was frustrated with the core work of the organization, which analyzes food policy and lobbies for broad changes to encourage the production of more affordable, healthier and ethically produced food, as well as economic help for workers.
“I think lobbying efforts around food aren’t going to work, and I’d rather spend my time trying to change Congress instead of shouting into the void,” he said. “Heading into the midterms, I’d rather spend my time getting better people elected.”
Mr. Colicchio hasn’t announced who those candidates are, but said he is studying several potential races.
“I’m looking for people who have a message around food and changing the food system writ large,” he said. “We have to look at this through more of an economic lens and the disparity that forces more and more people to look toward processed foods.”
He leaves with some muted regret about the organization. “I feel bad because I helped create it, but I feel good about the work they’re doing,” he said.
Mr. Colicchio created the organization with Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. “I have nothing but positive things to say about Tom,” Mr. Cook said. “He has come into these fights and been incredibly effective. My view is he wants to focus on other approaches to this issue.”
Each year, Food Policy Action releases a scorecard that ranks members of Congress according to how they voted on food issues. The group recently expanded its focus to the executive branch, and on Monday will convene a public panel in Washington with chefs and members of environmental, animal-rights and farmworker organizations to analyze the Trump administration’s potential impact on food policy.
“There’s a lot to say about the threat to good food and food policy by this administration,” Mr. Cook said.