“We can end hunger in America. We just haven’t had the political will to do it,” write James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Colicchio and Heifer International CEO Pierre Ferrari in an op-ed published by Time on Jan. 29.
In the piece, Colicchio and Ferrari note that the pandemic illuminated stark deficiencies in our food system, but incoming Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is in a position to make meaningful, lasting change if he and other politicians take the hard lessons learned to heart.
“COVID-19 has shown that shorter supply chains and local production are key to a more resilient food system, and he now has an opportunity to proactively shift power to local, small-scale farmers who will best serve their communities,” write Colicchio and Ferrari.
Colicchio is known for his role as lead judge on Top Chef as well as his group of highly respected restaurants, Crafted Hospitality. Bravo calls him “one of the world’s most celebrated culinary figures,” and he also spends much of his time and effort pushing for healthy food and food systems in the United States. Ferrari has decades of experience in the food industry, from his long tenure at Coca-Cola USA to his board position at Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream, and he runs an international organization working directly with small-scale farmers to end hunger.
The two know food systems, and they agree that agriculture in the U.S. is impressive in terms of sheer size and scale. But when looked at in terms of the millions who go hungry every day, it’s failing.
In November of 2020, Colicchio and Ferrari discussed the U.S. food system in detail as a part of Heifer International’s ongoing live chat series. The two talked about the importance of a decentralized food system that spreads out production among smaller, localized farmers, processors and packaging plants. In the Time article, the two urged government officials to make small-scale farming a priority to work toward ending hunger while ensuring living incomes for farming families.
“As conversations continue in the halls of Congress as to how best to kickstart our economy, we have to make sure local farmers are here for the long-term, as part of a healthy and diverse food and farming system. People want to be able to feed their families with safe, healthy, nutritious food, and they need to be able to afford to do so.”