Is Food Political? Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio and Left-Wing Interest Groups are Making It So with “Sham Consensus” Food Policy Scorecard

Washington, D.C.Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Director of its Risk Analysis Division, has issued a statement in response to the new “National Food Policy Scorecard” announced this week by the activist group Food Policy Action, supported by celebrity chief Tom Colicchio and consisting of organizations associated with the left:

This scorecard is a sham. It does not, as Food Policy Action claims, “reflect the consensus of top food policy experts.” Rather, it represents the narrow views of a select group of some of the nation’s most ideologically-divisive activists.

The Scorecard’s judges represent the far-left Environmental Working Group; the food police group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest; and even the “chief lobbyist” of a labor union. The one “expert” in the group who comes from the food industry is Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm, who regularly funds left-wing activist campaigns and stands to directly benefit from government programs that steer resources toward organic food.

Members of Food Policy Action’s leadership advocate for policies that would increase the cost of foods and beverages through regressive taxes, eliminate certain food choices, and have the unintended consequence of causing people to eat fewer fruits and vegetables by unnecessarily scaring us about the safety of traditionally-grown agriculture.

If I brought together my colleagues from other think-tanks who are aligned with my point of view, we’d market our scorecard as reflecting a consensus of top free-market food policy experts. We wouldn’t try to pass it off as a view that “reflects the consensus of top food policy experts” as Food Policy Action did – unless we brought in other folks and genuinely offered a bona fide consensus.

Washington Post reporter Tim Carman described the “National Food Policy Scorecard” in a December 11 Post story beginning:

On Tuesday, a national nonprofit group supported by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio announced that 87 members of Congress scored a perfect 100 on the 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard, which tracked lawmakers on 19 votes in the U.S. House and Senate during the most recent session.

Of those 87 members of Congress, only one was a Republican, noted Ken Cook, board chairman for Food Policy Action, which tabulated the scores for the second year in a row…

…All 38 House and Senate members with the lowest scores — zero — were Republicans, the Food Policy Action chairman noted. They included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). Incidentally, as speaker, Boehner voted on only two of the 13 House bills or amendments that were considered for the scorecard; senators were scored on just six votes.

Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, said there’s a good reason for Republican lawmakers’ performance on the scorecard. “It does not, as FPA claims, ‘reflect the consensus of top food policy experts,’?” he said. “Rather, it represents the narrow views of a select group of some of the nation’s most ideologically divisive activists.”

Stier called the scorecard a “sham,” saying it has all the validity of an “NRA scorecard on gun ownership. But they’re playing it off as otherwise, which I think is misleading.”

The rest of the Washington Post story can be read here.

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