“Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio, founding member of Food Policy Action, a coalition of food policy and environmental groups, announced a new initiative to grade lawmakers on their food votes with a Food Scorecard.
Food Policy Action explains that the Scorecard is based on votes taken during the 112th Congress that had a bearing on such issues as food safety, hunger, farm subsidies, food labeling, organic food and local food systems.
“In the future, animal welfare and food industry consolidation will be added to the food issues that factor in the scoring.”
Take Part notes the first-ever National Food Policy Scorecard looked at 18 floor votes in the Senate and 14 votes in the House over the last two years. Those votes included legislation on issues like food safety, hunger, farm subsidies, food labeling, organic farming and more.
“It’s very interesting that those that would be thought of as food champions didn’t get a 100 percent rating,” David DeGennaro, legislative analyst at the Environmental Working Group, tells TakePart.
Colicchio has pledged to turn the heat up on lawmakers. “There’s a problem out there that can be fixed, and if enough people believe this is a problem, then I hope those people can get their representatives to pay attention to this.”
“The scorecard will be published once every congress. It could be used as a way to go to legislators ahead of the vote and say, ‘We’re scoring this, you may want to keep it in mind when you’re voting.'”
Food Policy Action adds that consumers who have been changing the food supply for the better by voting with their pocketbooks — shopping locally at nearly 8,000 farmers’ markets and buying more organic — can use that voting history to change government policies for the better as well.
Writing about this year’s California ballot initiative to require GMO labeling, food author Michael Pollan recently wrote:
“One of the more interesting things we will learn on Nov. 6 is whether or not there is a ‘food movement’ in America worthy of the name — that is, an organized force in our politics capable of demanding change in the food system. People like me throw the term around loosely, partly because we sense the gathering of such a force, and partly (to be honest) to help wish it into being by sheer dint of repetition.”
Take Part indicates Food Policy Action plans on keeping track of votes taken on a number of pending bills, including the Egg Production Inspection Act Amendments of 2012; Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2011; the R.I.C.E. Act, which would require the FDA to set limits on arsenic in rice products; the Farm Bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act and more.
“It’s time to hold our legislators accountable for creating and enforcing policies that make a food system healthier for people and the plant. This scorecard allows us to do that,”said Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, and board member of FPA.