‘Top Chef’ judge heads to Foggy Bottom

Head judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” television series Tom Colicchio promoted the need for healthy, affordable food at the Foggy Bottom FRESHFARM Market Wednesday afternoon.

The event was held at the market behind GW Hospital as a way to introduce “Good Food, Good Jobs,” an initiative in support of local farmers.

Colicchio – winner of the 2010 James Beard Outstanding Chef award – said he considers himself an activist for those who cannot feed themselves.

“Hopefully, people will listen,” Colicchio said of the Good Food, Good Jobs initiative. “All Americans need to eat, yet one in eight Americans is hungry.”

The hungry, he said, can include the elderly, the recently unemployed, the working poor and military families.

“When you think of someone that is hungry, you think of children in a third-world country, but hunger now looks like the elderly who have to make decisions between medication and food,” he said.

Colicchio said food should be grown as locally as possible, adding by avoiding processed food, one is nurturing oneself, the farmer and the farmer’s family.

“What do you want to eat?” Colicchio asked the audience. “If you are what you eat, we’re going to turn into a bunch of chemicals and overly processed nonsense. Go out and find your local farmer, support your local farmer and just eat something that’s better for you.”

Colicchio is in D.C. filming “Top Chef,” which uses ingredients from farms across the country.

The event was hosted by the Progressive Policy Institute, a public policy group specializing in helping the environment.

At the event, Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, emphasized the importance of shopping at local markets like FRESHFARM not only to ensure healthier eating, but also to support farmers.

“I hope everybody shops here and shops often,” Merrigan said.

Ann Yonkers, co-director of FRESHFARM Markets, ended the event by encouraging the approximately 120 people in attendance to buy locally grown food from local farmers, not only to be healthy and bolster employment, but also because the food tastes better.

“We just celebrated Earth Day, but Earth Day is every day to the farmer,” she said.

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