The Doctor's Farmacy with Tom Colicchio

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Episode 125
The Doctor's Farmacy

Why Obesity, Hunger, And Malnutrition Are Found Together In The Same People

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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Coronavirus has got us thinking about a lot, including many parts of daily life that may not have crossed our minds before. A big one of those topics is food, and with unemployment at an all-time high, we’re seeing many people who need to utilize food stamps to help make ends meet.

Unfortunately, the SNAP program (food stamps) caters to the purchase of cheaper, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods over healthy, real, wholesome foods. We see that people who are food insecure and rely on programs like this are actually much more likely to be overweight or obese. The “N” in SNAP is for “nutrition,” and while there are SNAP benefits at beneficial food institutions like farmers’ markets, the program still has a long way to go to serve public health. 

Our food system is in desperate need of change, and as we look at current conditions in our world from COVID-19, we also see that the restaurant industry is in desperate need of help. The two actually go hand in hand. Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I talk to Tom Colicchio, the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark, and Temple Court; Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. 

Tom and I talk about the power of collective action to change food policy and his own experience in doing so in the heart of Washington. We get into the key underlying problems with SNAP (like that college kids need to work 20 hours a week to be eligible) as well the misconceptions about those who are on it and why we need a deeper empathy for those experiencing food insecurity.

Tom also shares his experience as a restauranteur in the age of COVID-19 and the current outlook for privately owned restaurants—a bleak 80% don’t know if they’ll make it through their forced closing, especially without PPP. We talk about what government funding would have to look like to really make a beneficial impact for this industry during this time and how restaurants (which employee 11 million people nationwide) are linked to economic strength, through the farmers and fishermen they rely on to the wineries, butchers, linen delivery services, and so much more.

Check out Tom’s podcast Citizen Chef with Tom Colicchio at

This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market and AirDoctor.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. Why those who are most food insecure have the highest risk of diabetes and obesity
    (3:50 / 8:08)
  2. How Tom went from being a chef to doing lobbying work in Congress
    (5:14 / 9:32)
  3. Making nutritious foods more accessible and affordable through SNAP and through the food supply system
    (13:57 / 18:15)
  4. Why SNAP doesn’t go far enough
    (19:48 / 24:06)
  5. Systemic racism in the food system
    (21:48 / 26:06)
  6. The populations who are on SNAP
    (22:44 / 27:02)
  7. Improving working conditions for food system workers by demonopolizing food production
    (27:56 / 30:57)
  8. The Independent Restaurant Coalition’s work to support the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic
    (36:07 / 39:08)
  9. How Tom is approaching his restaurant operations at this time
    (43:02 / 46:03)
  10. Innovation in the food supply system
    (48:36 / 51:39)


Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark, and Temple Court; Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Tom served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary A Place at the Table about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. This eye-opening experience led Tom on a journey to Washington DC where he has been a mainstay in our nation’s capital in the years since. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Tom has established himself as the leading “Citizen Chef” advocating for a food system that values access, affordability, and nutrition over corporate interests.

Transcript Note: Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Tom Colicchio (00:00):
So much of what ails this country, this nation, can be cured if we can get people to eat healthier, but the only way to get people to eat healthier is get them the dollars that they need to eat healthier.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:15):
Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m
Dr. Mark Hyman and it’s farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y. If you care about what’s happening today in the food industry, in the restaurant industry and why we should care you should be listening to this podcast because it’s with an incredible leader in the space of food and restaurants and food policy,
Tom Colicchio, who’s the Chef and Owner of Crafted Hospitality, which is … got a whole bunch of restaurants all over the country. My favorite that I’ve been to is Craft, which was down the street from me and my apartment in New York City. He is just a mover and a shaker in the food industry, as well as just being an incredible chef. He’s got incredible restaurants all over the country and he’s opened this really cool restaurant in New York in 2018, which I’m sure is struggling right now, called Small Batch in Garden City, New York, which is a casual dining restaurant that celebrates the pride of place through commitments to local ingredients and local purveyors in people, which is pretty awesome. So, really decentralizing food. He’s also been an incredible food activist.

Dr. Mark Hyman (01:16):
He also was an executive producer in an incredible movie called, A Place At The Table, which I saw in 2013 at Sundance Film Festival, which blew my mind. It was really about the causes of hunger in the United States and the often parallel and co-existing problem of hunger and obesity, because we don’t typically think of people who are overweight as hungry, but it’s really problems that go hand in hand. And that lead him to go to Washington, DC. The chef goes to Washington and becomes a citizen chef activist and has been advising members of congress and holding them accountable for being an integrity around food and food policy. He worked with Michelle Obama on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and is really a leading citizen chef activist in this space. I’m so excited to have Tom on our podcast. Welcome, Tom.

Tom Colicchio (02:02):
Thank you, Mark. You make me feel so much more important right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman (02:06):
You are. You are. I always look for the people out there who are not just doing what they do in their small world, but actually seeing the connections between everything they do. You’re in the space of food, and providing some of the best and most amazing delicious food in the` country and have been given all sorts of awards, but you also realize that it’s not so simple as just serving up food in your restaurants, that we live in a food system and that it’s broken and that people are hungry and suffering and sick and that’s really what you’ve focused your work on. I’m so excited about your new podcast. Everybody should be listening to this podcast. It’s called Citizen Chef. Only one episode is out as we’re recording this, but it’s going to be coming out more and more every week and it really highlights some of the underbelly of the dark issues in our food system and also the possibilities for re-imagining the food system.

Dr. Mark Hyman (02:49):
Tom, you’ve been such an icon for me, both because I love eating at your restaurants, I love your food, but also because you are an example of what I think chefs should be and I think chefs can be a leading voice for change in our food system and you certainly are one of those, so I’m so glad to have you on the podcast.

Tom Colicchio (03:08):
Thanks. Thanks. To be clear, the reason why I was an executive producer on that movie was because my wife was the producer and director.

Dr. Mark Hyman (03:17):
Well, you got in there. But it helped you understand that there was bigger issues out there in America and [crosstalk 00:03:22].

Tom Colicchio (03:22):
Oh, absolutely. No, no, what’s really amazing about the film and when my wife Lori Silverbush … When her and a partner Kristi Jacobson started working on the film, very, very quickly we figured out that people weren’t hungry in this country because of famine, because of war, because of drought. People were hungry in this country because they often didn’t have the necessary funds to actually buy healthy food and we didn’t have a government that felt that they had a responsibility to make sure everyone was well nourished in this country.

Dr. Mark Hyman (03:50):
What’s striking to me and I learned about this just reading medical journals that those who are most food insecure have the highest risk of obesity and diabetes.

Tom Colicchio (03:59):

Dr. Mark Hyman (04:00):
Can you talk about why that might be the case?

Tom Colicchio (04:01):
Yeah. In a phrase, in this country calories are cheap and nutrition is expensive. If you have very little dollars to spend on food you buy the cheapest food possible. Typically, those are the foods that are high in saturated foods, high in salt, high in sugar. They’re dense in calories, but they don’t actually offer much nutrition and so that’s why often you see in the same household people that are malnourished and obese at the same time.

Dr. Mark Hyman (04:28):
Yeah. What’s fascinating from a medical point of view is that in studies they looked at what happens when people are allowed to eat as much processed food as they want versus real food and they eat about 500 calories more when they have access to processed food and not real food. The reason is that we are looking for nutrients in our food. We’re biologically programmed to look for those nutrients, just like a kid will eat dirt if they’re iron deficient. We’re going to keep looking for love in all the wrong places because we’re not going to find them-

Tom Colicchio (04:57):

Dr. Mark Hyman (04:58):
… in the processed foods. People are actually eating a lot more to try to find the nutritional density, but they’re not getting it-

Tom Colicchio (05:03):

Dr. Mark Hyman (05:03):
… and that leads to this obesity problem. It’s pretty striking when you look at these scientific studies and we see this across America that people who are among the most food insecure are the most sick and overweight. Now, you’ve been an advocate for food and hunger issues for a long time lobbying on Capitol Hill to change our food system. How did you as a chef go from the kitchen to Congress?

Tom Colicchio (05:24):
Well, so I go back to my childhood. My father was president of his union. He was a corrections officer. My mother worked in a school cafeteria. If I had to go back to my childhood, that’s kind of where I think it was rooted in some of the work that my dad did. I remember him campaigning for someone who was running for sheriff in Union County. I grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I think that was ingrained into me. They were good voters. I mean, they were out there. They voted in every election. There was this idea of politics that was always discussed in my house. I mean, obviously I had a platform from being a chef, but then also from being on TV. When we produced the film, you saw it at Sundance, that’s where it premiered. It did have a theatrical release, but we actually took that film around the country, college campuses, showing it to various civics groups. So, that gave me a platform to start talking about the issue a little deeper.

Tom Colicchio (06:32):
But, because we made the political argument in that film that you can’t solve hunger through food banking and through charity, that you actually need government response, a massive government response and a much bigger response than we currently had. That put me squarely in Washington. In fact, while we were making the film I actually testified in Congress, in committee. They were debating the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. It was Congressman George Miller. It was his committee. He was a congressman from California. I was scared to death. I always had a problem with public speaking. You wouldn’t know, but I was really nervous. I also had a speech that I had to read and I have a very, very difficult time reading speeches or reading and speaking at the same time. I’d rather read the materials and then sort of do it off the cuff and I’m much better that way, but I had to read it, so I’m really nervous.

Tom Colicchio (07:38):
Plus, I’d go into the chamber to meet Congressman Miller and we’d chat a little bit. Not knowing the process you walk out and you’re in the committee room and it’s like you see on TV. You’re down below, they’re up here and I’m freaking out. I’m testifying along with Secretary Vilsack and then another general, retired general from Mission: Readiness along with someone, I’m forgetting his name, I’m blanking it out, from The Heritage Foundation. And so I read my piece and that was fine and they all come to do their thing and then it comes time for Q&A. At one point, I got so angry at the guy from Heritage that I turned and started addressing him and I got a reprimand from the bench.

Dr. Mark Hyman (08:23):
That’s a conservative think tank.

Tom Colicchio (08:25):
Right, right. I got a reprimand from the bench saying, “No, you address us.” I had another Democratic congressman who kind of bailed me out and steered the conversation to where I was heading. It was a really good lesson, but it was also a lesson in civics and sort of how the sausage is made. I know how sausage is made. I know they’re both made now. They say those two things you don’t want to see is laws and sausage. I’ve seen them both made and I’ll stick to cooking. The film came out and really gave me a platform. Right after the film came out, I co-founded an organization called Food Policy Action. Co-founded with Ken Cook who was, at the time, and still running the Environmental Working Group. He had this idea to model Food Policy Action very similar to the way the League of Conservation Voters is set up. We publish a scorecard. We graded Congress on how they voted around food issues and farming issues and fishing and so that clearly put me in DC. [crosstalk 00:09:32]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (09:32):
If you didn’t give people a good score maybe they didn’t want to talk to you.

Tom Colicchio (09:36):
Well, actually it worked out both ways. If we didn’t give someone … There’s some people who got really bad scores and they just kind of blew us off. And then there were some people who got so-so scores and they would say, “Well, had we known there was someone keeping track, maybe we would’ve voted differently.” It was like, “That’s exactly why we’re here.” And so I would go to Washington sometimes 8 to 10, 12 times a year and we would go and lobby. I was an unpaid, unregistered lobbyist, but working through this organization I would always go with professional lobbyist. You would have meetings and then at the end of the night I ended up going to another congressman’s house. I guess I can name her, Chellie Pingree and we went to her house.

Dr. Mark Hyman (10:18):
Yeah. She’s an organic farmer.

Tom Colicchio (10:19):
Yeah. She has a 400-acre organic farm in Maine and so we would go to her house and a bunch of members would come out. Usually like 40, 50 to 60 members and they would always make a big deal when some of the senators would show up. And so I would just give talks and that just kind of blossomed from there. The James Beard Foundation start moving directions and getting involved more in advocacy. They started a boot camp to teach chefs how to advocate for things that they cared about. We would bring those chefs to the Hill. Now I got 60 chefs on the Hill and that made a pretty big impact. And so that really showed you the grassroots impact that you can have, but it takes a lot of work.

Tom Colicchio (11:02):
I remember talking to George Miller when he was retiring and we were at a press conference together. I took him aside and just congratulated him on his retirement.

Dr. Mark Hyman (11:11):
He was a congressman?

Tom Colicchio (11:11):
A congressman from California, yeah. He took me aside and said, “Listen, you keep coming back and we recognize this. It’s a lot of the celebrities and they come up here for a photo op. They come here one day, we never see them again.” He said, “You keep coming back.” And he said, “That’s being recognized and so you have more of a voice because you’re not going away.” That’s how I got involved, that was it. It was-

Dr. Mark Hyman (11:39):
And Food Policy Action’s a great organization. I think in the last election they were able to unseated two congressmen who had bad voting records through a massive social media campaign that was really driven through citizen action.

Tom Colicchio (11:51):

Dr. Mark Hyman (11:52):
People feel disempowered and the feeling like they can’t do anything and their voice doesn’t matter. It actually does. By collective action, you can actually unseat people who are bad actors.

Tom Colicchio (12:02):
Right. I’m no longer involved and I may be getting back involved, but when I was there we actually went after one member of congress from Florida, Steven Southerland who almost single handedly killed the Farm Bill and we went after him. We don’t have tons of funding, but we went after him through a few town halls and I think he lost by about 3,000 votes. Gwen Graham beat him. We picked a good candidate. Gwen Graham had a big name. Her father was a senator and a governor from Florida, so she had a big political name. But, it worked. And then now for an election where Democrats got hammered.

Dr. Mark Hyman (12:39):
You’re in Washington and you’re talking to all these senators and congressman and you’re so clear about the linkages in our food system between healthcare, climate change, education, employment, the economy. Do you think the congressmen and senators had an awareness of this and why isn’t this part of our national discourse in politics?

Tom Colicchio (12:57):
Some do. The members of congress that are on the ag committee do. We had a great partner in Pat Roberts, who’s a Republican senator from Kansas. His opposite is Debbie Stabenow. They actually in the last Farm Bill did a great job of partnering together. Yeah, there’s people who do focus on it, but they don’t necessarily understand the connection sometime. That’s what you have to do. You have to make those connections. I think also because of the scorecard, you can’t discard it. People want a good record. They actually want to beat the score. If you’re running for office-

Dr. Mark Hyman (13:41):
They want a gold star.

Tom Colicchio (13:43):
If you’re running for office, just by nature, you’re competitive and you actually want to say, “Hey, I did the right thing.” And listen, we’re talking about nutrition. We’re talking about people who are hungry. This shouldn’t be controversial.

Dr. Mark Hyman (13:56):
But the thing that’s challenging here is that there’s the Farm Bill which has the SNAP or Food Stamp Program in it, which feeds about 46 million Americans, including one in four children in this country, which is a lot.

Tom Colicchio (14:08):
Well, right now it’s much higher. Right before COVID it was about 38 million and that number is probably doubled at this point.

Dr. Mark Hyman (14:15):
Yeah, I’m sure it’s more. The issue with SNAP is it’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, except there’s no provision for nutrition. There’s no guidelines around the nutritious quality of the food, nutritional density.

Tom Colicchio (14:30):
Yeah, except for the Double Bucks Program. The Double Bucks Program that is in the Farm Bill is … You know it, but I’ll just spell it out anyway. It was actually started by a good friend of mine, Michele Nichan, and his organization Wholesome Wave where if you’re using-

Dr. Mark Hyman (14:44):
Another chef.

Tom Colicchio (14:44):
Right. Again, this is how you make nutrition more affordable. If you are using SNAP in a farmers market you’ll get double the amount of money you’re spending. If you spend $40 you go and get another coupon for an additional $40 to spend in the farmers market. Now, what’s great for this is it expands your dollars that you could spend on nutritious food because you’re in a farmers market, you’re buying fruits and vegetables. Number two, that money goes to farmers. That was they here. This is how you actually work both sides of the aisle. You work the nutrition side and take care of sort of liberals who want to feed hungry people, but then you actually are making sure you’re giving money to rural communities and farming communities, because otherwise that money is spent in a supermarket where it goes to a large company and so this is a way to take billions of dollars and move them into-

Dr. Mark Hyman (15:35):
How many billions or [crosstalk 00:15:37] how much money of the Food Stamp Program goes towards Double Bucks? Do you have a sense of that?

Tom Colicchio (15:42):
Actually, a small amount of money and it’s a public-private partnership. I believe the first Farm Bill that was introduced it was $100 million and I think it may be doubled now, so it’s only about $200 million.

Dr. Mark Hyman (15:52):
Yeah, so that’s 200 million [crosstalk 00:15:54] out of 75 billion a year. It’s [crosstalk 00:15:56].

Tom Colicchio (15:58):
Point well taken, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman (16:00):
One of the things that you focus on, which is interesting is not just erasing hunger through giving calories, but making sure people have nutritionally dense food. Can you talk about that?

Tom Colicchio (16:12):
Well, again, this is … if you want people to have nutritionally dense food you got … My experience is that people who have limited means, it’s not that they want to buy junk food. They actually would prefer to buy nutritious food. They just have to make their dollars stretch as much as possible. Again, how do you make nutritious food more accessible, more affordable. Accessible meaning there are places in the inner cities, but also places in rural areas where you have to travel pretty far to get to a supermarket to be able to buy a fruit and vegetable. There’s the accessibility issue and there’s the affordability issue and so how do you make that work together? Do you do it through subsidizing fruits and vegetables? Maybe not. But can you do it through actually research and development so those farmers can actually get studies and data and information on how to grow more fruits and vegetables on the same acreage. If you’re producing more, the price will come down, but you’re also selling more.

Tom Colicchio (17:11):
The other thing that I think is critically important is nutrition and you know this. If you start at a early age teaching kids about nutrition it’ll last a lifetime. And so making sure that nutritious food, making sure that there’s a system and this is in the … was in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, making sure that there is money so farmers can get food directly into school systems, so fruits and vegetables can get into the school system. But here’s something that’s missing. Especially here in the Northeast where I am when farmers are producing most of their food school’s out of session.

Dr. Mark Hyman (17:47):

Tom Colicchio (17:47):
And, most schools, most cafeterias no longer process food. They only take food in and reheat it.

Dr. Mark Hyman (17:54):
That’s right.

Tom Colicchio (17:54):
So we need to actually create a system, a regional distribution where food can come from a farm and get processed. When I say processed, I mean minimally processed meaning taking peas and blanching them, taking broccoli and blanching it or carrots and having fresh food, fresh fruits and vegetables. Now they can be frozen and ready for school year. There’s nothing wrong with frozen, nutrients are there, but now you’re actually taking the food from the farm. You have that processing source and then it goes into the school system. This is crucially important because if you get kids to eat nutrition, again early on, it’ll stay with them for life. Plus, studies have shown that kids then introduce those foods to their parents-

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:33):
Parents, yeah, it’s true.

Tom Colicchio (18:35):
… so this is real important. Also, teaching about nutrition in school, we don’t do that. We don’t teach nutrition. In fact, when you go to medical school how many classes on nutrition did you have?

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:44):
You know they were mostly about scurvy and rickets and-

Tom Colicchio (18:47):
Right. You don’t-

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:47):
… malnutrition-

Tom Colicchio (18:47):
You don’t get nutrition. Right, right.

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:49):
… was a new word.

Tom Colicchio (18:50):
How many things that you see in your practice that can be cured if someone actually had a better diet?

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:56):
Most things.

Tom Colicchio (18:57):
Most things and so-

Dr. Mark Hyman (18:58):
I mean, chronic disease is predominantly caused by what we eat and it’s mostly cured by what we eat.

Tom Colicchio (19:04):
Right. So here’s something the congress, both sides, they all care about, how you lower healthcare costs. That’s your answer.

Dr. Mark Hyman (19:12):
Yeah, except they don’t [crosstalk 00:19:15] connect the dots, Tom, between-

Tom Colicchio (19:16):
God forbid we’re the nanny state and we tell people how to eat more nutritious. But this is how you do it. We spend $200 billion a year on healthcare costs and everybody wants to know how does that come down. Obviously, pharmaceuticals can come down, sure, but how do you make people healthy so they don’t need that intervention?

Dr. Mark Hyman (19:33):
Actually, the budget for Medicare is $1.3 trillion, it’s a lot. And then you [crosstalk 00:19:39] count all the other healthcare programs in the government, it’s about 60% of our total healthcare cost.

Tom Colicchio (19:44):
But, now we have to make sure that people can afford healthy food. SNAP doesn’t go far enough.

Dr. Mark Hyman (19:50):

Tom Colicchio (19:50):
SNAP just kind of gets you by. In fact, most families run out of SNAP three weeks into the month. Also, most families who are on SNAP have at least one member of the family working full-time and they’re still on SNAP. See you got to also bust the myths around SNAP. People believe that people are just abusing the system. Most people, most families are only on SNAP for about eight months. Also, a single-bodied adult with no dependents, otherwise known as ABAWDs in the lingo, they can only receive SNAP three months out of any three years.

Dr. Mark Hyman (20:24):

Tom Colicchio (20:25):
Also, most people don’t know if you’re a college student you cannot receive SNAP unless you work 20 hours a week. This is crazy. College campuses there’s food pantries opening up on most college campuses now because these kids go to school. Maybe they’re first in their family to go to college. They barely have enough money to get the kid to college. They don’t have enough money to pay for a meal plan and the kids are hungry and when you’re hungry you can’t learn.

Dr. Mark Hyman (20:50):
That’s a [crosstalk 00:20:50] staggering amount of hunger on campuses-

Tom Colicchio (20:53):
Yes, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman (20:53):
… as you’re talking about that. I think most people don’t realize that-

Tom Colicchio (20:56):

Dr. Mark Hyman (20:56):
… college kids who you think of as fairly middle class, well off, actually are hungry.

Tom Colicchio (21:01):
Right. What happened with COVID? They closed all the college campuses. What happened? Housing. The kids got thrown out of school, so they didn’t have housing anymore and they couldn’t eat anymore. So much of what ails this country, this nation, can be cured if we can get people to eat healthier, but the only way to get people to eat healthier is get them the dollars that they need to eat healthier.

Dr. Mark Hyman (21:24):
So one of the issues that isn’t really talked about a lot is who are the hungry and it’s really often the poor obviously, but many of those in the 50 million food insecure are mostly black, Latino, Native American and they’re-

Tom Colicchio (21:40):
On a percentage basis, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman (21:42):

Tom Colicchio (21:42):
On a percentage basis, yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman (21:43):
Yes and they’re disproportionately affected by coronavirus and with this whole issue of systemic racism how does systemic racism in both the issues around food insecurity and hunger, as well as the farm and food workers, because I think it’s two subjects I wanted to get into.

Tom Colicchio (22:01):
I think it’s pretty easy. Systemic racism has disproportionately affected black communities where they don’t have wealth and they don’t have wealth built up over generations because they weren’t allowed to own property. They were promised 40 acres and a mule, they never got that. And then when they moved up north, they moved them to places like Chicago that were redlined where they couldn’t get a mortgage. And so how do you build up wealth in families? It’s through property. It’s through home ownership, also that and the constant sort of push on wages and so, of course, it’s pretty easy to understand how it affects the black community disproportionately. To health outcomes again, if you ask the one question who’s on SNAP, the elderly, children, people with disabilities, vets. Those are the big categories. Forget about whether they’re black, white, Latino. There are actually more whites on SNAP, but as a percentage there are more people of color. But, that’s who’s really going hungry. And so you have the elderly who have to make decisions whether to actually-

Dr. Mark Hyman (23:10):
Take their medicine.

Tom Colicchio (23:12):
… afford their medicine or their food or their medicine needs to be taken on a full stomach and their stomachs aren’t full so the medicine’s not working or it’s getting them sicker. You have people with disabilities who can’t work, people with disabilities who end up getting locked up because we don’t have a mental health care system to take care of them so we lock them up. Children who are living in homes that are food insecure they are affected. Or then the parents who are feeding their children in those homes they’re not eating themselves. And so we’re really sort of looking at COVID right now and this is what I’m hoping on the hunger side that comes out of COVID. Right now, states like Maryland I know there’s been an almost 75% increase in applications for SNAP. If you extrapolate that throughout the country, we’re looking at probably 50, 60 million people on SNAP, all right?

Tom Colicchio (24:04):
These are people who are lining up for food pantries in cars. You see these lines that are two, three hours long. These are people who never three months ago, in a million years, thought that they would be lined for a food pantry. They had jobs. They went to school. They got a good job. They’re lined up, okay? I’m hoping that … The language around people who are on SNAP it’s always, “They’re not deserving. They make bad decisions.”

Dr. Mark Hyman (24:35):
Nobody wants to be on SNAP.

Tom Colicchio (24:37):
No, hold on. They made bad decisions in life. It’s their own fault. Pull yourself up on the bootstraps or why did you have so many children, right? You hear this. It’s your fault and that’s why the government shouldn’t take care of you because it’s your fault. But, now we’re seeing people, no fault of their own are hungry. What we’re hoping, what I’m hoping, is that we have a deeper empathy for people who are struggling. People weren’t born into poverty. They don’t ask to be born into poverty. They’re born into poverty. And so how do we … I think there’s going to be a deeper empathetic sort of feeling around who’s struggling in this country and how we can fix that because people again who never thought they’d be in this situation are going to have to reach out to the government for help. Hopefully, there is a better understanding about who’s healthy, who’s hungry, why they’re hungry and why we should feed them.
Speaker 3 (25:33):
Hi everyone, hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from
Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company Farmacy and their first product the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman (25:42):
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? It’s when you feel like crap. It’s a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal or that you can fix it. I mean, you know the feeling. It’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion is off, you can’t think clearly or you have brain fog or you just feel run down. Can you relate? I know most people can. But the real question is what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing, so there’s not one single solution. However, there is a systems-based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC and I call that system the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman (26:24):
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with 1,000s of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix, it’s a system that works. If you want to learn more and get your health back on track click on the button below or visit That’s get, farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, .com.
Speaker 3 (26:49):
Now back to this week’s episode.

Tom Colicchio (26:51):
Now, we already touched on the health benefits for why people should be fed, but then take it a step further. When you’re healthy you have better educational outcomes, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman (27:00):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tom Colicchio (27:01):
Better health outcomes obviously. You get a job. You have a job.

Dr. Mark Hyman (27:06):
You’re more productive and more effective.

Tom Colicchio (27:06):
You’re more productive, therefore you’re paying taxes. Therefore, it’s actually good for the country. And so if this country wants to get back on its feet and even when we were at close to full employment, you want to make sure that people are healthy enough to thrive so they can actually contribute to the country. This is an argument that now is a very different argument. It’s not an argument about my liberal knee-jerk reaction to make sure people are taken care of, this is now a different conversation about what’s good for America. Now you make an argument for why feeding people and making sure that they’re properly nourished is actually good for our country. You wrap this in the American flag right now. Now we’re having a different conversation.

Dr. Mark Hyman (27:47):
Absolutely. I mean, it’s good for the economy to have people healthy and working-

Tom Colicchio (27:52):

Dr. Mark Hyman (27:52):
… in every way.

Tom Colicchio (27:53):

Dr. Mark Hyman (27:54):
Speaking of working, the biggest employer in the country is the food system and when you look at food and farm workers and restaurant workers all across the food chain it’s 20 million people and a lot of those people now are out of work and restaurants are struggling. But, even before they were out of work they were often marginalized workers. They’re often paid low wages. They’re often migrant workers. They often have no benefits. Kerry Kennedy has been on the podcast talking about the state of farm workers in New York who never got a day off, Christmas or anything and to work crazy shifts and had no benefits and no rights. I think these are the things that people don’t understand when they’re buying their food at the grocery store what happened all along this food supply chain that led to some of the workers that are producing the food being really adversely affected. We really don’t have the kind of fair labor laws for most of the farming, even food workers and we’re paying the price for that.

Tom Colicchio (28:51):
Yeah. Well, in fact in the Fair Labor Standards Act farm workers were left out of it. They didn’t have the protections that other industries were afforded. It wasn’t until Chavez started organizing people that they got some rights. What we’re seeing now and what’s interesting you read stories about these food processors that are just getting ravaged because of this COVID where some plants where there’s 3,600 workers over 1,000 have COVID, where this could’ve affected 90% of the meat production in the country. Well, that’s because you have two reasons. Number one, you have low paid workers that are being forced to go to work. They should stay home, like the rest of us, but they’re being forced to come to work. They’re getting sick and they end up going to work because they have no savings, so the end up going to work and they end up getting sick.

Tom Colicchio (29:43):
Listen, our food system originally was built on slavery, let’s be honest here and so it hasn’t changed that much. It’s using low paid workers to produce food, but now all of a sudden they are in a position where they’re essential, right? Well, why weren’t they essential all along and why weren’t they getting paid more all along? Really, this could be taken care of pretty quickly. If [crosstalk 00:30:14]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (30:14):
How would you do that?

Tom Colicchio (30:15):
Over the last 40, 50 years these big food producers butt out the little guy. They are all very centrally located. They become monopolies. When you have four companies that process the majority of meat in this country they become monopolistic and we can break them up and they should be breaking up because our food system should be spread out. It’s too centralized right now. This is actually one of the things that we talk about in our podcast on the issues we deal with it. We spread it out. We actually put it into communities. When you have a processor that is in the community the amount of big agribusiness that is actually Brazilian or in Smithfield’s case owned by the Chinese they’re-

Dr. Mark Hyman (31:01):
Yeah. Smithfield sounds like an American company, but it’s owned by the Chinese. [crosstalk 00:31:04] They produce most of the pork in this country.

Tom Colicchio (31:06):
And so when you have processors now that are part of the community wages will go up. And listen, there was just a … You saw last week, the justice department actually is going after these processors for racketeering for essentially price fixing. They price fix wages. They’re pushing wages down because working in food processing it’s the only game in town, so you’re going to take a job for $10 an hour, $12 an hour. You’re working crazy hours. You don’t get breaks. You hear stories of these people working in food processing plants that wear diapers because they can’t take a bathroom break.

Dr. Mark Hyman (31:35):
Yeah, they have to process 150 chickens a minute.

Tom Colicchio (31:39):
Crazy numbers. We have to break this up a little bit and sort of spread it out. This is all again when-

Dr. Mark Hyman (31:47):
But there’s obstacles to that right, Tom? The policies that are in Washington have to change and those policies-

Tom Colicchio (31:52):
Oh, absolutely. We don’t have to change policies. We already have policies in place to actually break up monopolies.

Dr. Mark Hyman (31:57):
It’s called the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but it’s-

Tom Colicchio (31:59):

Dr. Mark Hyman (32:01):
… been a little bit rolled back by Reagan, so it’s allowed all this consolidation of the food industry and seed companies and everything.

Tom Colicchio (32:07):
Right. But if you look back in the 20s when we broke up big monopolies the reason we were able to do it was because it was count in terms of this is anti-Democratic because now you have companies that are too powerful and they have an outsize vote. They have an outsize reach when it comes to Washington. They can create laws. There’s 800 new processors in this country, 800. 50 of them produce 90% of the food, 90% of the meat. There’s also 20 licenses that the USDA gives out. The big guys make sure that you cannot get those licenses. Now, if you’re a small farmer maybe you can get a license where you can kill maybe a couple thousand birds a week. You can only sell them whole from your farm. You can’t put them actually into a distribution model. Or maybe you can actually kill animals and sell them directly to the public, but you can’t sell them to restaurants. Again, there’s 25 different licenses and the big guys make sure that you cannot process, portion meat out and sell it to supermarkets.

Dr. Mark Hyman (33:17):
That’s crazy. So basically the government is keeping the status quo and preventing-

Tom Colicchio (33:24):

Dr. Mark Hyman (33:25):
… these companies being able to sort of liberalize and actually allow small producers to-

Tom Colicchio (33:30):
You can get that young farmer who wants to stay on his family’s property, but he can’t make it because the government’s not letting him. I’m out on the north end of Long Island on the north fork, it’s a farming community. It started out as potatoes and broccoli and cauliflower and hops and now it’s mostly grapes. You still see a lot of farmland. I have friends of mine who are raising animals. They have to ship them off Long Island to Connecticut to order them and then bring them back to sell them on their own farms.

Dr. Mark Hyman (34:00):
That’s crazy. [crosstalk 00:34:01] It is crazy. We’re talking about some of the disparities in farmers and some of the challenges of racial injustices on the farm and I was recently listening to a podcast called 1619 about the way in which black farmers have been prejudiced against through USDA policy that allowed local banks and local white communities which were in control of the loans, the crop loans for the farmers to limit their loans, to delay the loans, to cause all kinds of trouble for the farmers that made them go out of business because the white farmers didn’t want them and it’s a source of the biggest class action, civil rights lawsuit in history. I think it’s the sin of systemic and I think it makes it hard for us to have a fair food system.

Tom Colicchio (34:50):
Right. Well, now you’re squarely now making the argument for reparations. Land was taken and that’s the root of the reparation [inaudible 00:35:01].

Dr. Mark Hyman (35:02):
Yeah, I think Lincoln offered the freed slaves 40 acres and a mule and [crosstalk 00:35:09] Johnson who followed him was a slave owner and a [inaudible 00:35:14] southerner who repealed that and that land today would be worth $4.6 trillion, which is staggering. But, I think giving small amounts to each individual African American in the country probably isn’t the right solution. It’s probably revitalizing communities and empowering communities in ways to rebuild themselves led by themselves.

Tom Colicchio (35:36):
Yeah, I don’t know what the solution is, but H.R.40, which is the bill that’s been introduced in the house I don’t know how many times. John Conyers, I believe, will be sponsoring that bill. It’s just to study this. It’s actually not to say, “Well, here what’s we’re going to do.” It’s like, “Let’s study this issue,” and congress says, “No, we’re not going to study it.” I don’t know how to figure out how to compensate people, that’s way above my pay grade, but we should study it.

Dr. Mark Hyman (36:06):
Yeah, it’s a huge issue. Let’s talk about restaurants because that’s your business and I think right now the restaurant industry is under a staggering blow from COVID-19. It contributes $1 trillion to the economy each year and is 4% of the GDP, but it’s been hit harder than any other industry. You’ve developed this incredible group called the Independent Restaurant Coalition to lobby congress to get relief for the restaurant industry. Tell us what is happening. I mean, for me just thinking about it as a layperson, nobody’s eating at restaurants, a few people are doing takeout. How do they staff the restaurants to even make money doing that? How is this unfolding and where are we going here?

Tom Colicchio (36:45):
You don’t make money and just to be clear I’m one of the founding members only because someone called me first or second. Actually, so the Independent Restaurant Coalition formed I think it was March 14th, 15th. I got a phone call from a friend of mine who’s not in the restaurant business. He’s the agent who represents chefs and said, “We have a foundation, maybe you can help out.” I said, “Hold onto your money because this is way too big.” And then right after that call I got a phone call from a friend of mine, Scott Faber, who is one of the lobbyists that I worked with when I was at Food Policy Action.

Dr. Mark Hyman (37:17):
Yeah, Environmental Working Group. I’m on the board of the Environmental Working Group, so I know Scott and Ken.

Tom Colicchio (37:21):
Okay, so you know Scott. Scott called me up to tell me about something else. I kind of in passing said, “Yeah.” He asked me what I was working on. I said, “Well, we got to do something for restaurants.” I said, “I think we need a lobbyist.” He said, “Okay, let’s do it.” I called my friend back and I said, “I think I know how you could spend your money.” He had talked to a few other people and we managed to get some money and in two days we hired a comms team. We hired lobbyists, not Scott, we hired lobbyists and we were on our way. And then it kind of branched out and we found a group down South that were about 100 restaurants strong that were working on something and found another group in Chicago and then San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and then we found chefs from all over. Right now, we have about 60,000 people on our list. Actively every morning on a Zoom call there’s probably 100 or so restaurateurs, chefs. We’re set up just solely to lobby.

Tom Colicchio (38:15):
We were the ones who really were focusing on PPP and the fixes to PPP. We just got that. It just passed both chambers and it extended the period where you can spend the PPP money from eight weeks to 24 weeks. It changed the split from payroll to rent or other expenses from 75 and 25 to 60/40. Also, if the portion that wasn’t forgiven, the portion that is a loan was extended, the payback period was extended from two years to five years. There were a few others in there too. We lobbied hard for that and got it. We were invited to the White House, some one of those kind of press little hits I guess, but we did make a difference. Now, right now we are asking for $120 billion specific to the restaurant industry and before anybody chokes on that number we employ 11 million people. I’m talking about independent restaurants. We define that as restaurants are not publicly traded and restaurants that have fewer than 20 locations. That money will go to hire our staffs back, pay our vendors and give us the necessary runway to actually get open because as you pointed out when we open up we’re opening to a very depressed market.

Tom Colicchio (39:33):
Number one, we have to take out half our seats. Also, we were forced to close and we have to take out half our seats. There’s additional money that we’re going to have to spend making sure the restaurant is sanitized and making sure people are wearing masks and the whole bit. We’re looking at maybe 30% of our business, maybe. We can’t make money doing that, so we’re going to use the money. The question now if congress is going to put a stimulus bill out there the restaurant industry is uniquely positioned to take that stimulus dollars and have it all go out because typically 90 cents to 95 cents to every dollar that we take in goes out the door in terms of wages, our suppliers, our rent. If you want to actually take money and flow it through a business so it goes to a lot of people and in turn they spend money and that’s where I can keep the economy going. We think that the restaurant industry is where they should look.

Tom Colicchio (40:26):
In the scheme of the money that’s going to be needed to actually keep the economy afloat until we get a vaccine we’re talking trillions of dollars, so 1.2 billion is actually a pretty low number.

Dr. Mark Hyman (40:38):
You said 1.2 billion?

Tom Colicchio (40:40):
I’m sorry, 120 [crosstalk 00:40:42].

Dr. Mark Hyman (40:41):
125 billion, yeah.

Tom Colicchio (40:42):
[inaudible 00:40:42].

Dr. Mark Hyman (40:43):
But the challenges that even if you do that and get the money in the restaurants are going to keep losing money because at 30% occupancy it’s still losing [crosstalk 00:40:54].

Tom Colicchio (40:55):
Right. That $120 billion number that actually comes from about 75% of income replacement for about five months I think it is. I might have those numbers wrong. What that does is that money’s flowing through, right? Then, we stay in business because we’re not losing money in workers. Our payroll is paid for, our suppliers are paid for. We’re actually taking that money that’s coming through and that’s what’s floating our business. If all we’re paying at expenditures are some hard costs meaning rent and our food costs, then we can make it.

Dr. Mark Hyman (41:32):
And then you think it’ll open up within a year or two? I mean, because it seems like a large trajectory to restaurant opening.

Tom Colicchio (41:38):
Vaccine. The economy will stay depressed until there’s a vaccine. There are some places that’ll do really well. Food storage will do really well. The Amazons in the world they’re going to just crush it. Zoom is … they’re doing okay. There are pockets that’ll do really well during this time, but the restaurant industry is not going to come back. Listen also keep in mind one of my restaurants, Riverpark, it’s over near NYU, 60% of our business is private functions. We have a conference center. That business isn’t coming back anytime soon.

Dr. Mark Hyman (42:17):
No, right.

Tom Colicchio (42:20):
And that’s not coming back until there’s a vaccine. I listened to Fauci the other day, he thinks possibly by fall there could be a vaccine.

Dr. Mark Hyman (42:29):
There could be, but there’s a lot of questions about it. It’s not like a typical vaccine for measles or polio. These vaccines are hard to do for respiratory viruses.

Tom Colicchio (42:39):

Dr. Mark Hyman (42:40):
They’re not 100% effective. There is a lot of questions. I mean, I hope it’s going to be a miracle and maybe they will be, but I worry about it. I worry about the restaurant industry because people are afraid to go out. People are concerned about how to stay safe when they go out. I mean, it’s the thing I miss a lot because I used to eat in restaurants a lot, but people are struggling. As a restaurant owner, how are you navigating this? I mean, as an individual.

Tom Colicchio (43:07):
My restaurants are all closed. I thought it was important. I weighed try to open up and do community service or something. I thought and this is me personally, I’m not casting dispersions at anyone who made a different choice, but my decision was keep my staff home, keep them with their families, keep them safe. I have a few friends of mine that are ER doctors who both had COVID, came out the other side. They’re bad to work and they would tell me horror stories. My feeling was keep people safe. My employees are coming out in public transportation and so I didn’t want to make them come to work. Plus, knowing that the federal unemployment bump actually put a good amount of dollars into people’s pockets, especially since people weren’t going out, so I got a good sense from my staff that they were doing okay. Out of all the employees that we laid off I think it was close to 420, I think, 470 somewhere in there. Only about 20 couldn’t receive unemployment and we helped them out. That was why I made that decision.

Tom Colicchio (44:13):
But, as things are starting to go better in New York one of my restaurants, Craft, we may open up next week as a meal kit restaurant meaning we’ll do all the prep. You still might have to cook some of it at home.

Dr. Mark Hyman (44:26):
Oh, wow.

Tom Colicchio (44:27):
It’s like we cut all the vegetables and we’ll marinate them in olive oil and herbs and we’ll plastic wrap them and we’ll have a whole chicken that’s already been brined and tied and ready to go.

Dr. Mark Hyman (44:37):

Tom Colicchio (44:37):
And we’ll give you some directions and even do a video. Take those vegetables, put them in your roasting pan-

Dr. Mark Hyman (44:41):
I love that.

Tom Colicchio (44:42):
… put the chicken [crosstalk 00:44:43]. Put it in the oven for 50 minutes. It’s like Blue Apron, but for families.

Dr. Mark Hyman (44:45):
Yeah. I love that.

Tom Colicchio (44:47):
Other restaurants are doing it. It’s not my idea. Also, turn our private dining room, that we just renovated and we can’t use, into a butcher shop and a gourmet store because people who live around the restaurant maybe they don’t want to go to a big supermarket and they want to support restaurants and so we’ll sell olive oils and vinegars and mustards and we’ll sell beans. Flour you can’t buy anywhere, so we’ll sell flour because we can buy the 50-pound bags and break it up. We’ll sell flour and beans and stuff like that. We’ll have six to seven. We’ll do pastas and sauces, so you can buy pasta that we make, fresh pasta and we’ll give pesto sauce or we’ll give you bolognese. We’re putting together a menu of things that you can assemble at home very quickly and that’s how we’re going to go forward with that restaurant. I have another-

Dr. Mark Hyman (45:38):
And will that be profitable or it’ll just be a way to-

Tom Colicchio (45:41):
No idea. No idea.

Dr. Mark Hyman (45:45):
Because you can’t do the same volumes you did.

Tom Colicchio (45:47):
No, no. Luckily for me I have a landlord that’s working with us. We’ve been there 19 years and so they want to keep us there and so they’re working with us. Because of PPP, I’m paying my staff with PPP, so that’s an expense I’m not using and paying whatever rent I’m paying with PPP as well. I may have a shot at making. I don’t know. We’ll see. Right now, those are the food businesses that are busy. It’s supermarkets and all gourmet stores. In Brooklyn, Olmsted’s a great restaurant and Greg, the chef there he moved very quickly to this model and has been doing pretty well from what I understand.

Dr. Mark Hyman (46:28):
And this is actually a way for America to get cooking again, which I think we all need to do, right?

Tom Colicchio (46:33):
It is. It is. People are. Day one I closed the restaurants and in the morning I woke up and I was on Twitter and I said something along the lines of, “I know many of you out there don’t cook regularly if you have any questions like [inaudible 00:46:50].” And then I went about my business all day long. And like 11:00 at night-

Dr. Mark Hyman (46:54):
4,000 questions.

Tom Colicchio (46:56):
Not only that, it created a community. I used the hashtag cooking through a crisis and it started this community of people who were helping each other so I didn’t have to. And then it was like if someone had a question about X, Y, Z, someone would say, “Well, try this, this and this,” and it just created this great community. Actually, People Magazine picked it up. It was pretty funny. Listen, in my restaurants what I missed most I miss seeing my team. I see them occasionally on Zoom meetings, but not the bartenders, not the waitstaff, not the baristas, not the porters. I’m seeing my management team. But restaurants are like families. The funny thing is I have seven restaurants, two are in Las Vegas so I don’t know them, but the restaurants that I own, the four in New York they’re all individual families. We do get together occasionally like on maybe a holiday party or something, but for the most part they become their own little families and people are missing each other.

Tom Colicchio (47:50):
We did a Zoom meeting for the staff last week and that chat was all just miss you, miss you, miss seeing you. That’s what you miss, you miss that connection and I think that’s the COVIDs doing. They’re not interacting. Luckily, for me out here I have a few families that I know have been safe and we’re starting to interact again outside, not inside and our kids are playing, but we have to trust each other. Most likely, if I go to New York and open a restaurant I’m going to have to sort of step back for two weeks or so. That’s the kind of system that we’ve worked out for friends that start to get together and so far we’ve been okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman (48:31):
Yeah, I mean [crosstalk 00:48:32] it’s a new world. I think the other question I had for you finally is a lot of restaurants are not as big or successful as yours and they might have survival issues longterm and I think that in addition to the restaurants a lot of the suppliers of the restaurants are struggling, independent farmers. How are these restaurants and farmers innovating to stay afloat and what’s going to happen going forward? It seems like there’s going to be a lot of people that are just going to go out of business.

Tom Colicchio (49:02):
All right, so let’s sort of tease this out a little bit. There’s two food supply chains in this country. One are the farmers that sell into supermarkets, the other are farmers that sell primarily to restaurants or to farmers markets. When you read stories of milk being thrown out that’s because you have a milk producer who has a deal with a processor. That processor processes milk for institutional places like colleges or hotels where they’re putting it in five-gallon containers and it’s not labeled the same way milk would be labeled for the consumer and so that business dried up. That farmer doesn’t have an outlet anymore so that’s why they’re dumping the milk. That processor can’t change very quickly and start putting milk in quarts and half gallons with proper labeling, so that’s why you’re seeing milk being thrown out. Same thing with pig farmers that are killing their animals. When that animal is 200 pounds it needs to get processed. That processor closes down because of COVID [crosstalk 00:49:57]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (49:57):
It’s crazy.

Tom Colicchio (49:58):
Those animals don’t have nowhere to go.

Dr. Mark Hyman (49:58):
There was all these hungry people not getting food and there’s all these [crosstalk 00:50:01] farms that are having to throw out their food. I mean, it’s kind of a-

Tom Colicchio (50:03):
There’s a fix for that too. If the government just … And this is Jose Andres and he’s putting it out there in the FEED Act, which is starting to get some steam. If they just started taking dollars and putting them into restaurants we could’ve kept that supply chain intact and kept producing food for communities. That would’ve been a very easy way to not break that link, but you have to plan for that. We could’ve very easily turned on a dime, but you have to have a plan for that and our government didn’t have a plan for that. Hopefully with the next one we will. Some of the farmers have done a pretty good job of getting their CSAs together. More people are getting CSA boxes. Dan Barber, a chef up at Stone Barns is using his farmers to put together CSA boxes for his clients, so that’s a way of keeping that supply chain intact. That’s some of what I’m going to do when I reopen Craft.

Tom Colicchio (50:51):
Some farmers haven’t been able to make that pivot and so they’re in trouble. The James Beard Foundation did a survey of chefs and restaurateurs and only 20% of the chefs and restaurateurs they serve had say they will open up. Only 20% and so-

Dr. Mark Hyman (51:09):
20% of the restaurants that-

Tom Colicchio (51:10):
Yeah, they [inaudible 00:51:11].

Dr. Mark Hyman (51:12):
That means 80% are going to go out of business?

Tom Colicchio (51:14):
80% don’t know.

Dr. Mark Hyman (51:15):

Tom Colicchio (51:15):
It’s not that they’ll definitely close, they just don’t know. They’re unsure of the future. Most chefs, most restaurateurs they don’t have the wherewithal to get through this. I only have five restaurants and without PPP we’re out of cash. We’ll figure out a way to get open, but it’s going to be tough.

Dr. Mark Hyman (51:40):
And these are marginal businesses at best. They’re not high [crosstalk 00:51:43] profit margin businesses, so you just-

Tom Colicchio (51:45):
No, not at all. Not at all. Over the last 10 years, it’s become even more difficult. Rents are going up, especially in big cities. I had to close a restaurant because my rent doubled. My lease ran out and the rent was doubled. I had to close Craftbar.

Dr. Mark Hyman (51:57):

Tom Colicchio (52:00):
Yeah, so listen we’re in trouble and the problem, again, this is why we’re arguing why the restaurant industry is the place where you want to put stimulus dollars because it’s not only the restaurants, it’s the farmers, it’s the fisherman, it’s the winemakers, the cheese makers, the person who delivers my linen. Even the musicians who may play a Sunday brunch. All of those people are part of our-

Dr. Mark Hyman (52:22):

Tom Colicchio (52:24):
Yeah, our ecosystem. You extrapolate that, it’s close to 20 million people. You don’t want to see that go away. You don’t want to see a farmer have to lose their land because they can’t produce food and so this why we’re making the argument for why restaurants should be saved.

Dr. Mark Hyman (52:39):
Do you think that we’ll actually get past? Do you have a sense of what’s happening in Washington around it [crosstalk 00:52:44] because it seems like a great idea.

Tom Colicchio (52:45):
Well, who knows? When the jobs report came out last week and we added 2-1/2 million jobs, but we lost 16 before that. Maybe more than that before so I’m not sure why we’re sort of rallying around that. All of a sudden just like the deficit’s getting too high, we can’t bring more money out there. The Federal Reserve came out today and said we’re going to see a long, sort of many, many months, maybe years of employment being at 10%, so I think they’re going to have to stimulate the economy, especially since this is an election year, so that’s what we have going for us. We also just put out a pretty in-depth financial study where we are making the argument that the $120 billion that are spent will actually return $250 billion worth of economic activity. We think we’re making a really good argument and hopefully congress will come through.

Tom Colicchio (53:42):
Right now, Congressman Blumenauer who’s a congressman from the Portland area in Oregon, he wrote a bill. It’s going through committee right now. He has a partner on the senate side, Senator Wicker, who’s a Republican from Alabama. He was working with Kyrsten Sinema and Cory Booker. We have both sides of the aisle working on this and hopefully we can get buy-in from more people.

Dr. Mark Hyman (54:12):
Oh, I hope so because we all love restaurants and if that industry goes under it’s going to be hard to pull it back. All the 20 million food and farm workers are involved in some way or another and I think it’s a moment for us to stop and think how we do want our food system to be. If we want it to be so centralized, we want to decentralize it. Do want to make it more equitable? How do we create a more just and fair food system? And this is sort of highlighting some of the cracks in our food system that need to get fixed [crosstalk 00:54:38] and you are at the center of it unfortunately, but it’s-

Tom Colicchio (54:41):
Yeah. Without restaurants we’re going to see more of a centralized food system because restaurants are where those independent farmers are actually selling their food into, so this is another reason why you need restaurants.

Dr. Mark Hyman (54:55):
That’s right. Well, you’re one of my heroes, Tom, and I can’t wait until I get to go back and eat at Craft. I’m going to go get the takeout stuff for sure.

Tom Colicchio (55:03):
Yeah, come and see us. I think by next week we’ll have it up and running. Thanks for having me on the podcast.

Dr. Mark Hyman (55:10):
Of course.

Tom Colicchio (55:11):
[inaudible 00:55:11], I’ll see you in person too.

Dr. Mark Hyman (55:13):
Yes. Everybody who … This is my cat.

Tom Colicchio (55:17):
I just had a puppy. I just had a puppy, we’re all excited [inaudible 00:55:19]. Our dog after 11 years passed away in November and it took a lot of sort of breaking down my wife to get another puppy, but we got a puppy two weeks ago so we’re pretty psyched [inaudible 00:55:30].

Dr. Mark Hyman (55:30):
Well, I encourage everyone to check out Tom’s work. He’s written a number of great books, Think Like a Chef, Craft of Cooking, ‘wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich. And definitely check out his podcast, he’s topped my list, Citizen Chef, which is available wherever you get your podcasts. If you loved this conversation, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment. Share with your friends and family. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and we’ll see you next time on the Doctor’s Farmacy.

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