Is food the key to solving our healthcare crisis? In this episode marking the two-year anniversary of Add Passion and Stir, Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Washington DC Chef Todd Gray (Equinox, Manna) discuss nutrition as the root cause of our spiraling healthcare costs and the role of Congress with Debbie and Billy Shore. “Food is medicine. What we eat determines our health outcomes in a whole range of areas,” says Congressman McGovern. “We are cooking and operating our restaurant in the way that we are living our lives. I have so many customers changing the way they eat for a multitude of reasons many of them health reasons,” says five-time James Beard Foundation nominee Gray of his healthy vegetable-forward menus that have established him as a leader in the DC sustainable food movement.
McGovern wants to reframe the debate over food programs like SNAP from how much they cost to how much they save. “If we can show you over a ten-year period that you could actually save money, then why would [The Congressional Budget Office] score it as a cost? Hunger and food insecurity in Massachusetts costs about $2.4B a year in avoidable health care costs,” he says. The guests agree that hunger is ultimately a political problem. “We have the food, we have the money, we have the knowledge of what we need to do, we have the infrastructure… we have everything but the political will,” explains McGovern.
Listen to these powerful anti-hunger crusaders talk about how they fight for healthier communities.
Resources and Mentions:
· No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
· Jim McGovern is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts’s 2nd congressional district. He was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. While in college at American University, he worked as a congressional aide to U.S. Senator George McGovern (to whom he has no relation), a two-time presidential candidate for whom he campaigned. From 1981 to 1996 he was a senior staff member for U.S. Representative Joe Moakley. McGovern first ran for Congress in 1994, where he lost in the Democratic primary. He ran again in 1996, defeating Republican incumbent Peter Blute. He has been reelected every two years since. He has focused on international human rights in countries such as El Salvador, Sudan, and Colombia. He is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has been ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress. As co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, McGovern is an advocate for expanding child nutrition programs both domestically and internationally.
· Todd Gray is chef and co-owner (with his wife, Ellen) of Equinox in Washington DC. Raised in Virginia, Chef Gray studied at the University of Richmond and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. He has been involved with Share Our Strength since its inception. As a five-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Award, Todd’s background in classical French and Italian techniques, proclivity for invention, and unflappable kitchen leadership has made him a sought-after culinary mentor and an influential leader in the world of D.C. gastronomy. In 2010, Todd was called on by First Lady Michelle Obama to kick off the nation’s first Chefs to Schools program. Todd has also garnered critical acclaim for developing innovative vegan fine-dining brunch and dinner menus. In late 2017, Todd and Ellen opened Manna in the new Museum of the Bible in Southwest Washington.
· Equinox is an organic, root-to-stem, fine dining restaurant in Washington DC. Inspired by the mid-Atlantic region and crafted in accordance with the earth’s natural rhythms, Equinox Restaurant helped to pioneer the sustainable food movement in Washington, D.C. Over the course of 20 years in operation, it has received numerous awards from local, regional and national publications such as the Washington Post, Conde Nast, Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator to name a few.