Posted on September 23, 2013 in Blog
A panel discussion on January 21 will bring together academics, authors, and coffee professionals to discuss how ideas about sustainability in coffee are evolving.
Sustainability is notoriously complex, embedded in deeply interdependent environmental, social, and economic contexts. And coffee, which must play convoluted games of global leap frog to get from farms into our cups, is no less tricky.
On the environmental front, there are severe consequences for poor land management and climate change, energy inputs to process and transport it, and consumer waste here in the US. The economic challenges to sustainability may be the most acute and pressing: coffee farmers and their families often have wildly fluctuating incomes and little to no control over what prices they will be paid, limited access to credit to pay for the costs of improvements, and many suffer from seasonal hunger once the harvest is over. A major purpose of certifications like Fair Trade and USDA Organic is to provide farmers with direct access to coffee buyers, to level off some of the vast insecurity that has prevailed in global coffee markets for decades. When it comes to social justice, there are many issues: historical paternalism, indigenous land rights, government infrastructure, and the great wealth disparity between coffee growers and coffee drinkers.
In the last three decades, the coffee industry—somewhat uniquely—has entwined itself with sustainability at a deep level. Fair Trade began with Mexican indigenous coffee growers and grew to be an international movement. These days, Fair Trade is both expanding and being usefully challenged and questioned by coffee roasters and their farm partners who are focusing on quality as an alternative avenue for market access and long-term survival.
There are no easy answers.
When I was writing my book Left Coast Roast, for which I interviewed 60 coffee roasters, the issue of sustainability was among the thorniest topics of conversation. But it led to some of the most interesting conversations I had with coffee roasters, in which thoughtful, passionate people were willing to grapple with their own beliefs.
I was interested in exploring how ideas about sustainability have changed in the last decade, and in hearing from both coffee roasters and academics on the issue. What is known about effective solutions? What are we still guessing at? Are quality and sustainability mutually reinforcing or do they sometimes conflict? This last question is particularly relevant to the work of the Good Food Awards.
I am grateful that the amazing folks at CUESA in San Francisco were keen to take up the topic and agreed to sponsor a panel discussion on it that would tie to the Good Food Awards presentation.
If you’ve ever grappled with these questions over a hot cup of coffee, I hope to see you there.
Coffee and Sustainability Panel Discussion
San Francisco Ferry Building
January 21, 6 pm
Coffee is a daily necessity for many of us, savored quietly in the kitchen, downed at work as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or sipped at a cafe among friends. With the exploding popularity of coffee in recent years, there are more options than ever, and more confusing messages about what “sustainable” means. Which coffee should we choose? In the Bay Area, you won’t find any coffee farms, but you will find local artisan roasters who are grappling with these questions, selecting their beans not only for quality and taste but also for values. Join CUESA for a discussion of the ethics behind a cup of coffee: What is its environmental footprint? Are the farmers taking care of the land? Are they getting a fair price, and what is the effect on the communities along the supply chain?
Hanna Neuschwander, author of Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle, will introduce the complexities of growing coffee and moving it around the globe. She will moderate the panel.
Christopher Bacon, environmental social scientist, professor at Santa Clara University, and co-author of Confronting the Coffee Crisis
Stephen Vick, quality control manager at Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
Colby Barr of Verve Coffee Roasters, 2013 Good Food Award Finalist
There will be a reception following the panel, at which Blue Bottle and Verve coffees will be available for tasting.
Posted on September 29, 2012 in Blog
We are so looking forward to announcing the Good Food Merchants Guild Charter Members in early October. Our first month has been a flurry of applications, and as we work through our vetting process it is truly inspirational to see the passion and work devoted to creating Good Food, as well as the drive to push the movement further.
The hot topic all month has been sustainable ingredient sourcing. From a Colorado preserver who is seeking organic sugar, to a group of Virginia applicants who want to switch their milk and egg suppliers in order to become eligible for Guild membership, the desire of producers to improve their sourcing plans is a testament to the amazing spirit of the Good Food community. That so many applicants are committed to working toward the greater goals of a more sustainable food system shows us that the Good Food Merchants Guild is poised to become a leading network of outstanding American craft food producers.
With the expertise of our talented Advisory Board as well as a far-reaching network of friends and colleagues across the country, we are working to build a database of sustainable ingredient sources for our members. Through the database, Guild members will be able to access information on where to find the most tasty, responsible, and authentic ingredients at the most reasonable prices available. Look out for this soon-to-come feature and many more member benefits in the near future!
Posted on August 13, 2012 in Blog
As we at the Good Food Awards are want to celebrate, there is a growing crop of food and beverage producers in this country, reviving the traditional crafts of preserving, brewing, roasting, and distilling with a focus on taste, authenticity and responsible production, so it is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of the Good Food Merchants Guild.
The Guild is the first-of-its-kind organization poised to unite American Good Food (and beverage!) producers. Growing from the wonderful folks who participate in the Good Food Awards, the Guild will connect producers with sellers, enable information sharing, facilitate joint marketing and become a bridge to other organizations seeking to support Good Food businesses.
Membership in the Good Food Guild is open to both retailers and craft food and beverage businesses, in the nine industries that the Good Food Awards works with and beyond to include all traditional American craft food traditions, from butter to cookies to crackers, mead, cider and more.
Day one saw a dozen applicants from Virginia, New York, California, Ohio and Tennessee and we are looking forward to seeing how we grow together into a vibrant economic force. All the ‘charter members’ – those that join this month – receive a free entry into the Good Food Awards. It’s going to be a big year for Good Food.
Posted on August 7, 2012 in Blog
The Good Food Awards is excited to announce the launch of its third year with a call for entries through August 31!
We are inviting food producers from across the country to submit their beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles, preserves, pickles and – new this year – confections to America’s first national Award program to consider sustainability and taste.
A blind tasting with Alice Waters, Nell Newman, the food editors of Bon Appetit and 130 other taste makers will determine which craft food businesses are recognized as the Good Food Award winners of 2013. The catch: everything must be produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. A short online entry form and sustainability criteria are available here. The entry fee is $50, which goes to cover the sorting, storing and transporting of an anticipated 1,000 entries.
All winners are honored at a gala awards ceremony with Alice Waters, invited to sell their wares at the 15,000 person Good Food Awards Marketplace and can proudly display the Good Food Awards Seal all year long. Last year’s 99 winners also received some unexpected perks, from special placements in Whole Foods Market, Williams Sonoma stores nationwide and independent grocers from Bi Rite Market to Formaggio Kitchen, to media coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post and New York Times. The annual sales increases reported by winners are indicative of both stronger craft food businesses across the country and an estimated increase of $800,000 going to the sustainable farms providing their ingredients.
In further Good Food news, the awards have responded to the desire from Good Food businesses to be distinguished and united based on their values with a new sort of trade association, the Good Food Merchants Guild. Led by values of transparency, innovation and responsible production, the Merchants Guild is at the frontier of America’s food movement, uniting, distinguishing and connecting Good Food businesses across the country. Charter members joining in August will receive one free product entry into the Good Food Awards. Learn more at www.http://goodfoodmerchantsguild.org.
Enter your Good Food HERE.
Photo Credit: Lisa Scott Owen
Posted on June 4, 2012 in Blog
When the stock market crashed in 2007, most Americans saw impending doom. But Jenny Fulton, co-founder of Miss Jenny’s Pickles, saw an opportunity. After realizing that the tanking economy would probably take her money managing job down with it, she and her former assistant, Ashlee Furr, decided to roll up their sleeves, get in the dirt, and start a pickle company. Since that fateful beginning, they have gone on to win a 2012 Good Food Award for their Habanero Bread and Butter Pickles and sell their products at large and small retailers alike. Check out the details of their amazing story here!
Posted on June 1, 2012 in Blog
Here at the Good Food Awards we always love to see our winners get the recognition they deserve, and not just when they get it from us. So today we are excited to extend our congratulations to Good Food Awards spirits winner Ballast Point Brewing, and especially to its CEO, Jack White, for winning San Diego’s Small Business Administration award for businessman of the year.
Congratulations again! We’ll be here celebrating with an award winning shot of Ballast Point Barrel Aged Three Sheets Rum!
Posted on May 14, 2012 in Blog
It’s never a surprise to hear that one of our esteemed Good Food Award winners is receiving yet another honor for its delicious, artfully crafted food. This week, we are excited to announce that cheese from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company will be served at a “bounteous feast to celebrate the Hudson Valley’s most respected food artisans” in Soho, New York City on May 30. Congratulations not only to Old Chatham, but also to the lucky 40 guests who will get to try some of the company’s amazing cheeses!