Good Food Awards

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Closing Remarks from the Good Food Awards Ceremony

Posted on January 24, 2014 in Blog

“For two years, my father refused to wear shoes. He grew a blond Afro, protested the war, and stood up for equality. He was part of a generation that believed in new ideas, shifting the status quo. Before my father, his friends and a few million free thinkers preached peace, equality and community, society went along with racial, gender and global injustice, and the constraint and loneliness often felt living life within a rigid mold, insensitive to the diversity of the 300 million Americans living it.

Five years before the Afro, my dad had a crew cut and lived in a modest nuclear family. A path was laid out for him: marry, work from nine to five, using your head and not your hands if you can help it. Accumulate a sofa, the latest appliances, have children. I asked him one day what moved him – what moved a generation – to deviate so greatly from this plan. To opt out, find the bravado to say the status quo was devoid of something important and blaze a different path.

Bob Dylan. The Beatles. Janis Joplin. Paul Simon. Artists, poets and musicians who, through their art, expressed something everyone was feeling. Through their craft they translated deep yearnings – authenticity, passion, community, connection – into a language my father’s generation could understand. They would go on to fame and fortune, but at the most basic level, they were sensitive people who saw injustice and felt emptiness in living the status quo and were driven to give voice to the creativity within. Unable to walk the road their parents had, they pursued a path that brought with it community, joy and self-expression.

Young people everywhere were drawn to their words and sound, and saw in these artists a different model of how to live: a choice of connection and expression rather than consumption and security. The integrity and dedication with which these musicians practiced their art attracted people to them, opened the door to a new way of being.

Lately, I hear a lot of people compare food producers to rock stars. But I beg to differ. You are not rock stars; you are the folk musicians and poet-revolutionaries of our generation.  Now, it is your art that resonates with people all across the country, in every state, more and more every day. Your dedication to your craft – be it coffee roasting, brewing, curing, preserving or cheese making – is inspirational and shines true in an age where attention spans run shorter than 140 characters, fame is born from reality TV rather than exceptional talent, and our greatest musicians sign deals with Coke and PepsiCo.  Your creations are experienced on a visceral level; your passion comes across in every bite.

More than musicians, more than writers, you live the virtues of authenticity, passion, community, and connection. Every food crafter celebrated tonight has by necessity created a tightknit community around them. Without deep ties to the farmers, foragers and ranchers who care about cultivating and rearing the very best, you could never achieve the level of excellence you have, rising to the top in a blind tasting of 1,450 foods from all 50 states. An intoxicating passion for your work comes across every time I speak to one of you about what you do. Connection happens the moment I taste a bite and watch you watching me, sharing my joy. You come from 32 states, expressing what grows there uniquely – Wild Black walnut oil from Missouri; pickled sea beans from the California Coast, Buffalo Pastrami from Colorado. Your work is a true and authentic expression of tradition. And like any good artist, you walk this path not for the promise of a pot gold at the end, but from a drive to express what is deep inside you.

Walking this path we have discovered a wealth our parents never talked about when extolling the virtues of becoming a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant. Generosity is a way of life, and our souls relax into the abundance of good food and drink that is the backdrop of a great food crafter’s life. Daily we experience the joy of exquisite taste, and watching others enraptured by what we create.  The freedom of knowing we are answering a call inherent in our souls, the fullness of working in tandem with the seasons, our communities, and our creativity in contrast to the bleak emptiness of doing a job simply to do a job.

Like the great artists and musicians of the 60s, both our art and our example of living – social norms be damned – are having far reaching effects within our culture. Colleges from Harvard to Yale to NYU offer classes in food studies. Food businesses are amongst the top growing industries in America. Young people are leaving jobs as computer programmers to start jobs as chocolate makers. Venture capitalists who got rich from Facebook and Twitter are investing in coffee roasteries and olive presses. More people than ever are incorporating Good Food into their daily lives, realizing it is worth every penny to have something tasty, authentic and responsible. Everyone wants to be close to you and what you do, because it is real, tangible, joyful, connected. The effect of leading a more joyful life – the effect of connecting to someone who made what you are about to put in your mouth – the effect of sharing your art with other people you love and bringing them happiness – experiencing the attitude of generosity and discovery that is pervasive amongst great food makers – these effects on cultural norms, and indeed, global events, can not be underestimated.

Like the 60s, we are living in a time of great shifts and uncertainty. People are tiring of the accumulation of things, faster, more information, more productivity, and seeking a different way to live. But they need someone to show them the way – a way to cut through the surface and reach human generosity, a thoughtful way, a connected way, a joyful way to live. Food is the way, and you are the poet-revolutionaries to lead us there.”

-Sarah Weiner, Executive Director, Seedling Projects

Pickles Judge Addie Rose Recaps Blind Tasting

Posted on September 23, 2013 in Blog

Pickles Judge Addie Rose Recaps Blind Tasting

Posted on in Blog, Home Page, News, Pickles

Coffee and Sustainability

Posted on January 10, 2013 in Blog, Home Page

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.

-Hanna Neuschwander

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.

Good Food Merchants Guild Charter Members

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!

The Good Food Merchants Guild is Open!

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.

The Good Food Awards Entry Period is Here!

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.

Enter your Good Food HERE.

Photo Credit: Lisa Scott Owen

Miss Jenny’s Pickles Turns Loss Into Good Food Opportunity

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!

Congratulations to Ballast Point Brewing!

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!

Old Chatham Sheepherding Company To Be Featured At Feast Honoring Hudson Valley Artisans

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!