Posted on January 10, 2015 in News
“Thank you Alice. And one more important thank you to our Master of Ceremonies. It should come as no surprise that Bi-Rite Market was the very first company to ever write a check to the Good Food Awards. Thank you Sam for your vision, your support, and for making us feel like we have an extended family down on 18th Street.
At the Good Food Awards Marketplace this weekend, some of you may notice the statue of Gandhi perched behind the Ferry Building, in purposeful mid-stride amongst the bustling shoppers. Then again, you might notnotice it. While tall enough to tower over the 15,000 visitors, the humble, be-speckled Gandhi has a way of remaining hidden, unobtrusive, waiting patiently for those ready to see him. Alice Waters loves that statue. For years I wondered what it was doing at the farmers market, but I’ve come to believe that of all the great figures in history, it might be Gandhi who would best understand us.
Over the decades it took to gain independence, it was the very same traits that made Gandhi an unlikely leader of millions, which made him so effective. A thoughtful, introverted man, Gandhi’s gentle resistance led to the liberation of his country, became the model for the American Civil Rights Movement, and triggered the demise of imperialism all around the world. In the spring of 1930, in his most famous act of civil disobedience, Gandhi set out with a few dozen followers on a march to the sea. That dozen soon became hundreds, the hundreds thousands, and by the time he reached the coastal salt flats he was at the head of sixty thousand revolutionaries. Gandhi reached down, harvested a lump of sea salt – thousands of others did the same – and in that instant, taking the food system into their own hands, they ended compliance with an exploitive monopoly, marking the beginning of the end for British rule.
As food crafters, your commonality with this great revolutionary does not end at a shared appreciation for salt. To succeed in your crafts, you must possess many of the traits that guided Gandhi: patience, focus and conviction are required in all of your professions. The patience to coax downy white mold onto rows of drying salami, or hunt down the elusive Marionberry during the few weeks it is ripe for that special jam. The focus to perfect your craft that has brought you into this room – rising above 1,462 entries in the Good Food Awards. And history shows that rather than being satisfied from this feat, it will only add fire to your continued pursuit of excellent.
Conviction. Knowing deep down that what you do and the way you do it is creating tighter, stronger, more just societies. Ignoring business as usual, you build companies that feel like families, transform cities into tight knit communities, and support every social cause with a keg of beer or wheel of cheese. You pay more than fair trade prices to people living thousands of miles away and are the number one customers of farmers down the street. Your goats have names and you call your bees your ladies.
We live in a moment that celebrates noise and bravado, and it can feel like to have an impactful– or even simply to make it from month to month – we need to shout louder, be more outrageous, than everyone else.
The quiet power wielded by all of you is more elusive, yet more potent than you could ever imagine. Noise creates sparks, but it is quiet power that sustains the flames. It is quiet power that fueled Gandhi on a three decade long crusade that transformed the world forever. The power of being and doing with total conviction should never be underestimated.
Daily you defy the supposition that communities, countries, continents cannot be fed on good food. Your mere existence refutes the theory that businesses must embark on unsavory practices to survive. Through your unwavering focus on creating something truly good, you are taking the system into your own hands.
It fell to our parents and grandparents to gather salt with Gandhi, to march for Civil Rights. Now it falls to us to quietly, powerfully liberate our country from a food system that denies the simplest joys of life to the citizens of the world’s wealthiest society. As surely as Gandhi’s revolutionaries made their voices heard by gathering salt by the sea, what you craft is more than a jar of this or a bottle of that. It is a refusal to be part of unjust labor, land and business practices that are the devastating and widely unchallenged status quo.
If condiments held the key to global liberation a hundred years ago, who’s to say they don’t still today? You sit-in in your kitchens, protest in the markets and show political power in the grocery aisle. I am proud and humbled to stand amongst the creative force that is the 146 Good Food Award Winners of 2015. I invite you to celebrate our quiet power by making a little noise tonight. Thank you.”