This weekend, the West Coast experienced a whirlwind of artisan food activity. Kicking off a weekend that saw many of the nation's leading food crafters, grocers, chefs, journalists, and activists convene on Baghdad by the Bay, the ninth annual Good Food Awards held its award ceremony—celebrating 220 food and drink crafters spread across more than 30 states. The gala ceremony, held Friday, January 11, honored American food and drink crafters who demonstrate a commitment to creating tasty, authentic, and responsible products and, by doing so, bettering the U.S. food system.
“Through your very existence—by growing and thriving and continuing on through seasons of boom and bust—you show everyone that America’s appetite for truly good food is here to stay,” the Good Food Foundation affirmed at the close of the ceremony. “At a time when the message of ‘us versus them’ grows louder, you quietly yet firmly send a different message about how this country works and what we value. Everyday—through the choice to protect our land and waters, to pay fairly and transparently, to build community wellness alongside your businesses—you say ‘all of us or none of us.'”
2019 winners were selected from ethically minded artisan producers from 34 states and Washington, D.C. Winners were selected by a panel of 262 judges from 2,035 entries in blind tastings held this September. The highest scoring entries then underwent a rigorous vetting process to verify they were not only exceptionally tasty, but met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria required to become a Good Food Award winner.
Winners included products as far flung as Fra’Mani’s signature Salametto and Olympia Provisions’ Saucisson Sec, Calivirgin’s Jalepeño Garlic Olive Oil, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company’s Original Blue and Gouda, St. Benoit Creamery’s Plain Yogurt, and Sweet Grass Dairy’s Griffin.
“The experience of winning a Good Food Award is very humbling,” said Bill Miner, Owner of Il Porcellino, who took home an award for the company’s Pepperoni. “I’m proud to be part of such an amazing food community. We really care about how we source our ingredients—especially raw pork—and it means a lot to us to work with farmers who are raising the animals properly, ethically, and giving them a good life.”
Award winners included both innovative new company’s and storied artisanal operations with well-deserved reputations.
“This is our fourth Good Food Award. It’s really exciting. It’s just an honor to be recognized by an organization that supports good food and has their values in the right spot,” said Louisa Conrad, Founder of Big Picture Farms. “We’re thrilled.”
From craft cheesemakers to condiment-makers to chocolatiers invested in tracking down the best and most sustainably-sourced cacao, the Good Food Awards brought together an entire community devoted to transformative change in the food space.
“It’s an honor and feels validating of the work that we put in. We’re particularly excited because the bars that we won with last year and this year are made from this bean that we’ve been working with in a coop in Peru. The fact that their bean has won an award two years in a row is exciting. This validation here lets us go back and let them know and tell them to keep up the good work they’ve been doing there,” said Xocolatl Founder Matt Weyandt, who won for the company’s Ripple Effect small batch chocolate. “And the exposure, meeting with other vendors, wholesalers, and distributors, is an added bonus.”
Friday’s ceremony was followed by the Good Food Mercantile San Francisco, an “un-trade show” where members of the Good Food Guild could meet with motivated buyers and like-minded fellow suppliers.
“We call the Mercantile an 'un-trade show' because we take out the things that are unpleasant about traditional trade shows that typically convene tens of thousands of buyers and instead cultivate a one-day, intimate gathering of approximately 150 like-minded food crafters and 500 merchants,” Katherine Harris, Merchants and Special Projects Manager for the Good Food Foundation, shared with me. “All crafters have passed category-specific sustainability vetting to become part of the Good Food Guild, have access to the same sized booths, and pay approximately a quarter of the price of other trade shows to exhibit.”
At the mercantile, I had the chance to experience, firsthand, the community that the Good Food Foundation fosters—and to meet with the award-winning producers.
“Any time you win an award its exciting and, as a producer, feels validating, but because of the standards of the Good Food Awards and the likeminded producers that we’re with, it feels much more special,” Jessica Little, Co-Owner of Sweet Grass Dairy told me. “We were so excited to win a Good Food Award for our newest cheese called ‘Griffin.’”
Sash Sunday, Founder and Fermentationist for OlyKraut noted: “It’s fantastic. We work so hard to honor our values, and we put all this into these businesses—and it costs more to do that; it makes it a little harder—but then we get to be celebrated for that. That’s nice. It makes it feel worthwhile.”
“I think, for me, the greatest thing was being able to hear other people’s stories,” noted Storied Goods Owner and granola maker Martha Bourlakas. “I think that food stories are some of the most significant of our lives and help us connect with each other. It was just great to hear everyone’s stories and be part of the whole event.”
For a complete list of Good Food Award winners, click here. And keep reading Deli Market News for more dairy, deli, bakery, and specialty food news.