Celebrating Goodness at the Good Food Awards | Civil Eats

Celebrating Goodness at the Good Food Awards

Here we are again, right at the starting gate of awards season, and the designer gowns, flash bulbs and red carpets are adding a bit of bling to the dark winter Hollywood nights.  Further up the coast in San Francisco, this year unveiled a truly unique, Bay Area-style awards ceremony dedicated not to glamour and celebrity but to pure, just, and delicious food. 

The first annual Good Food Awards set out to proclaim the very best of our nation’s small batch food products and producers.  The idea was hatched by Seedling Projects Executive Director Sarah Weiner, who ceaselessly strives to discover, share and promote regional food endeavors with a sustainable, yet global view. The seven categories (Coffee, Charcuterie, Cheese, Beer, Pickles, Preserves, Chocolate) gleaned 780 products from around the country in which 80 judges painstakingly chose 71 award winners who all gathered at an awards ceremony on January 14, 2011 to hear the results.  The over 400 attendees wore perhaps less Gucci and diamonds, more Frye boots and button snaps, but nonetheless the glitterati of the artisan food world applauded these winners in one of the hotbeds of food chic that is the Ferry Building.

The queen bee herself, Alice Waters stepped to the mike to provide the ultimate honor for these winners.  She discussed the simple fact that we were celebrating the efforts from 26 states in the country, an encouraging reality of progressive food diversity, and that it is vital to “re-imagine and reinvigorate” food on a national level.   She also pointed out that “these awards are valuing excellence” and they can serve as a tool to educate us about what products go beyond only taste, capturing a “purity of providence” to fully showcase good, clean, and fair.  “It’s a beautiful thing that we can spread the word about goodness,” she concluded, when we are so used to hearing bad news about our broken food system.

The evening was followed by several sincere and heartfelt speeches, reminding us all why we care about good food the way we do.  The bevy of presenters also helped articulate how these chosen producers have acted as stewards by dedicating their lives to taking the road less traveled in a genuine way, creating products that are not only savored in flavor, but that promote social and environmental responsibility as well.

After raising our glasses of Macintosh hard cider, we descended upon the halls of the Ferry Building to taste the actual winning goods, the first of many events in which these foods and their artisan methods are being highlighted throughout Good Food Month.  The following day, the Good Food Marketplace provided the chosen finalists an opportunity to reach a broader audience by selling their products at the Saturday morning farmers market, a bustling celebration of all Good things.

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For an insider take on the festivities, Executive Director Sarah Weiner posted her thoughts here.

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Amber Turpin is a freelance food and travel writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A long time Good Food advocate, she has owned, operated and helped launch several food businesses. She is a regular contributor to Civil Eats, various Edible magazines, and the San Jose Mercury News. Read more >

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  1. C.Lewis
    Interesting. Does anyone ever wonder of any potential consequences of "celebritizing" food and food producers? Or is this what we have to do in order to compete with big agriculture and mass food marketing campaigns? I think it is a great thing to celebrate the people who are involved in this important word,but somehow I also am weary (yet not quite sure why...perhaps it is only jealousy to be more involved in that exciting new food culture myself). Thoughts anyone else?

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