(Photo credit: Leslie Santarina)
Wow, the Good Food Awards is ten years old. I remember that first discussion on the concept with founders Sarah Weiner and Dominic Philips. How could they highlight packaged foods doing their best to keep quality high, pay employees fairly, and use the finest ingredients possible?
Sarah and Dominic brought in Noise 13 to help with branding, and I’ve been a huge supporter ever since. In its tenth year, the GFA has grown from seven categories to seventeen, from a few judges to three hundred, and from tens of entries to thousands nationwide. It is no longer just awards to highlight those doing the best for sustainable, good tasting food, it is also a Foundation, Merchants Association, and many other initiatives. I am thrilled to see how much progress the team has made to support, highlight, and grow small food businesses.
I’ve been a judge for the Awards since the inaugural event where I was a stand-in judge for the beer category. Spitting out the beer is NOT allowed, as part of the flavor is on the back of the tongue. By noon I was both buzzed and forever hooked on judging.
From beer, I moved on to the charcuterie and pickles – savory categories are my forte. I still remember some of my favorites like radicchio jam, pickled cauliflower, lamb prosciutto, and salami with pine needles. I have been in the pantry category for the last few years but still, bounce back to visit friends in the pickles and charcuterie categories.
The pantry category is very interesting as this is the category with the largest variety. We taste everything from mayo and ketchup to nut butters, gee, cooking sauces, hot sauce, vinegar, and maple syrup. This year I fell in love with a blackberry vinegar that I ended up drinking like a shrub with soda water, as well as a kimchi chili oil, a rye barrel-aged maple syrup, and a hemp seed almond butter. At least there is no palette fatigue.
Tasting and judging the food is a great perk, but it is the people that truly make this special. This community, from the GFA team to the category volunteers, to the judges, are some of the most passionate people I know. Not only about the food we are tasting, but how the food system works. There are food makers, press, parts of the supply chain, food merchants, farmers, etc. All these people care so much about what we eat that they are willing to spend more time, more money and more support to make your food world better. I get chills just thinking about all those people coming together every year and volunteering their time. It’s like the best family reunion ever.
You would do yourself a favor and look for the super cute (yes I’m biased) Good Food Award logo on foods in your local organic grocery. Not only are these foods delicious, but it also means that you are supporting brands who take care of what they put into the product, as well as how they treat their supply chain. You can read more about the rules for entering the awards here. At Noise 13, we recommend all our packaged food and beverage clients check out the guidelines for entry. Even if your product does not yet make the grade, there are resources and support to help you get there.
I want to thank all the amazing people who come together to make the GFA happen. I love being a part of this community. Noise 13 was built on food and beverage brands for sure as this is one of my passions. But personally, I also just love knowing that all these people are making the food system better every day. Congratulations to the Good Food team on ten years. I can’t wait to see you again next year.