The Good Food Awards, held in San Francisco each year and put on by Seedling Projects, is a gathering of some of the nation’s most delicious and authentic food producers who generously share their wares. Judging across a wide range of categories – beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, oils, pickles, preserves and spirits – the awards honor producers around the country who meet specific criteria based on an extensive set of principles put together by The Good Food Awards Committee including:
• Tasty: delicious food, bringing joy to those who consume it;
• Authentic: no artificial ingredients; an expression of tradition and culture; seasonality and locality;
• Responsible: respect and fair compensation within the production chain; ingredients are GMO free; promote healthy soil and biodiversity; use local ingredients; promote water and resource conservation and recycling; practice transparency and honesty with consumers; have direct, face-to-face communication between growers, food crafters and everyone else in the production chain; practice good animal husbandry
A mecca for food lovers and a crystal ball to industry followers, the Good Food Awards marketplace provides an opportunity for the public to taste and purchase the judge’s favorites and mingle with the food and drink producers. A cornucopia of brown butter chocolate, salami cotto, blood orange-lavender preserves, farmstead cheese, Delicata squash seed oil, and pickled sea beans eagerly tempted hundreds of passersby.
Aside from taking note of the ever-growing flavor, ingredient and application trends like fermentation (Firefly Kimchi, Firefly Kitchens), regional spices (LaLa Sauce, a Mandarin spicy black bean and roasted red pepper sauce, Baba’s Cooking School), specialty oils (Black Walnut Oil, Hammons Black Walnuts), and sea-salted sweets (Sea Salt Hazelnut Crunch Bar, Alma Chocolates), perhaps the most evident trend was the changed behavior of the everyday consumer.
The once unfamiliar and unusual now appear to be more commonplace for the average marketplace-goer. Attendees were fully engaged, asking detailed questions about production processes, and producer principles, preferences and politics. Professionals once considered to be out of sight were shining in the spotlight with a bit of celebrity. In fact, as if to underscore this newly found attention, a film crew was present shooting a documentary on artisan American cheese makers.
It was interesting to hear, see and taste the current changes and trends in the food industry, and to see such a large group of people so enthusiastic about new and delicious food. The Good Food Awards is just one of many windows into the ins and outs of the food industry, and into the nooks and crannies of the consumer mind. Here’s to eating – and learning – our way through 2014!
What are some of the new trends you see in your part of the world? Tell us in the comments!