Overrun by Good Food
The HUB’s Stealthy Role in the Food Movement
By Sarah Weiner, Founder of the Good Food Awards
One magical Monday each September, Hub members arrived at 901 Mission Street and realize something is different. Is that the faint smell of chocolate in the Gallery? Blue cheese in the entryway? Whiskey upstairs? Open the fridge, and suspicions are confirmed: the Good Food Awards has been here!
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to kick off a month of focus on food at the HUB, and share what a critical role the HUB has played in launching and incubating the Good Food Awards, and in the process generating $4 million a year for 150 small, sustainable food businesses around the country. Six years ago, when the HUB was just opening and the Good Food Awards was still an idea, Tim Nichols and I got to talking. The more I shared about what we were up to, the more emphatic he was that it was the perfect fit for the HUB, offering his unwavering support to get it off the ground. With the generous offer to donate the 20,000 sq ft space for a full weekend, the annual Good Food Awards Blind Tasting was born.
For one day each year, Seedling Projects (the not-for-profit behind the Good Food Awards) gathers 200 judges within every nook and cranny of the HUB to taste through nearly 2,000 entries of responsibly made, superbly delicious; roasted, brewed, pickled and distilled food and drink from all 50 states. The roster of past judges have included everyone from Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, to Tartine co-owner Liz Prueitt, to Wall Street Journal “Slow Food, Fast” columnist Kitty Greenwald, to brewing legend Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery. At the end of the day we have a list of the best tasting cider, confections, chocolate and more in the country.
It takes six weeks of reviewing the top scoring entrants to ensure the sustainability and social responsibility criteria found on the Good Food Awards website have been met by each high scorer. Every year a few dozen are disqualified, and those that squarely meet the criteria are announced as the Good Food Awards Finalists: the top five scorers from each region of the country for each type of food. (This year’s 263 Finalists are being made public tomorrow. Check out the list here.) The Winners are announced in a gala Awards Ceremony with 800 food crafters, media and thought leaders (and a few public tickets available too, here), followed by a one day Marketplace at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.
More than a celebration, the Good Food Awards was created to give truly good food businesses a leg up. A soap box from which a husband and wife organic farmer and jam maker, in the heart of Ohio’s Big Ag, can talk about what they do and why – as Ann and Dan Trudell of Ann’s Raspberry Farm did, when they gave a speech about sustainable agriculture upon being honored in Ohio’s Congress for winning a Good Food Award. A way to attract dozens new wholesale accounts – as it did for upstate New York chocolate makers Brian and Dahlia Grissman, whose inquiries tripled within a few months of being announced as a Good Food Award Winner. A way to distinguish themselves as not only tasty, but truly thoughtful and triple-bottom-line oriented by using the distinct blue Good Food Awards seal on jars and bottles, which you will find in a special display at Bi-Rite Market in late January. It’s about supporting food producers all over the country in building viable businesses, respected leaders in their field and models of how it is possible to succeed as craftsmen and women – entrepreneurs and social agents of change – paying fairly, sourcing well and growing thoughtfully. We (and this year’s 263 Good Food Awards Finalists and 500 past winners) owe a debt of gratitude to the HUB for helping to launch this project, and we look forward to steadily growing together with you for many years to come.