These days, it's no secret that more and more Americans are in search of healthy, local, and responsibly sourced and produced foods. Luckily, we also have a growing movement of people who want to create those foods.
To honor those working to create a better food supply chain, the Good Food Awards -- a project created by the California-based nonprofit Seedling Projects -- was organized to grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.
In its fifth year, the Good Food Awards will be naming its selections for winners in 11 categories, including beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil and our newest category, honey. Awards are given to producers and their food communities from each of five regions of the country, and of the 206 finalists for 2015 hailing from 46 states, several are from right here in Florida.
The finalists emerged from a one-day marathon judging session September 7 in San Francisco where 180 chefs, retailers, food writers, farmers, and food crafters sampled entries from the 11 categories, which includes new subcategories for cider, kombucha, yogurt, cocktail modifiers and preserved fish. The top taste scorers were further vetted to confirm environmentally sound agriculture, good animal husbandry, transparency, and fair treatment at all stages of the supply chain.
"It was not easy to make it onto this list," says Sarah Weiner, co-founder and executive director of Seedling Projects, the non-profit behind the Good Food Awards. "The quality of entries increases every year, and even amongst the highest scoring, nearly two dozen entries didn't quite meet the high bar we set for sustainability. The 2015 Finalists are truly the leaders in their fields, epitomizing taste, authenticity and responsible production."
This year, there were 1,462 entries -- the highest number the Good Food Awards has seen yet. Of the entrants, Florida companies include:
Panther Coffee Roasters
Miami-based Panther Coffee received distinction in two categories, including its Kenya Kirura roasted coffee roast and its Cacao Art Chocolates for confections.
Buddy Brew Coffee
Buddy Brew Coffee from Tampa was chosen for its Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aylele coffee roast.
Sapore Della Vita
The Sarasota-based company that creates Italian imported confections, Sapore Della Vita, was selected for its caramel sauce.
The Royale Gourmet Co.
The Royale Gourmet Co. in Pembroke Pines was selected for its mango marmalade.
From these finalists, 150 Good Food Award winners will be announced on January 8, at a gala in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Awards will be given by Alice Waters, who helped to launch the Good Food Awards five years ago; she is owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, a restaurant famous for its organic, locally grown ingredients and for pioneering California cuisine.
The final awards ceremony will take place January 8, followed by the new Good Food Mercantile on January 9, the nation's first trade show where past and present winners and finalists will have the opportunity to exhibit their wares to an anticipated 350 industry buyers.
To purchase tickets or learn more about the awards ceremony and the Good Food Awards Marketplace, get details at goodfoodawards.org.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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