Farmers and producers: take note! The Natural Resources Defense Council has announced its groundbreaking annual Growing Green Awards, honoring those who work to strengthen our national food system. In the year since I was honored with the 2009 Growing Green Business Leader Award, food has been given a prominent place on the national agenda -- in a way that I only could have dreamed of when I encouraged our chefs to start sourcing direct from small owner-operated farms more than 10 years ago.
Among the highlights of the year: A vegetable garden was planted on the White House Lawn to promote the benefits of local, seasonal food; First Lady Michelle Obama loudly endorsed an urgent focus to bring fresh food into national school lunch programs; a TIME Magazine cover article decried the high cost of cheap food for human and environmental health; a student garden movement bloomed to help young farmers hit pay dirt on college campuses, tomato pickers in Florida began winning their quest for fair wages and treatment with dignity -- and just last week, a revoking of the industry-driven Smart Choices label which endorsed high sugar foods as healthy proved that Coco Puffs do not belong on a healthy breakfast menu. I could go on and on. What an encouraging year it has been for advocates of sustainable food!
The Growing Green Awards for 2010 was announced just last week, and I expect the nominations will begin pouring in immediately. The Growing Green Awards recognize the extraordinary contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork. NRDC has asked me and all of us at Bon Appétit to spread the word to farmers and farmer partners, encouraging them to nominate candidates for this year's award.
If you know an outstanding individual in any of the four categories, including Food Producer, Business Leader, Thought Leader, and Water Steward, I strongly urge you to nominate that person. The application process is thorough and will take some of your time. With a $10,000 cash prize awarded in the Food Producer category and all winners widely celebrated through outreach to media and NRDC's networks, it's worth reaching out to your network of food system leaders to apply. Next year, Bon Appétit predicts that we'll see even more progress towards sustainable, socially responsible food systems.
More on the Growing Green Awards: http://www.nrdc.org/health/growinggreen.asp
Bon Appetit Management Co.
2009 Growing Green Awards Business Leader Winner