The Good Food Foundation's approach to sustainability

This post is a Q&A with Katherine Harris, Merchants & Communications Manager at the Good Food Foundation.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I work at the intersections of sustainability and food as a marketing project manager. I previously worked at an independent retailer in the Wine Country that was a truly delightful place to eat, shop, gather and learn, and now work to shine a light on up-and-coming food producers and independent grocers are doing to create a more sustainable food future.

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  1. Tell us about the Good Food Awards. Why did you decide to put this together?

    The Good Food Awards is the nation's first recognition program for makers in 18 categories (like cheese, pickles, and spirits) to be applauded for excellence in taste and sustainability.

    It came together 12 years ago after Slow Food Nation, North America's largest ever sustainable food event, brought together makers across different categories like charcuterie and chocolate who hadn't previously been united by mutually shared values.

  2. What informed your approach to creating Good Food Awards? Why an award ceremony? Why food?

    The Good Food Foundation (the nonprofit behind the Good Food Awards) was originally started as a "do" tank for the food movement, called Seedling Projects. Over the years, as the organization continued to develop more relationships with industry experts, makers and buyers, it became apparent that there is so much more work to be done, so the Good Food Awards adds a new category annually to continue collaborations, community and conversation.

    We host an Awards Ceremony every January to give folks a chance to dress up and toast to the incredible work they're doing to buy from local farmers, keep synthetic inputs out of our waterways and pursue ingredients and practices that are regenerative.

  3. Many people see sustainability as a trade-off with profit. I can imagine this is a significant part of encouraging people to shop small and local when it comes to food. What have you observed?

    At the Good Food Awards, we don't filter out for business size. If there is a $100 million company that is doing great work, we want to give them as much of a chance to be recognized as a company that is just selling at a local farmers' market. We've similarly seen grocery store buyers from both national chains and one-off independent shops show up at our trade shows. What people are looking for is the differentiating characteristics – whether that means plant-based cheeses or BIPOC-owned brands – and we've observed that the pool of folks who apply, win and participate in our events have so many incredible stories to tell and share.
  1. Can an award show solve climate change? How do you see your role in the bigger problem of climate change, food justice, and income inequality?

    We're addressing climate change through the in-depth sustainability criteria that all Winners and members of the Good Food Guild must meet.

    In terms of addressing food justice, in collaboration with an Equity Task Force, we developed new criteria that all Winners and members of the Guild must meet in order to be part of the Good Food community:

    Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, committed to equity and inclusion in all levels of their business, as exemplified through integrating these practices:

    - Offering a diversity, equity, and inclusion training to staff members and/or leadership annually.
    - Thoughtfully acknowledging the heritage of culturally-specific food on websites, packaging and/or marketing materials.
    - For the small percentage of Good Food community that operates on a significantly larger scale, meeting additional criteria related to board diversity, maternity leave and employment practices.

    And lastly, in terms of income inequality, earlier this week we published a list of resources here for food and drink crafters around networking, accelerators and grants.

  2. Other than Good Food Awards, what are some of your favorite tools and resources for fighting climate change?

    Shopping local at one of the members of the Good Food Merchants Alliance is a great step to fight climate change.

  3. What is one thing you wish more people understood about the movement for a more sustainable future?

    That sustainability can also be delicious. 🙂

  4. Any advice for people who are new to the fight against climate change or aren't sure what their place is?

    Start in your neighborhood. The scale of it all can be overwhelming, but if you think about something like buying coffee beans from your favorite spot and brewing a cup at home versus getting one to go in a paper cup, that's a great start.

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

💌 Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 4,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter." - Meghan Mehta, Google