The second annual Good Food Awards is happening this weekend, a Whole Foods funded celebration of all that is good and true in the consumption of “organic” foodstuffs. Sounds great? Well, if you didn’t follow the events of last year’s GFAs, the whole thing turned out to be a big effing pain in the a. Rules were bent, a shape-shifting notion of organic ruled over all, and a bunch of quality roasters were disqualified. This year’s competition is looking to be just as contentious, as the rules are being changed mid-game again. According to several inside sources, the GFA’s organizers are requiring WAY more documentation than originally indicated in the submission rules. One source speaking to Sprudge on condition of anonymity quipped. “It’s as though they want me to fly the farmer in from Ethiopia so we can all shake hands.”
It should be noted that coffee is the only category in the GFA to require rigid organic certification. Preserves, pickles, beer, cheese, charcuterie and even chocolate (coffee’s low-down kissin’ cousin) do not require organic labels. It’s also worth noting that, unlike all of these other consumables (save for chocolate), coffee is a massively international pursuit – organic certification at origin is not simply a matter of driving down to the dairy farm in Petaluma and making sure the cows look happy. The GFA does not require roaster organic certification, which is necessary for coffee companies to affix an organic label to their products, but DOES require the producer to be “certified”. This distinction is notable as the steps and requirements for a producer to be certified are vastly more troublesome than the steps a roaster stateside must take for a similar certification. Why one and not the other?
According to reliable sources, several prominent roasters simply won’t be participating in this year’s GFAs. These roasters include Stumptown Coffee, Four Barrel and Ritual.