Organic Food Awards

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Not many leftovers left…

I enjoyed a brief escape from the heat of the field this morning, to be a judge at the Soil Association’s Organic Food Awards at the lovely organic Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington. The category I was given was confectionary, biscuits & desserts (what a bummer eh?), so I sampled some yummy organic treats, from meringues and rice pudding, through moist treacle tarts and chocolate bars, to fruity children’s sweets and mince pies (very seasonal!). It was pretty hard to judge such a varied array, but between us we selected some really lovely things for gold awards, and to go forward for category winners.

IMG-20130718-00496Some sub-categories had a surprisingly small number of entrants, which was a real shame, as we knew of many great organic desserts and treats which could have entered. I wonder if seeing a form and small entrance fee (I think just £20 to enter), plus arranging for products to be delivered or couriered (especially chilled and/or larger produce), puts smaller artisan producers off, especially if they have tiny admin teams (ie one person does everything).  It’s difficult to know what else to suggest to encourage more entrants – perhaps a small fund could be set-aside for micro-producers to cover the entrance fee, and put together a simple entrance form for them? Often though it seems that it’s not the actual money, it’s the hassle when you’re resource-poor, as your time is so valuable and there are so many other things to think about; perhaps admin help could be offered to businesses with five or less employees for example?

I wonder if the winners of each category (and also all the gold award winners) could also ‘win’ something more immediate and tangible, other than prestige; such as a slot in their local supermarket for Organic Fortnight in September if production numbers would allow (Waitrose might be keen on something like this)? Or a free stall at the Bristol Harbourside market, with some marketing materials and PR help to go with it? Food for thought…

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