The natural and organic sector enjoyed several wins at The BBC Food & Farming Awards on 20 September, with Hodmedod, Unicorn Grocery and Patrick Holden all walking away with accolades.
The BBC Food & Farming Awards originally launched in 2000 as a way of recognizing and honouring those in the industry who had ‘done most to promote the cause of good food’. This year’s line up of winners included some noteworthy industry trailblazers according to Sheila Dillon, BBC Radio 4 presenter and awards judge: “We were looking for people who not only worked in food but changed society through food, and we saw it this year.” Dillon identified ‘real global potential’ amongst the winners, each of whom brought ideas to the industry that can be ‘replicated in other countries’ and can ‘make a difference to the whole food system’.
Amongst the 2017 winners was Hodmedod, which beat thousands of entries from bakers, farmers, cheese makers and chocolate makers to win the coveted Best Food Producer award for its British-grown quinoa, peas, beans and lentils. Nick Saltmarsh, one of Hodmedod’s three co-founders said: “We’re over the moon to have won Best Food Producer … It’s a fantastic recognition of everything we and our farmers have been doing over the last five years to get more pulses and grains growing on British farms and into British kitchens – and a great boost to do more!”
“It’s a fantastic recognition of everything we and our farmers have been doing over the last five years”
Co-founders Josiah Meldrum and William Hudson added that they felt ‘elated’ and remained committed to getting ‘the right amount’ returned to the farmers in order that they make a fair living. “We want to change farming,” said Hudson.
Also picking up an award during the ceremony in Bristol was Patrick Holden CBE, who took home the Derek Cooper Outstanding Achievement Award. Speaking to the BBC, Holden said: “I’m a bit shocked by the whole thing. I don’t feel as if it’s me, I don’t feel any of the work is personal; it’s a calling to transform the food system.”
Best Food Retailer went to Unicorn Grocery, the Manchester-based workers’ cooperative, which took to social media the following day to thank its loyal customers for the nomination.
“The impact that these people can have in the future will be enormous”
“These are all people who work away doing extraordinarily high quality work. They do it because they care about it. There’s a lot in the world to make you feel cynical and tonight’s a kind of antidote to cynicism,” said Dillon.
Fellow judge and chef Giorgio Locatelli added: “These awards never seem to be the same as the other awards around. It was just such an incredible experience, truly outstanding. The impact that these people can have in the future will be enormous. These stories have the potential to inspire children in school today to think ‘I want to become a farmer’. We’ve spent hundreds of years detaching ourselves from food and farming and the winners of these awards are evidence that we’re starting to remake that connection. For them, it’s not just about making a profit – it’s their passion, about what they see and taste and what they believe can change. That is very, very important.”