Organic Articles: Deluxe and Delightful

The Organic Consultancy

Deluxe and Delightful

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the November 2002 edition of Organic Business.

To Bristol for the annual orgy of bacchanalia and foodie over-indulgence that is judging the Soil Association Food Awards. Held this year at the excellent new dockside education centre @Bristol, the Organic Food Award judging managed to be both great fun, highly educational and a good barometer on where the parameters of organic food quality currently lie.

Careful planning meant that I only had to do two categories, non-alcoholic drinks and Convenience foods. The former was a breeze a couple of dozen tempting bottles, identity hidden behind impenetrable black tape, from which I and my fellow judges took dainty sips and rapidly agreed on a short list of serious contenders. From here it was straightforward to agree on a winner, plus the Highly Commended and Commended entries. They proved to be a worthy bunch – full details on October 18th when all Organic Food Award winners are announced over lunch at the Dorchester.

My spirits remained high throughout a light lunch cooked by the redoubtable Barney Haughton using the delicious vegetables from the Best Box Scheme category. My enthusiasm took a bit of a knock when I discovered there were 63 entries in the Convenience food category. It fell even further when we started sampling. We tasted products that ran the full spectrum from poor to indifferent. Luckily we were able to agree on a winner, which stood out in the category as a simple idea done well.

I know that this year Dom Lane and the rest of the organising team have worked tirelessly to encourage suppliers to only enter their very best products. What I found frustrating is that in both of the categories I judged I know of products that tasted better than those we tried. Why don’t manufacturers enter their best products ? It’s free (for the first 3 entries) and it is a golden opportunity to showcase just how good organic products can taste.

When I go shopping I look for the Award signs on-pack and this influences my purchasing decisions. So an open message to organic suppliers, manufacturers, importers and producers. Next year make sure you enter your three very best products. That way if I end up having to work my way through another 63 entries I should at least end up with a better class of indigestion.