Sarah Weiner has dedicated her career to good food. Fresh out of college, she took a job as the Director of Communications for Slow Food International, moving to Italy and fully immersing herself in the historic foodways of Europe. A few years later she decamped to the Bay Area, and soon found herself working alongside none other than Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, farm-to-table godmother, and perhaps the most influential American chef of her generation. Her multifaceted role with Alice gave Sarah a front row seat to the expanding organic food movement taking hold on the west coast, inspiring her to spearhead and produce the first large-scale sustainable food conference in the US: Slow Food Nation. Inspired by the overwhelming response–Slow Food Nation recorded over 85,000 attendees–Sarah co-founded the nonprofit Seedlings Project, a “do tank” focused on turning ideas into action with offices on both coasts.
In Washington, DC, Seedlings Project launched our capital's first integrated garden, classroom and cafeteria project in a public school while simultaneously, in San Francisco, they developed the first annual Good Food Awards, a smashing success that quickly grew to over 2000 entrants from all 50 states. Sarah quickly saw there was a need to support the hundreds of farmers, food crafters, and grocers coalescing around the Awards, and over the next several years a handful of more focused programs were established: the Good Food Guild, a network of food producers and farmers; the Good Food Merchants Alliance, for independent grocers committed to upholding the values of the Foundation; the Good Food Mercantile, an industry-only trade show for emerging brands; and the Good Food Fund, which provides financial support to ongoing projects aimed at improving issues of equity, access, and ownership in the packaged food space. In 2016, Seedlings Project officially changed their name to the Good Food Foundation to better reflect their commitment to these core programs.
After a decade of success in San Francisco, Sarah and Good Food officially moved to Portland in 2022. Last spring, the Good Food Mercantile drew scores of food professionals to the Rose City for a weekend of eating, hanging out and celebrating the independent food producers and grocers that keep our cupboards full of delicious stuff. This year marks the first time that Portland will host all of the Foundation’s key events, including the 2023 Good Food Awards ceremony, and we couldn’t be more excited to show off our city’s unparalleled network of food producers. After all, Portland is home to dozens of previous winners, and this year several hometown companies on the ballot as finalists. After several challenging years for the food industry at large, it feels great to have something to celebrate.
Photos via @goodfoodfdn