Leaders in “Good Food” Recognized at 7th Annual Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection

barbara-eiswerth-iskashitaa-accepts-feeding-the-community-award Hosted by Good Food Finder, a program of the Local First Arizona Foundation, and presented by Bite Magazine, the AZ Made Awards recognizes excellence in food, drink, and crafted products made in Arizona. The awards celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship, while inspiring Arizonans to support the local movement and connect with people and projects in the community.


The inaugural AZ Made Awards were held at the 7th Annual Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection on Monday, September 12, in Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection brought together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level and introduces them to wholesale food buyers at restaurants, hotels, etc. from across the state, with the goal of introducing more local foods to store shelves and kitchen tables across the state. Following the main event of the vendor fair, an awards reception was held where the winners were announced.


“We’re incredibly honored to launch the inaugural AZ Made Awards program at this year’s Farmer+Chef Connection,” says Michelle Jacoby, Publisher of Bite Magazine. “FCC embodies the spirit of our new awards program, which recognizes excellence in food, drink and crafted products made in Arizona. We’re looking forward to making this a regular part of the Farmer+Chef Connection, and continue to honor those committed to elevating the state’s food culture and community.”


An online nomination process was held for each of the five award categories, and dozens of submissions were received. Winners were selected in each category based on votes from a panel of industry experts organized by Bite Magazine. The winners of the 2016 AZ Made Awards are:


Good Food, Good Person Award: Recognizing a farmer or artisan growing, raising or making tasty, nourishing, healthy for the mind–and perhaps the body–food. This person sees food as a way to communicate and create community. This person displays characteristics of graciousness and grit, humility, leadership, and the ability to mentor.

Winner: Terry Button of Ramona’s American Indian Foods


Leveraging Your Localness Award: Recognizing a farmer, food producer, or food buyer/distributor demonstrating knowledge of and connections to other businesses within Arizona and have the books to prove it. It is evident that this person and the business are putting their money where their mouth is and has become exemplary in setting the standard for local procurement and local involvement.

Winner: Don Guerra of Barrio Bread


Environmental Sustainability Award: Recognizing a farmer or food producer holding yourself to the highest of excellence in care for our world and therefore a more sustainable food system for all. Whether it’s animal and land stewardship, water conservation practices, solar energy use, polycultural farming practices, native and heritage food use, seed-saving practices or all or some of it, this person is doing their part and it shows. Winner: Jonathan Netzky of Tepa Burger/Local Alternative Inc.


Young Food Leader Award: Recognizing a beginning farmer or food producer, and a pioneer in the field. This person is paving the way for others, demonstrating innovation and tradition at the same time. As a young entrepreneur, this person constantly thinking creatively, asking why and why not. This person holds high regard for a sustainable and just food system, and leverage others to make an effort toward one.

Winner: Lu Mallet of Whipstone Farm


Feeding the Community Award: Recognizing a farmer, food producer, or food buyer/distributor exhibiting a tremendous ability to reach large, often underserved or underrepresented, groups of people with high-quality, fresh, and often locally-sourced food in order to reach broader audiences and support a localized, sustainable food system that benefits everyone.

Winner: Iskashitaa Refugee Network


“We’re incredibly proud of the work being done across the state to increase access to and promote healthy local foods,” said Kimber Lanning, Founder and Director of the Local First Arizona Foundation. “Each of the AZ Made Awards winners exemplifies a critical component of our statewide local food system, from collecting food from the community that would otherwise be wasted to revitalizing native and heritage grains, and beyond.”


The winners of each category will receive a feature spread on Bite Magazine’s website with corresponding promotions on Good Food Finder’s e-newsletters Good Food News and The Locavore, and a commemorative plaque generously provided by the team at Accurate Signs and Engraving.


Good Food Finder and the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection are programs of the Local First Arizona Foundation’s Healthy Local Foods Initiative. Learn more at localfirstazfoundation.org.