The Good Food Awards oil category recognizes America’s tastiest fruit, nut and seed oils from pioneering producers who hold to the highest standards of quality and sustainability. Whether from olives, hazelnuts or squash seeds, Good oil is pressed and bottled without the use of added heat, chemical extractors, artificial additives or genetically modified ingredients.
The Good Food Awards rely on the expertise of the oil community to create the tasting, determine judges and set standards for the category. Read on to learn who has been integral to building the category, as well as what the oil standard are and who will be judging this year.
President of Strictly Olive Oil
Nancy Ash is an olive oil expert and as the President of Strictly Olive Oil consults with domestic and foreign producers on quality and marketing matters. With an extensive background in specialty foods sales, Nancy began working with California olive oil producers in 1996 and over the years has served in numerous roles with the California Olive Oil Council where she is currently a Taste Panel Leader. An original member of the COOC Taste Panel, the first in North America to achieve recognition from the International Olive Oil Council, Nancy earned her certification as a Taste Panel Supervisor (Leader) from the Organizzazione Nazoinale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva in Imperia, Italy in December 2005, and received the COOC Pioneer Award in 2011 for her work in sensory education. While Nancy enjoys teaching olive oil tasting classes and judging competitions, mostly she loves sitting down to a good meal.
Specialty Food Buyer/Educator
Linda Sikorski is a specialty foods educator and buyer who recently retired from Market Hall Foods (formerly The Pasta Shop) where she served as the senior specialty food buyer. Linda managed hundreds of products, including a carefully curated, international selection of high-quality extra virgin olive oils. Under Linda’s direction, The California Olive Oil Council gave The Pasta Shop its debut Retailer Recognition Award. Linda chaired the Specialty Food Association Retailer Network and has served on the Board of Directors of the California Olive Oil Council and The San Francisco Professional Food Society.
Founder of Klugman & Associates
Roberta Klugman, Klugman & Associates, provides strategic communications for the food and wine industries. Previously, Klugman served as executive director of The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), where she produced programs such as “Resetting the American Table” and several annual Conferences on Gastronomy. She has served as a board member of the California Olive Oil Council, and received its 2017 Pioneer Award. A member of Les Dames D’Escoffier and a past president of the San Francisco Professional Food Society, she serves on the advisory boards for Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) and Communities Adolescents Nutrition Fitness (CANFIT). She has been championing olive oil for over 30 years!
In order to be eligible for a Good Food Award, oil entries must meet the following standards:
- Made in the USA or US territories.
- Made with olives, avocados, nuts or seeds.
- Pressed from ingredients from the most recent harvest and grown in the region of entry.
- Free of genetically modified ingredients.
- Free of artificial ingredients, including colors, flavors or preservatives.
- Use ingredients grown using fair labor practices.
- Use ingredients grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.*
- Oil comes from a first crushing or milling and is not subjected to added heat or chemical extractors throughout the entire process.
- The entry is not a third party private label oil, where finished oil from another source has been purchased and rebranded.
- Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, committed to equity and inclusion in all levels of their business,** as exemplified through integrating these practices:
- Offering a diversity, equity, and inclusion training to staff members and/or leadership annually.
- Thoughtfully acknowledging the heritage of culturally-specific food on websites, packaging and/or marketing materials.
- For the small percentage of Good Food community that operates on a significantly larger scale, meeting additional criteria related to board diversity, maternity leave and employment practices.**
Additional criteria for olive oil:
- Growers must demonstrate an effort to use sustainable practices in water conservation and waste management.
- Non-flavored olive oils are certified as extra virgin by a COOC- or IOC-recognized panel.***
Additional criteria for flavored oil:
- Base oil must meet all above criteria except the extra virgin certification requirement for olive oils.
- Added flavor ingredients, including but not limited to spices, herbs and fruit, must be domestically sourced and meet the above criteria related to sustainable growing techniques and fair labor practices. The flavoring agent can’t come from the infusion of an extract or essential oil.
- Flavor must come from co-milling the actual flavor ingredient with the olives or by steeping all the ingredients together with the oil.
*Oils made with avocados, nuts or seeds grown with minimal synthetic inputs using Integrated Pest management practices will be permitted.
**Check if you are in the 2% of companies meeting the Good Food Foundation definition of large scale, and review the addition criteria on the Rules & Regulations page.
***California Olive Oil Council or International Olive Council
Additionally, oil entries must fit within one of the following subcategories:
- Olive Oil
- Nut Oil
- Seed Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Flavored Oil
June 1-30: Oils entries open for 2023 Good Food Awards.
Early spring 2023: Oils entries re-opened for 2023 Good Food Awards; shipping instructions sent to all Oils entrants.
Spring 2023: Oils Blind Tasting.
Late spring 2023: Vetting.
Early summer 2023: 2023 Oils Finalists and Winners are announced.
Owner, The Quail&Olive
Owner/President, Cooking with Rosetta
Conventional/Specialty Grocery Buyer, Oliver’s Market
Senior Content Editor, Yummly
Publisher/Editor, Edible East Bay
Founder, Olive Love
Author, Dessert Chef & Chocolatier, Self Employed
General Manager, We Olive
Corporate Chef, Mani Imports
Chief Enabler, Morningstar Artisan Foods