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.
Operations Manager at California Olive Oil Council
Max Kirwin has been with the California Olive Oil Council as the Operations Manager since 2018, overseeing the non-profit’s Seal Certification Program, a quality assurance program for the association’s membership. Jumping from one coast to the other in 2015, Max seized an opportunity to become part of the opening team at We Olive & Wine Bar Los Gatos, a hybrid wine bar-specialty food store. Having a passion for the world of food, and how it influences people, their overall well being and their relationships with others, Max inherently became an advocate for the natural benefits of high quality, extra virgin olive oil. Through his role with We Olive, Max completed a 10-month internship with the COOC in his pursuit to discover as much about the California olive oil industry as he could. Not only does he hope to further foster the mission of the COOC through his role as co-chair for the oils category at GFA but, Max also looks forward to endorsing the vision of Good Food and all participating organizations.
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
April 14-18: Good Food Awards Entry Period re-opened for Oils category.
April 21: Shipping instructions sent to all Oils entrants, from July 2020 and April 2021.
May 3-5: Product is received for an Oils-only Blind Tasting.
May 15: Oils Blind Tasting.
May 19: All Oils entrants will be notified as to their status following the tasting.
July 7: 2021 Oils Finalists and Winners are announced.
January 2022: Good Food Awards Weekend.
Taste Panel Leader, COOC
Tasting Room Director, Royal Coffee
Olive Oil Production Consultant, McEvoy Ranch
Publisher, Edible East Bay
E-commerce Manager, Market Hall Foods
Chief Enabler, Morningstar Artisan Foods
Owner, Tallgrass Ranch
Food Editor-at-Large, The Kitchn
President, Strictly Olive Oil