NRDC Announces Three Winners of the First-Ever "Growing Green Awards"

Award recognizes leaders and innovators in the field of sustainable food

San Francisco, CA (May 6, 2009) – Three winners of the first-ever Growing Green Awards were announced today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The winners are: Will Allen of Growing Power, Fedele Bauccio of Bon Appétit Management Company and James Harvie of Institute for a Sustainable Future, in the categories of Food Producer, Business Leader and Thought Leader, respectively. A $10,000 cash prize will be awarded to Will Allen for his achievements in sustainable food production.

“The extraordinary contributions of these individuals are making a difference for how people produce, consume and think about food and our natural environment,” said Michael Pollan, best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and chair of the award selection panel. “We’re delighted that Will Allen, Fedele Bauccio and James Harvie are the winners of the first-ever Growing Green Awards.”

An independent panel of sustainable food experts selected the three winners from a pool of 140 impressive candidates that included diverse growers, entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country.

Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, won in the Food Producer category for his innovative urban farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that integrates year-round urban aquaculture and vegetable production. Waste from the fish is used to fertilize the plants, which in turn filter the water so it can be returned to the fish – both eliminating the need to add fertilizers or release polluted waste-water. The farm provides fresh fish, produce and jobs to an underserved community, in addition to training and outreach through on-farm classes and lectures.

“People should have access to healthy, affordable food regardless of their economic situation. Growing Power’s goal is to dismantle injustice and discrimination in the food system in order to build equitable and sustainable communities.” said Allen. “It is an honor to receive this award for the work that I love to do.”

Business Leader winner Fedele Bauccio, CEO and Founder of Bon Appétit Management Company, has been a pioneer in addressing the connection between food and climate change through Bon Appétit’s Low Carbon Diet initiative, which is on track to reduce its associated carbon emissions by 25 percent from 2007 to 2010. To get there, Bauccio has made sweeping changes to the menu at Bon Appétit’s 400 cafeterias nationwide, reducing foods with largest global warming impacts (beef and air-transported ingredients), sourcing locally, and reducing food waste.

“Bon Appétit Management Company strives to change the way people view their food,” said Bauccio. “A decade ago, we created direct purchasing relationships with small family owned farms; today, we’re tackling food’s connection to climate change through the Low Carbon Diet initiative. I’m honored to be recognized by NRDC and the panel for our business initiatives.”

Thought Leader winner James Harvie, founding member of Health Care Without Harm, has helped catalyze a national campaign to encourage the inclusion of social and environmental awareness in hospital food service. To date, 240 hospitals around the country have signed the Health Food in Healthcare Pledge, which aims to support methods of food production and distribution that are better for public and environmental health.  

“It is critical that we improve people’s health and our healthcare system through better agricultural polices that promote affordable, nutritious and sustainably produced food in hospitals and other healthcare institutions,” said James Harvie. “I’m honored to receive this award as I continue to work on this vital issue in supporting sustainable agriculture.”

Members of the selection panel include: Larry Bain, Founder of Nextcourse and Food from the Parks and Co-Founder of Let’s Be Frank; Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow of the Leopold Center, and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture; and Karen Ross, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

The winners will be honored at NRDC’s 2009 benefit, “Food for Thought,” an event that will also honor Michael Pollan for his contributions to the field of sustainable food. The event will take place at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences on May 9.

See NRDC’s Eat Green fact sheet about making environmentally friendly food choices, and find out what’s fresh and local in your community at our Food Miles page.

Read Michael Pollan’s blog and the articles and essays from some of the awards finalists and winners in NRDC’s Greenlight.