We’re delighted to announce that for the second year in a row, our Wild Thimbleberry Jam was named a Good Food Awards Winner. Noah and Chris spent the weekend in San Francisco, where Noah accepted the award on behalf of all the winners in the preserves category and gave a lovely speech. Here’s what he said:
I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of all the winners in this category – whose wonderful preserves, jams and vinegars from rosy strawberry to backyard grapefruit with campari and hand foraged wild beach plum, tayberry and spicy Fresno chili jam to name a few – speak more clearly to the fundamental value of Good Food and that vital connection between food and place than I could ever hope to. Celebrating with all of you is a wonderful way for our small company to mark over 30 years of jam-making.
In the early 50s when my dad Justin Rashid was five years old, my Detroit grocer grandparents purchased an old homestead Up North as a summer place, a log house on 40 acres in Wildwood, MI that had a raspberry patch, a sap house, and an old orchard surrounded by 30,000 acres of State forest. The previous owners had passed away suddenly while on vacation, so the basement was left stocked with their homemade preserves, berry wines and fruit cordials for his family to savor for years to come. He remembers that through the glass vessels in their cellar, the lost couple had, in his eyes, attained a kind of immortality. My grandmother didn’t drive in those long-ago summers, and when she couldn’t find a ride to Sunday Mass she would make jam or bake pies as penance or consolation. Perhaps it was then that my dad became convinced that the heated combination of fruit and sugar, and the fragrance that resulted, produced something sacred.
When American Spoon was founded in 1982 by my father – at that time a former New York actor turned forager – and his partner Chef Larry Forgione, both were amazed to discover the abundance and variety of wild and cultivated fruits in Northern Michigan that had been underappreciated or forgotten. Back then, the greatest challenge was to create an audience who could share their tremendous enthusiasm for America’s agricultural and culinary heritage. All these years later, as the next generation of artisans and entrepreneurs, we find ourselves with new challenges and responsibilities. So I want thank the founders and sponsors of the Good Food Awards for providing this annual reminder to the American marketplace that integrity and authenticity and passion do matter. That taking a keen interest in knowing the people who produce our foods, the places where they are grown, and the ingredients and methods that are used to make them is intrinsic to eating and living responsibly and well. And that the most humble endeavors – including making a simple jar of jam – can contain great ambition.
My fellow awardees in the Preserves category will also know only too well that point during the summer harvest season when you wouldn’t be able to core another pear, de-stem another elderberry, pit another peach, or peel another tomato unless you believed that the people who you were doing it for would recognize and savor something true and beautiful in every jar. Being surrounded by the inspired, dedicated people in this room re-instills all of us with that confidence and you can trust that we will be thinking of all you then. Thank you.