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The James Beard Foundation recognizes leaders in sustainable food

Michelle Obama, Alice Waters among others receive an inaugural award that recognizes efforts to create a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world.

By Staff Writer / August 10, 2011

First lady Michelle Obama and American Indian children plant traditional crops in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, June 3, 2011.

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The James Beard Foundation, in efforts to recognize visionaries in the business, government and education sectors working to create a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world, has named the recipients of its inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards.

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The honorees – who range from urban agriculture heroes to tireless healthy school food pioneers – are Will Allen, Fedele Bauccio, Debra Eschmeyer, Sheri Flies, Jan Kees Vis, Fred Kirschenmann, First Lady Michelle Obama, Janet Poppendieck, Alice Waters, and Craig Watson.

The foundation, which is celebrating its 25th year, is showing a new focus beyond recognizing outstanding chefs with this inaugural award.

“Our foundation is widely known for recognizing the best chefs and restaurateurs in America through our annual James Beard Awards,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, in a press release. “Our new leadership awards shine the spotlight on game-changing pioneers who have inspired positive action to improve our country’s food system.”

According to the news release, honorees were chosen by an advisory board comprised of a dozen experts from diverse areas of expertise. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Among the criteria used to select final honorees are excellence of work, innovation in approach and scale of impact within a community or the nation.

2011 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Recipients

Will Allen, Founder and President, Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative and Founder and CEO of Growing Power:
For his lifelong work as a farmer and community activist dedicated to supporting low-income and small family farmers who bring healthy, affordable food to urban areas.

Fedele Bauccio, CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company:
For his commitment to quality food and socially responsible food sourcing.

Debra Eschmeyer, Co-Founder and Program Director, FoodCorps:
For addressing the issues of childhood obesity and diet-related disease through school lunch programs with the National Farm to School Network and her leadership of FoodCorps’ innovative programming.

Sheri L. Flies, Assistant General Merchandise Manager, Corporate Foods, Costco Wholesale Corporation:
For her work on the Juan Francisco Project, which assessed the sustainability of the existing supply chain for French beans in Guatemala and determined how it affects the lives of farmers and their families, and for playing a key role in Costco’s efforts to integrate sustainable practices in its buying decisions.

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