Thursday, December 18, 2008

Food Contest Accepting Entries for 2009

Got a Georgia food product you’d like to showcase? The University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development is searching for its third annual Flavor of Georgia grand prize winner.

The Flavor of Georgia contest is designed to spotlight market-ready food – whether commercially available or prototypes – made in Georgia. Categories are barbecue and hot sauces; confections; meat products; snack foods; jams, jellies and sauces; and dairy products.
Entries are judged on flavor, best use of Georgia ingredients, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality. The 2009 winner will be named at the Georgia Ag Day in Atlanta on March 17. Gov. Sonny Perdue will present awards for the top products in each category and a grand prize for the best overall product.

Last year’s contest drew 150 entries as diverse as organic sweet tea, a sweet pepper dressing, glazed peanuts and a sloppy Joe sauce alternative.

“We had a very good variety, a lot of new, innovative products and a lot of good entrepreneurs behind them,” said John McKissick, an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the CAED director.

For the first two contests, the meat category winners were both named grand prize winners. In 2007, Michael Simmons of Bradley Creek Seafood in Savannah won the first contest with his shrimp-and-sausage-filled low country pastry. Will Harris of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Ga., won the ’08 contest with his grass-fed beef rib eye.

“I just had a very lucky day,” Harris said of winning the contest. “There were no losers in that room. I have immense respect for any entrepreneur who takes the risk to produce food to market outside of the industrial complex.”

Georgia residents can submit entries through Jan. 23, 2009. Winners earn the right to have their products stamped with the Flavor of Georgia 2009 logo.

To register a product, visit www.areg.caes.uga.edu and scroll down to Flavor of Georgia. For more information, visit www.caed.uga.edu or call Sharon Kane at (706) 542-2434 or e-mail at spkane@uga.edu.

The contest is also sponsored by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Rural Development Council, Governor’s Agricultural Advisory Commission and UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.

(Author Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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