Urban Food Awards: Homegrown Heroes

“At first glance, London’s foodscape may appear to be dominated by fast food and supermarket chains. But scratch the surface of this city and you find a vibrant food culture.” – Dale Gibson of Bermondsey Street Bees. 

Why is there a need for Urban Food Awards? Surely, ‘scratching the surface’ at your local shop might not bring surprising results (mind, the more entrepreneurial off licences are quickly responding to a growing interest in local and organic products).

On the one hand, supermarkets are scary places – their sterile environments, food hidden in colourful packaging, illustrations of happy cows, that clash with terrifying YouTube videos showing the reality of animal farming…

Many Londoners have stopped eating meat – it’s hard to know where it comes from and it’s too cheap, to a point it doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, making the time to go to local food market might seem like another task on a ‘to-do’ list.

Sara Warn, the founder of HenCorner, a West London based honey and hen farm, agrees: “We so often think that food and farming happens in the countryside and gets delivered by the truck load for the expanding communities of London, yet here we find many urban farmers growing amazing fresh crops, keeping chickens and bees, and marvellous bakers getting their fingers in the flour as they create bread and buns for those who seek them out…”

That said, you don’t have to be an activist, vote green, have time to google every brand and its ethical manifesto to eat food grown locally and with care! Accessing good food, should be as easy as popping into a local supermarket on the way home.

The Urban Food Awards, especially The Best Retailer category, are promoting people working on making ‘the accessibility dream’ our everyday reality. Run by the Mayor of London, Sustain’s London Food Link and Borough Market, it celebrates London’s fantastic food scene. In addition to great taste, they throw the spotlight on the good food practices and people behind the products.

We are excited to be among the nominees (woo-hoo!), but most importantly we are thrilled to witness a fast accelerating ethical food demand. Afterall, it’s not a panel of judges who are picking the winner, it’s Londoners making the choice.

Street bees
Dale Gibson, the founder of Bermondsey Street Bees, also a nominee, said: “The Urban Food Awards make an important contribution to that endeavour – recognising the people who grow, make and sell real food in this great city. It’s hard work, but Londoners really appreciate their homegrown food heroes.”

The promotion element is key, the nominees not only are producing good quality food, they are also tackling pressing environmental and even social issues.

For instance, Café from Crisis, has been training and supporting ex-offenders and those affected by homelessness into work for nearly 12 years. Jeremy Wood, the café manager, said that “the wider recognition gained through the awards helps them to continue their work transforming lives and serving healthy, delicious food to the Shoreditch community and beyond.”

The Urban Food Awards list is exciting, yet going to a number of different shops to find individual products can get time consuming and tiring. At The Food Assembly, we make it easy to buy fresh food directly from local farmers and foodmakers. In fact, you can find many of the Urban Food Award nominees in our network and can simply order their products via our website.

We’re really proud to have these amazing nominees in a London Food Assembly network – Thirsty House Kombucha who make local fresh fermented tea from South-west London, and fresh recipe kits from A Very Nice Idea are a huge inspiration.

Then there’s ChicP who make hummus made from surplus fruit & vegetables. The wonderful Lazaro Artisan Baker in South London’s Putney, and urban farm and social entreprise, Cultivate London. We’re really lucky to have all these producers supplying our local food communities.


Our model creates a fair marketplace for small producers, who meet our criteria for sustainable and ethical food sourcing such as higher welfare meat and organic certified. Whether it’s local honey from Peckham or cheese from Bermondsey, we support and only say Yes to Local! Lastly, food producers have zero-waste because the food is preordered online.

Do you share our values? Please vote for The Food Assembly in London’s Urban Food Awards and join our online network and offline community, we’ll be seeing you at street parties, talks, farmers markets, local food festivals… Can’t wait!


Rasa Jusionyte

Rasa Jusionyte

Rasa Jusionyte is a freelance magazine editor, the founder of The Interview London magazine and communications strategist working with food, hospitality and social businesses.


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