Grower's Organic Awards will honor Denver's best organic restaurants, grocers and growers

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"Organic" and "sustainable" are words that get thrown a lot these days. But being truly organic requires more than just buying the lettuce branded as such. And so the Grower's Organic Awards were created to give recognition to Denver restaurants, growers and grocers that are truly making an effort to use sustainable practices.

After fifteen years in Denver, Grower's Organic is the biggest supplier of organic, local produce in the state. "Our mission is to provide a vital link between small farms and consumers," says Brian Freeman, co-founder of the company. "All around, people are doing great things, but a lot of them don't get recognition. They're sort of unsung heroes."

See also: - Eating and living organic: Q&A with Brian Freeman, co-founder of Grower's Organics - Cure Organic Farm veggies are manna from foodie heaven - Red Wagon Organic Farms: Can't beet its produce!

To give these heroes some deserved recognition, this year Freeman established the Grower's Organic Awards, which he hopes will become an annual event. Anyone can make nominations for any of the nine awards divided into three categories:

Best Local Organic Restaurant

Award 1: Best use of seasonal organic products Award 2: Most resourceful use of organics Award 3: Most beneficial use of on-site organic garden

Best Organic Grocers

Award 1: Best selection of organic produce available Award 2: Most informative to consumers (provisions of organic recipes, organic knowledge, etc.) Award 3: Best community involvement (by employees)

Best Organic Growers

Award 1: Most exotic item grown by organic farmers Award 2: Exemplifies employee support Award 3: Community involvement (educational aspects, field trip availability, etc.)

Guidelines for the awards are located on the Grower's Organic website; you can e-mail nominations to awards@growersorganic.com. The deadline for submission is Monday, September 24. Winners will receive a gift certificate for Grower's Organic and an invitation to a Taste of Organic roundtable dinner with Freeman.

But the real award will be increased awareness of the organic movement. "It's important to recognize that the mission of organic is not just about our health, but the health of the planet," Freeman concludes.

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