THE BLOG
06/13/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NRDC Celebrates Food Pioneers who Are Growing Green and Reshaping Our Food System

Today NRDC announced the winners of our second annual Growing Green Awards. These awards honor the farmers and food pioneers across the country who are helping us rethink the food we eat and its impacts on the environment.

Just last year, we rolled up our sleeves and started our first search for people who were feeding a growing demand for healthier, more sustainable food. One hundred and forty nominations later, we were amazed and inspired by how these leaders were saving energy, reducing their global warming pollution, educating their communities and growing lots and lots of nutritious, delicious food.

This year, our number of nominees jumped to 170. Not only are more farmers realizing that it's better for their land and health to grow more sustainably, but more families are rolling up their sleeves and starting to eat (and grow) green, too. They're shopping at farmers' markets, buying organic, planting gardens and finding a new joy in food.

And healthier food is making the headlines every day, thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama's exciting new campaign and food celebrities like Jamie Oliver who are sparking the Food Revolution. There's no doubt: our food system is going green, and we're eating it up.

NRDC's 2010 Growing Green Awards celebrate the people who are meeting our hunger for food that's healthier for our bodies and the planet.

Here are the winners of this year's Growing Green Awards:

• Russ Lester won the 2010 Growing Green Award for Food Producers. Lester is the co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms, the largest U.S. handler of organic walnuts, and has dramatically reduced the environmental impacts of his walnut orchards and processing. His walnuts are grown without harmful chemicals, and he converts waste walnut shells into energy that is used to power other stages of walnut processing.

• Mike Benziger won the 2010 Growing Green Award in the Water Steward category for his indstury-leading water conservation and recycling methods. Founder of Benziger Family Winery, Benziger uses a constructed wetland and pond treatment system to recycle an average of 2 million gallons of water per year.

• Fred Kirschenmann won the 2010 Growing Green Award for Thought Leaders. For over 30 years, Kirschenmann has inspired sustainable food advocates, researchers and policymakers to learn more about local food systems that work in harmony with nature and our health. Kirschenmann is President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a New York nonprofit that serves as a sustainable farm, kitchen and teaching campus for nearby city dwellers.

• Karl Kupers won the 2010 Growing Green Award in the Business Leader category. Kupers co-founded Shepherd's Grain, which reconnects 33 growers in the Pacific Northwest to local markets through the sale of sustainably farmed wheat. Kupers uses an untraditional pricing model to help his growers profit from higher levels of environmental stewardship.

Scroll through to see videos of all the 2010 winners: