As we mentioned in our piece Department of Breaking Your Arm By Patting Yourself On The Back, your friendly Pundit had been nominated for a Jesse H. Neal award for his column “The Fruits of Thought” published in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS.
Now we have learned that we actually won the Neal award.
We were a little late arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Produce Solutions Conference because we had to stop for an awards banquet at New York’s famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
It was an exciting moment when they called out the winner.
And as the cameras flashed and hundreds of people applauded, this Pundit’s mind went back to a day in 1985 when PRODUCE BUSINESS was just an idea, and the industry had only two newspapers. Many people told us that the idea of starting a magazine was quixotic because produce people didn’t read.
Walking up to the stage to accept, we remembered the outrage we felt at that sentiment and the determination that in this industry, where for so many generations the Prevor family had found sustenance, we would both reflect the increasing professionalism of the trade and help to hurry that process along.
Now the produce industry would stand with the computer industry and the banking industry, with the legal profession and the hundred others as a fully professional field of endeavor, one that each participant in the trade can take pride in telling their children about.
This was the journey we started over two decades ago.
The judges have explained that in awarding a Jesse H. Neal award they seek out “Work that shows a great mastery of the subject … a fresh and creative approach or insight into the topic… and a certain elegance and ambition and power about how all these elements are brought together.”
And the Judges in their citation, complimented our work by calling the columns “…a refreshing change… provocative and well reasoned.”
There is a sense in which this kind of award means little. We would rather have praise from one expert in our field than 20 panels of distinguished outsiders. Yet, an industry is judged by its institutions and, as one of those institutions, we find a certain satisfaction in winning one for the industry.