We’re a community of conscious consumers. Santa Cruz shoppers and eaters have long made locally-grown, organic food a priority. And while it has taken the rest of the world some time to catch on, we’ve led the organic, local, sustainable train for some time, with businesses like New Leaf Community Markets, which has been around since the early 1980s, to CCOF, the country’s largest organic certifier, which has its roots in 1973.
The biggest piece of the organics story is the community connection. As a health-conscious and environmentally-aware city, we prioritize fresh, local food that tastes delicious and positively impacts our health and environment.
Shoppers are able to see where their food comes from and become friendly with their neighborhood butchers, grocers and favorite Farmers' Market produce vendors. Chefs and restaurateurs work directly with farmers as they create seasonal dishes. Santa Cruzans know how lucky we are to be so close to the source of fresh food, and we take advantage of it.
From the strong presence of farm-to-table restaurants to the Downtown and Westside Farmers' Market that showcases 45 growers and 20 artisan food purveyors every week, Santa Cruz is a place that thinks globally, but loves to eat locally.
Apples, strawberries, and grapes, Oh My! Our near-perfect climate makes it an obvious choice for agriculture. The first berry was planted in 1876, and by the early 1900s, about 2.5 million boxes of apples were being produced and shipped from Santa Cruz. The wine industry in Santa Cruz had an even earlier start. The first vineyard was planted way back in 1804 at the Mission Church, which is now the Harvey West Park area. By 1807, the wine industry had taken off in California, with 16 vintners in Santa Cruz County alone. Fast forward about 200 years; our agriculture industry has exploded to include an incredible variety of fruits and vegetables grown by over 682 farms in Santa Cruz County, covering 47,489 acres of land.
We’re proud to have the highest percentage of organic farms in California - 30%. (That’s more than double that of the #2 county.) Santa Cruz is at the heart of the modern organic-certification movement. One of the first organic certification agencies, CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) started around a Santa Cruz kitchen table in 1973. From that humble origin, CCOF became instrumental in advocating for federal organic legislation. Their organic certification standards were used as a foundation for the USDA National Organic Program, finally making “certified organic” a federally regulated claim. The organic label has expanded beyond fruits and vegetables to include wines, beers, and skin-care products, all created and sold locally.
of CA organic farms
Santa Cruz County farms
organic brewery supply store
Just the Type: Sentinel Printers Is Local All the Way
From finding ways to provide environmentally sustainable printing options, to their dedication to paying a living wage to employees, to their promotion of supporting other local businesses, Sentinel Printers is a Santa Cruz business that thinks local.
In Depth: Tejal Sood, Bayside Hotel Group
Last summer we had an opportunity to interview local hotelier, Tejal Sood. She and her family have been in the lodging and tourism industry here in Santa Cruz for decades, and they are up to some great things!
Set on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the incredible mix of marine species that live here provide the optimal location for research on marine life, coastal conservation, and other marine science endeavors.
The human genome was first mapped at UCSC, and the University remains a leader in the genomics field. The discoveries and research conducted at UCSC have resulted in the creation of several private genomics based companies.