Santa Cruz County is a mecca of fresh, organic and locally sourced food. Restaurants are surrounded by farms offering fresh organic produce, pasture-raised meats and free-range eggs, and sustainable fisheries providing responsibly caught fish from the waters of the diverse, protected Monterey Bay. Indeed, some chefs do most of their shopping at farmers’ markets, while other restaurants have their own organic gardens and chicken coops.
Sustainable food can be defined as coming from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the structure or function of affected ecosystems. This definition is abridged from FishWise, a local organization that was founded in 2002 through collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and a pilot project with New Leaf Community Markets to support marine conservation through seafood purchasing decisions.
It doesn’t hurt that Santa Cruz is also home to the UCSC Center of Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems – a research, education and public service program dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system. The three-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and 30-acre UCSC Farm, which serve as research, teaching and training facilities, have blessed the area with an abundance of committed farmers who are dedicated to sustainability.
The following is a selection of sustainable restaurants in the region, check back regularly for updates to the list.