Maria Grusauskas

Staff Writer

Chapulines: A Hoppening Snack

Pan-fried with chile, lime and salt, it's a taste treat. Photo by Maria Grusauskas.

Chapulines, or fried grasshoppers, could be the new potato chip if they weren’t so hard to find. A Oaxacan delicacy, in Mexico they are sold everywhere from the markets to the finest restaurants. The tasty little critters sporadically find their way north of the border into our local shops, but their presence is hardly advertised—if you want chapulines, you will have to ask for chapulines. Luckily, in the fertile belly of grasshopper season (May-September), it only takes a few inquiries at Mexican markets throughout Santa Cruz and Watsonville to track them down on local soil.

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Proposed Nitrates Rule Pits Farmers Against Activists

Dipti Bhatnagar, Margie Kay and Leslie López of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. (Maria Grusauskas)

Juggling hand-drawn maps and posters, Dipti Bhatnagar and Leslie López leave Watsonville’s Public Library to pack their props and generous snacks into the trunk of Bhatnagar’s sedan. It hardly matters that only a few community members found their way to their Wednesday evening educational workshop on regional water issues—it isn’t their first meeting, and it won’t be their last.

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Study: Gray Whales In Crisis

Study: Gray Whales In Crisis

From her boat in Moss Landing, Sarah Graham has seen several gray whales in Monterey Bay this month. But sightings of this majestic animal so late in the migration season are not normal—nor is anything else about this year. “There are not as many large groups of whales coming through the Monterey Bay, and we are seeing a lot of smaller, skinnier animals,” says Graham, who serves as West Coast Director at the California Gray Whale Coalition.

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Tourism Tax Vote Looms in Santa Cruz County

Advocates of a new tourism marketing district want to see more visitors coming to Santa Cruz.

As another summer dawns in Santa Cruz and the boardwalk begins to swell with tourists, the hotel industry is hoping this year will be better than last. It may soon get a leg up from local politicians. On Tuesday, June 15, the Board of Supervisors will make its final vote on the proposed Tourism Marketing District—a separate lodging fee that would be used exclusively by and for the tourism industry to promote tourism in Santa Cruz County. The proposed fee would add an additional $1-1.50 to hotel stays and provide an estimated $1.1 million to the Convention and Visitor’s Council. The idea has already received the thumbs-up from city councils in Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Capitola and Watsonville. The supes’ approval would make it official countywide.

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Santa Cruz’s Fairest

Indie songsmith Matt Costa headlines this year’s fair.

Helping to organize an all-day music and arts festival for a hoped-for turnout of at least 3,000 is no easy task. But Nancy Macy has pulled if off before. Sandy-haired and spritely in a “San Lorenzo Valley Redemption Recycling” T-shirt, she speaks enthusiastically about the Redwood Mountain Faire materializing on the near horizon—this Saturday, to be exact.

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Save Our Shores Targets Plastic Pollution

A leatherback sea turtle feasts on a jellyfish. Photo courtesy of

Although we don’t have to worry about a massive oil leak erupting in our immediate backyards, local waters do not go unharmed by the consequences of petroleum production. Save Our Shores—formed in 1978 to voice community opposition to offshore drilling—continues to fight against one of the unfortunate impacts of global oil dependence: plastic pollution.  With slide show.

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Rally Highlights K-12 Woes

Protesters gathered at the Clock Tower at 4pm as part of the March 4 day of awareness. Photo by Maria Grusauskas.

As a small procession made up mostly of university students made its way down Pacific Avenue yesterday, some onlookers were unimpressed.
“Seems pretty meager for a protest,” one man said, watching as a banner passed that read “We are the Budget Cuts.” What he, and perhaps many Santa Cruz residents, didn’t know is that the meager procession had broken off from a group of at least 400 students, faculty and workers who had been picketing since daybreak at the main entrance to UCSC. In a rare coalescence of solidarity between the town and the gowns, the university protest was, in the form of this small group, merging with a community demonstration to save public education.

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