Eating Green in Santa Barbara

Eating “green” is one of the many ways to celebrate Earth Day virtually this year. Our food choices are a very immediate, tangible way we can lessen our impact on the environment simply by prioritizing consuming regionally grown and cultivated ingredients. That’s a healthy rule of thumb in general!

When you eat and drink like a locavore, you’re supporting the local fishermen, farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers, distillers and other purveyors of deliciousness—people who also happen to be your neighbors. Choosing locally sourced ingredients benefits your community’s economy, your health, and planet Earth. Not only is it easier on your conscience, but the food’s also tastier because it’s fresh and of the highest quality, making it all the more nutritious for your body.

What added motivation do you need to eat well for the planet?! The eco-friendly rule of thumb is that “local” constitutes anything sourced within 100 miles of where you live. So, whether you’re a Central Coast resident or live in Southern California, when you choose Santa Barbara ingredients, you’re making a green choice. We’ve compiled some recommendations to help you raise the green bar, from sustainable seafood and locally roasted coffee to organic farms and artisanal olive oil to handmade truffles. Bon appetit!

Home Grown Fruits & Veggies

Agriculture is a leading industry in Santa Barbara County for good reason. The Mediterranean climate and topography create year-round growing conditions. The region is home to approximately 150 organic farms, with strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, avocados and peppers among the top crops. Local and Los Angeles-area restaurants have direct relationships with Santa Barbara’s many farms and ranches, and even reference specific farms on their menus. The public can access local harvests firsthand at weekly Santa Barbara County Certified Farmers’ Markets. Note: All farmers’ markets are currently still operating with social distancing measures in place.

Signing up for a regular Community Support Agriculture (CSA) produce delivery is another way to directly support local farms. Vendors like Plow to Porch Organics, Local Harvest Delivery, and The Farm Box Collective offer weekly subscriptions for boxes of produce from local farms, which can also include extras like local organic honey, eggs, pies, olive oils, jams, fresh fish and hormone-free grass-fed beef. They all serve Goleta, Santa Barbara and Montecito areas.

The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens Farms in Goleta is the oldest CSA in Santa Barbara County. The 125-year old certified organic farm opens its farm stand to the public weekly. Currently, the farm stand is open Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Note: In response to COVID-19, Fairview Gardens is offering pre-packaged produce bags available for pick up during Wednesday farm stand hours. Reservations must be made by Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. in order to be ready for pick up the next day.

Sustainable Seafood

The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the west coast’s richest sources of marine life thanks to Mother Nature’s handiwork and the community’s longtime dedication to environmental protection. The diversity of more than 120 different wild-caught regional delicacies runs the gamut from seasonal Santa Barbara spot prawns, white sea bass and ridgeback shrimp to year-round hauls of halibut, swordfish and rock crab. Squid, California spiny lobster and sea urchin are the top commercial fisheries, and mussels, abalone and oysters are also farmed in local waters, which yield 10 million pounds of seafood a year. Check out our Seafood Lover’s Guide to Santa Barbara to find out where you can try the best local catch in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Fish Market is a daily source for fresh, local catch at the Santa Barbara Harbor. Note: The storefront remains open and they are also offering home delivery within a 10-mile radius of their wholesale facility (711 Bond Ave.). Every Saturday morning from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., local fishermen sell their fresh catch at the Fisherman’s Market on the Santa Barbara Harbor. Get Hooked Seafood offers both pick-up and home deliveries of locally sourced, fresh, sustainable seafood typically caught just one or two days prior. You can select the size of the box and tailor the type of seafood varieties to your preferences. They also provide recipes and preparation instructions.

Be a Friend to the Ocean

You don’t have to be a seafood fan to show your love to the sea. Twenty-five Santa Barbara restaurants are part of the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program. When you patronize these establishments—which run the gamut from juice bars and fine dining restaurants to cafes and coffee houses—you’re doing your part as a consumer to combat plastic pollution. The program creates scalable impact one restaurant, one customer at a time by keeping plastic fragments our of our marine ecosystems.

Go Plant-Based

Vegetarians and vegans ascribe to a plant-based diet, whether motivated by a passion for animal rights or the environment. Studies have shown that eliminating meat and dairy can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by more than 70%. For that reason, many non-vegans make “Meatless Monday” a habit. Santa Barbara has many vegan-friendly eateries, which you can find in our Healthy Eats Guide*. Or, test your at-home cooking skills with these plant-friendly recipes submitted by area chefs.

*Note: Many of these restaurants are offering delivery and pick-up.

Upgrade Your Pantry Staples

You definitely don’t need to be local to stock your pantry with specialty products made right here in Santa Barbara. Pacific Pickle Works makes a range of cocktail mixers, snacks and garnishes. While Global GardensLos Olivos farm stand-style shop is currently closed, their olive oil and fruit vinegar mail-order business is going strong. Support local coffee roasters like Santa Barbara Roasting Company, Handlebar Coffee and Dune Coffee Roasters who will ship freshly roasted beans to your home. Santa Barbara Pistachio Company is also taking online orders.

The Sweet Stuff

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, place an order for decadent handmade chocolate truffles from Jessica Foster Confections. Stock up on Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate single-origin handmade “bean-to-bar” chocolates, which can be picked up at the shop or ordered online.

Local grocers throughout Santa Barbara and Southern California carry artisanal ice creams by Santa Barbara-born brands, Rori’s and McConnell’s.

Local Libations

Sipping local is as just as important as eating local. See our Dine, Sip & Support Local Guide for a comprehensive list of restaurants, wineries and breweries offering pick-up and home delivery during the crisis—cocktails included! For out of towners, see our Online Shopping Guide for a selection of wineries offering free shipping.