A Cheat Sheet for Eating Locally

4 Aug

When I moved to the Bay Area from LA 7 years ago, I had never knowingly eaten something organic. And the concept of food miles didn’t even exist.

Things have changed a bit since then. Maybe it was watching An Inconvenient Truth, or maybe it’s all the food blogs I read, but lately, I can’t purchase food without thinking about where it came from. Is it organic? How many miles did it travel to reach me? Is it made by a huge corporation or a small business?

It can get kind of exhausting so I thought I’d make it easier for those of us in the Bay Area. I know I’m tired of making my head hurt in the bread aisle, trying to figure out what’s local and what’s organic.

So here’s a hopelessly incomplete list of local farms and companies in the extended Bay Area that make delicious food. I’ve left off the obvious – produce, beer, and wine – because there are dozens of local options to choose from (and I just wouldn’t know where to start). Enjoy:






Acme Bread Company




You can find this bread just about anywhere in the East Bay.

Clover Stornetta Farms

Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino

Many Products Are

Milk, Cheese, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, Yogurt

They win the prize for cutest mascot. You can find their products in most stores that carry natural foods.

Cowgirl Creamery

Point Reyes



Visit them at the SF Ferry Building and sample away.

Galaxy Granola



Take a wild guess…

Just discovered them – try the cranberry orange granola. I’ve only seen this at Whole Foods.

Ginger People



Ginger candy, ginger cooking sauces, ginger juice, ginger beer

Their Sweet Ginger Chili sauce with Hodo Soy’s tofu jerky is a great combination.

Hodo Soy Beanery

Somewhere in the 415


Yummy flavored tofu, plain tofu, soy milk, soy custard, soy noodles, soy chocolate mousse

I can’t live without their tofu jerky and sesame tofu strips. They’re at all of the major Bay Area farmer’s markets.

Ici Ice Cream



Ice cream, sometimes of the wildest flavors, including earl grey, stout, peaches and cream, rhubarb, rose petal, lavender….

Only available at their store on College. You might have to wait in line for a half hour, but trust me, it’s worth it! The person who started it was the pastry chef for Chez Panisse so you know it’s got to be yummy, local, and organic.

Numi Tea



Tea, tea, and more tea. I recommend trying one of their variety packs.

I live by tea, and Numi’s one of my favorite. Many stores and cafes carry their teas.

Phoenix Pastifico



Pasta, ravioli, pasta sauces

Pricey, but worth the treat once in a while. You can find their pasta at many farmer’s markets, and at their small store in Berkeley.

Redwood Hill Farm



Goat cheese and yogurt

Not certified organic yet due to lack of availability of organic feed. Still, no GMO or pesticides used.

Santa Cruz Organic

Santa Cruz


Juice, Soda, Apple Sauce, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Sauce

I can’t get enough of their lemonade during the summer. Most stores carry their products.

Strauss Family Creamery

Point Reyes


Milk, Yogurt, Butter

Their butter is heavenly. I’ve mostly seen their products at Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl.

Three Twins Ice Cream

San Rafael


Ice cream

Way too tasty. I’ve only seen this at the Berkeley farmer’s market, but I know some stores carry their ice cream.

Not convinced about eating local? Check out this this great YouTube video I found on the Eat Local Challenge blog, and learn to watch your (fo)odometer:


8 Responses to “A Cheat Sheet for Eating Locally”

  1. Dogtowner August 5, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    Have you read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”? If not, I highly recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who’s interested in food (and who isn’t?)

    Nice blog — especially the post about why the East Bay beats the West Bay, and the bike rack photo.

  2. Becks August 5, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    Somehow, I have not yet read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, though I’ve heard it’s excellent and plan to read it soon. I have read A Botany of Desire, one of his previous books, and have seen him speak a couple of times. He’s one of the first people who turned me on to food politics.

    Glad you like the blog!

  3. Dogtowner August 7, 2007 at 12:50 am #

    I liked Botany of Desire, but I liked his previous book Second Nature even more. It’s about gardening (and humankind’s relationship to nature), and I highly recommend it too.

  4. S.C. May 8, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    What’s your opinion on Santa Cruz Organic being owned by Smuckers,


  5. Becks May 8, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    I really wish there was an easy way to keep up with small, local companies being bought out. I didn’t know about this one and am upset to find out about it. Urggh… next time, I’ll research a bit closer.

    Oh well, at least now I’m growing lemons, so this summer, I’ll be able to have extremely local (and non-corporate) lemonade.

  6. S.C. May 8, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    I’m glad I stumble upon this blog, as it prompted me to re-investigate the issue of parent companies. I just exclaimed, Holy #$%, Conagra owns my tempeh! Now what to do?
    Check these out, not to upset but inform and inspire action (of what sort?)


  7. Becks May 8, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for the links. I freaked out when I saw that first link a couple months ago. I knew of several of those relationships, but others surprised me (Kellogg & Bear Naked, Hershey’s and Dagoba). The scary thing is that that chart doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    To get away from all of that messiness, I’ve been buying less and less processed foods and try to buy most of my food from the farmers market. I just hope that my favorite dairy companies (Clover & Strauss) don’t get bought out anytime soon.

  8. Becks May 8, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Oh, and if you’re looking for more info on these issues and what to do about them, check out some of the food blog links on the right.

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