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Local Organic Products See a Natural Progression on South Coast

Businesses specializing in natural, homegrown products welcome a growth spurt

The market for natural organic food — especially on the South Coast — has been growing, and demand for an alternative to sugary drinks and processed food is seeing a dramatic increase, according to owners of small companies that specialize in such products.

Touting itself as the only Santa Barbara bakery specializing in organic pies, quiches and cheesecakes, Simply Pies moved to a larger retail space at 5392 Hollister Ave. earlier this year from its De la Vina Street location.

Co-owner Nancy Blau said the pie cottage and bakery is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with plans to expand retail hours soon. Orders also can be placed online by clicking here.

Blau and co-owner Hana Miller opened the bakery in July 2008, but at first only sold their wares to order and allowed for pick-ups and deliveries. Since then, they’ve sold thousands of their baked goods.

“Everything is homemade and handcrafted, just like grandma used to make,” said Blau, who comes from a family of pie makers. For many, this tradition has been lost in the fast-food culture, she said. The bakery makes its products with organic ingredients acquired from environmentally friendly neighborhood businesses, farmers and co-ops.

Blau said theirs is the first Santa Barbara bakery to offer gluten-free, vegan and regular sweet or savory crusts. Sugar-free alternatives are available on some pies. Prices for regular pies range from $10.99 to $21.99. Pot pies have just been added to the growing menu, Blau said.

Click here for more information or call 805.845.2200.

•    •    •

The Kiddo Co. is an all-natural children’s snack-food maker on the South Coast. Founder Beth Bailey makes Super Sweet Potato and Wild Blueberry Apple flavors in squeezable pouches.

Kiddo was founded in Bailey’s Santa Barbara kitchen. Her goal was to create a convenient and fun way to provide children with a tasty serving of fruit and vegetables.

“I just wanted my kids to eat real food,” she said.

After a great deal of research and many home kitchen recipe tests, she developed the “Squeezie,” single-serve pouches that are a convenient way to give children organic and local vegetables and fruit parents can feel good about, while promoting healthy living.

Bailey’s products — which contain no added sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors and are gluten- and dairy-free — sell for $4.99 to $5.69 for a pack of six.

She said she works hard to find the best vegetables and fruit available from South Coast organic sources. She uses a special technique to minimally process each batch to keep the natural antioxidants and vitamins in the food.

“My passion is to provide a healthy grab-and-go snack that is convenient for parents and fun for youngsters,” she said. “I hope to make a difference in what children eat.”

With research and passion behind her, Bailey said all she had to do was walk in the front door of Whole Foods market and convince the buyer she had a product the store at 3761 State St. had to stock on its shelves. The buyer snapped it up.

She received a similar response at Lazy Acres Market, 302 Meigs Road, on the Mesa.

In response to consumer demand, Bailey said she has started a program to have the squeezable packages recycled at Lazy Acres and Whole Foods markets where her products are sold.

Click here for more information or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

•    •    •

Otto Stowe, a nearly 40-year South Coast resident and member of the only modern, single-season undefeated NFL team, runs his own natural organic sports drink company. Stowe, owner of Santa Barbara-based Organic Sports, played wide receiver for the 17-0 Miami Dolphins in 1972, and he proudly wears one of his two Super Bowl rings.

A vegetarian for 36 years and a certified yoga instructor for a quarter-century, Stowe admitted that when he was growing up, he ate at McDonald’s; but when he was away from home, he learned yoga in college and wanted to experience a better life through nutrition.

Like many pro football players, Stowe said he had to take painkillers at times in order to compete, but he did not take drugs such as steroids, which many professional athletes are associated with today. He said he always preferred natural foods to help keep him in shape for the rigors of the sport.

After leaving the game and moving to Santa Barbara, where he and his wife earned their respective degrees at UCSB, Stowe coached a number of successful youth sports teams.

About six years ago, he fell and severely injured his back.

“I was very fortunate to be able to walk again,” Stowe said.

Stowe chose not to have invasive surgery and decided to try to heal with nutrition, physical therapy and activities such as yoga. While sitting paralyzed in a wheelchair for a time, he began formulating the idea behind his Organic Sports line.

About three years ago, he launched the line with his wife, Judy. He sells Organic Sports products at the Isla Vista Food Co-op, 6575 Seville Road, which he and his wife helped get started; New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, 1984 Old Mission Drive, Solvang; and on the Internet.

Organic Sports drinks have several ingredients that provide protein, high fiber and B vitamins, including bee pollen, spirulina (blue-green micro algae made from seaweed), and hemp and sunflower seeds. The ingredients provide greater energy and endurance while aiding memory, Stowe said, noting that hemp has twice the protein of beef. The ingredients are mixed in a local certified kitchen, he said.

Stowe said he uses his own products every day and can speak to their effectiveness. He He said he is sure his concoction mixed with fruit juice has helped him recover from his injury.

Click here for more information or call 805.968.5181.

•    •    •

Like many locals, Rudy Castillo Jr. loves grilling and barbecuing on the weekend with family and friends — a tradition passed down from his father.

He said is father developed his own dry rub seasoning for cooking, which is a blend that is applied to meat, fish, vegetables and other items on the grill. The younger Castill said he would make his own. someday.

About two years ago, Castillo started his own business making natural seasonings for chicken, pork, beef, fish, poultry and vegetables. And Santa Barbara Seasoning was born.

Castillo’s products contain natural ingredients, low sodium, no preservatives, no free-flowing agents and are without MSG, and they’re sold in stores throughout the Santa Barbara area, such as Vices & Spices from Around the World, Tri-County Produce Co., Il Fustino Oils & Vinegars, Santa Cruz Market in Goleta and Los Olivos Grocery in Santa Ynez.

Castillo said the ingredients are not organic because the cost to make them would be prohibitive. He said he wants to be the next McCormick,” referring to the 120-year-old seasoning company whose brands reach almost 100 countries with annual sales of more than $3 billion.

Castillo still works full time as an oil field electrician. So far, he has grown his line to about eight types of seasonings, which start at $6 each.

His Original Blend can be used on burgers or prime rib, meatloaf or tri-tip. It’s also tasty on Cornish game hens or turkey and could be sprinkled on salad. Other blends include Habenero Dulce, Onion Blend, RC’s Choice, Seafood Harvest, Steakhouse Grill and Saltless n’ Savory.

Click here to purchase Santa Barbara Seasoning products online. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information or call 805.699.6014.

•    •    •

Santa Barbara-based Lime Green Monkey offers organic, daily-use cloths that help children and adults lessen their impact on the environment, according to founder Kristin Anderson.

Lime Green Monkey products are made from organic silk in a process that does not kill the silk worms that actually make the fabric.
Lime Green Monkey products are made from organic silk in a process that does not kill the silk worms that actually make the fabric. (Ray Estrada / Noozhawk photo)

Her products are designed to replace single-use disposable items, such as tissue or paper napkins, with reusable, adorable cloths that can be used over again after washing.

So far, Anderson said she has produced more than 2,500 of the cloths with their distinctive designs for the trademark, “Snot Couture.” She said few people are turning their noses up at her products.

She said her company is creating sustainable, practical and fun cloth products that help children and adults do their part in saving the planet every day. She uses 100 percent organic cotton, made in a fair-trade facility in India. Each item is cut, sewn and printed in the United States using eco-friendly, nontoxic inks for their illustrations.

After watching her 3-year-old son, Ezra, use so many tissue products when he was a baby compelled the Andersons to consider an alternative. Her European husband said he was used to cloth handkerchiefs, but Anderson said paper products were commonly used for wiping American noses.

Her husband said, “You want to live as sustainably as possible: You use alternative transportation, you buy your groceries at the farmers market, you recycle. But just look at all that tissue in the bin. Why don’t you use a handkerchief?”

The mound of single-use tissues piled higher as a cold Anderson caught from Ezra dragged on for days. Anderson said she thought about all the trees it must take to make boxes of tissue and how the used ones go into a landfill.

Anderson started making cloth handkerchiefs for her family and friends and learned about the many problems associated with disposable paper products, and why cloth was a better option. She said that is how Snottykins and Lime Green Monkey came into being.

Lime Green Monkey products are made from cotton that has not been sprayed with pesticides that can irritate skin.

Anderson says she’s “helping save the planet blow by blow.” She said she’s careful, sticks to her business plan and even uses recycled CD containers to hold her products, which are priced between $8 and $9.

Click here for more information about Lime Green Monkey and its products, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.886.9147.

•    •    •

The Plow to Porch organic market opened last month at 3204 State St. The subject of a previous Noozhawk feature, Plow to Porch also delivers its produce, which is grown on the Central Coast. Click here for more information about Plow to Porch Organics, or call Pam Plesons at 805.705.4786.

Noozhawk contributor Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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