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Nov 22nd
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Briefs: To Market, to Market; Sack Attack

Specialty food conference in Watsonville, plastic bag ban roundup

To Market, to Market

County residents are spoiled for choices when it comes to shopping for specialty food products.

Numbers show the love we have for artisan breads and handcrafted cheeses is increasingly shared by consumers across the country. Americans spent $86 billion on specialty food items in 2012, a 22 percent increase over 2010—making the specialty food sector one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., according to a 2013 report by the Specialty Food Association and Mintel.

And with such a storied history of agriculture in Santa Cruz’s South County, there might be something exciting brewing around Watsonville, amidst signs that growers and foodies are ready to take business into their own hands—and have an increasingly bigger toolbox with which to do so. Policy shifts, such as California’s 2013 cottage food law, should make life easier for people who want to go into business from their own kitchens. The cottage food law allows small-scale specialty food producers to craft certain products in their homes, enabling folks to make extra income, or build a hobby into a viable business.

These trends spell opportunity for locals who want to realize their dream of starting their own businesses, says Carmen Herrera-Mansir, who’s helping to organize a conference on May 28 in downtown Watsonville. Herrera-Mansir is the executive director of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation (CDC), a Watsonville agency that supports micro-entrepreneurs and is putting on the event, which will focus on business and marketing, and could provide platforms for entrepreneurs trying to move past the “cottage food” level. “Our role is to open up horizons for people, and to connect them to bigger markets,” she says.

El Pajaro CDC and agency partners are holding the conference and networking event for people interested in starting their own specialty-food-based business, or those who have a product and want to know how to go to market. People are invited to showcase their food products at the networking reception after the conference.

Specialty Food Conference: Micro Goes to Market will be held Wednesday, May 28, at Watsonville Civic Plaza, 275 Main Street, 4th Floor, Watsonville. 722.1224. Roseann Hernandez

Sack Attack

There are now ordinances banning plastic bags and regulating paper ones in all local jurisdictions except Scotts Valley. There, despite 76 percent support from Scotts Valley residents (according to Civinomics), city councilmembers voted down a proposed ban, 4-1, last month. Councilmembers cited concerns about the impact a possible 10 cent fee would have on people with fixed incomes, and said they would like to see what regulations, if any, state lawmakers come up with.

The state version, Senate Bill 270, passed the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee this month, and would charge 10 cents per paper bag, while also banning plastic ones.

New Leaf customers who bring in their own bags can donate to an environmental nonprofit— thanks to the grocery store’s Envirotoken program. Voting for the token recipients runs through the month on New Leaf’s website. Jacob Pierce

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Over Hills and Plains, Riding a White Horse, Bow and Arrows in Hand

Saturday, early morning, the sun enters and radiates the light of Sagittarius. Three hours later, the Sagittarius new moon (0.07 degrees) occurs. “Let food be sought,” is the personality-building keynote. “Food” means experiences; all kinds, levels and types. It also means real food. Sag’s secret is their love of food. Many, if not musicians, are chefs. Some are both. The energies shift from Scorpio’s deep and transformative waters to the “hills and plains of Sagittarius.” Sag is the rider on a white horse, eyes focused on the mountain peaks of Capricorn (Initiation) ahead. Like Scorpio, Sagittarius is also the “disciple.” Adventure, luck, optimism, joy and the beginnings of gratitude are the hallmarks of Sagittarius. Sag is also one of the signs of silence. The battle lines were drawn in Libra and we were asked to choose where we stood. The Nine Tests were given in Scorpio and we emerged “warriors triumphant.” Now in Sag, we are to be the One-Pointed Disciple, riding over the plains on a white horse, bow and arrows in hand, eyes focused on the Path of Return ahead. Sagittarians are one-pointed (symbol of the arrow). Sag asks, “What is my life’s purpose?” This is their quest, from valleys, plains, meadows and hills, eyes aimed always at the mountaintop. Sag emerges from Scorpio’s deep waters, conflict and tests into the open air. Sag’s quest is humanity’s quest. Sag’s quest, however, is always accompanied by music and good food.

 

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