Orange County is one of California’s most beloved and iconic destinations. With seemingly endless beaches, epic surf, stunning nature, “SoCal” culture, and yearlong summer, it is understandable why. One of the down-to-earth gems of Orange County is Huntington Beach. Nicknamed “Surf City USA” for generations, this legendary surf town offers much more beyond what its nickname suggests. Huntington Beach is laid-back and lives according to the surf report, making it a truly special part of Orange County. But Huntington Beach’s love for living according to nature extends beyond its relationship with the ocean. This surfer’s haven is also paradise on earth for those who love locally farmed produce, farmers’ markets, and farm-to-plate dining.
With its unique Mediterranean climate, California is able to grow a huge variety of crops and is the largest producer of food in the United States. The area around Huntington Beach is no different. As the city center quickly rambles into suburbia and neighboring towns, you will find a plethora of local farms, orchards and ranches dotted throughout the area. From orange groves to pumpkin patches, pick-your-own strawberries to pick-your-own Christmas trees, the climate of Orange County allows for a generous range of locally grown possibilities.
A RICH AGRICULTURAL HISTORY
Historically, this area is where much of California’s citruses were grown and was once home to a forest of over five million orange trees. It isn’t called Orange County for nothing! Once upon a time, California’s Orange County was rural farmland before it was slowly converted into suburbia during the population boom after World War II. This transformation was so recent that some local old- timers remember when parking lots were strawberry fields, housing developments were pastures, and freeways were orchards. And yet, despite these changes, the rich farming legacy of the Huntington Beach area still grows through the cracks of development. You can still taste a slice of this history by exploring the old orchards of nearby Anaheim and Irvine and enjoying the local harvests at Huntington Beach’s many farmers’ markets and local-sourcing grocery stores. While agriculture was seemingly squeezed by rapid development, the culture and access to farm-fresh food remain intact.
FARM TRADITIONS WITH A MODERN TWIST
While the Huntington Beach area was best known for its agricultural production of oranges, berries and dairy, present-day Huntington Beach has expanded its locally grown produce beyond its historical legacy. Nowadays you can find just about anything. Enjoy stands selling succulent recently plucked strawberries. Farm stands and farmers’ markets are plethoras, selling just about all of your fresh- produce needs. There are also many providers of locally raised and sourced meat and animal products for those who like to eat meat a little closer to home. Thanks to the balmy Tuscan climate, one can also find locally grown and pressed olive oil at nearby Newport Beach. No need to go north for California wines, as some excellent vineyards and wines have moved into the area, such as Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery. Or why not explore all your favorite fermentation, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut and fermented foods you’ve never even heard of at the local fermentation producer?
Those who live in Huntington Beach not only reap the benefit of the ocean but also of Southern California’s fertile agriculture and farm-to-table culture. Head to Main Street in downtown Huntington Beach on Tuesdays for a totally eclectic and excellent, appropriately named Huntington Beach Farmers Market. This family-run farmers’ market combines the spirit of the farm with the convenience of the local grocery store for an amazing farm-to-table shopping experience. Here, you can find everything from artisanal foods, local produce, baked goods, locally raised meats, delicious food vendors, artisanal cheeses, locally made artisan products, wines, plants, honey, eggs, hummus, and just about anything else. The best part is: it’s all local! Alternatively, for the night owls and something a little different, there’s Surf City Nights Street Fair and Certified Farmers’ Market.
Even if the Main Street farmers’ market isn’t running, the many family-run farm stands around Huntington Beach will ensure you have all the produce you need all week long. Many of the grocery stores in Huntington Beach also source locally grown products and, more often than not, you will be buying something grown in Orange County. There are also farmers’ markets in the surrounding areas where you can explore other local foods and different vendors while experiencing more of the land-loving community around Huntington Beach.
With a culture that values locally farmed foods as much as a good wave, you are sure to have all your farm-fresh needs met in Huntington Beach, California.
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