.The Plant-Forward Honey B Market Nourishes Santa Cruz

‘Building the community up on a small scale’ is part of what inspires owner-operator Katie Belanger

Honey B Market owner-operator Katie Belanger is about her craft. Talk to her for more than a minute, and she might dive deep into her thoughts on how tempeh should be made by hand in an unpasteurized way that doesn’t kill off helpful bacteria. Or how fermenting foods is a spiritual endeavor. Or how grains and their healthful qualities are often misunderstood.

“The overall mission is creating a higher standard of what we think of as ‘food’ in our food systems,” she says. “It’s about connecting people back to why they eat—nourishment and breaking it down to the fundamentals of cooking. Fermentation was how we preserved our foods back in the day, and a lot of that was lost in the industrial-convenience ‘revolution.’ 

“It’s our duty to reverse that.”

Another way to understand her passion: Simply try, say, the signature cinnamon snail. 

Its ingredients and flavor profiles shout “Hand-crafted!” and “Thoughtful!” Note the house-fermented sourdough milk bun, cinnamon date swirl and probiotic cashew icing. 

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Belanger’s route to Santa Cruz—which feels like fate—was not a straight line, but the same applies to the path to enlightenment. 

She left Chicago because she’d had enough cold and wind and took a job at Whole Foods in Southern California but soured on its iffy adherence to true whole foods principles—then won $75,000 on a TNT cooking game show called “On the Menu” that funded her startup. 

Honey B has been open for two months and it introduced its spring seasonal menu last week. The menu includes a breakfast burrito wrapping tempeh-lentil chorizo, avocado salsa and spicy cashew cheese in hand-rolled whole wheat tortillas fresh off a two-day ferment; expanded grab-and-go items like kimchi noodle salad and oyster mushroom ceviche; and pantry essentials like sprouted almond butter, chimichurri and dog treats. 

A penultimate note here, in the form of a riddle: What’s better than the plant-forward fever dream that is Honey B? Honey B plus a resident coffee program, Conspiracy Coffee Co., by coffee industry vet Eddie Alaniz, who launched the startup amid Covid. 

He prioritizes single-origin beans, cold brew and real-deal coffee that will raise eyebrows as much as Benager’s life-forceful foods. 

And one final note: Honey B is open 9am-4pm Wednesday-Sunday at 1005 Cedar St. It’s good to get there on the early side, as items sell out—and given their slow ferments, they can’t be whipped up to order. 

And … Action!

Good Times wrote a love note about Buzzo Pizza’s imminent opening on Valentine’s Day, only for the much-much-delayed opening to be, yes, delayed further. The good news is that it is now finally dishing seductive pizzas charred at temperatures exceeding 800 degrees. buzzopizza.com

Wise is Good

FishWise, the Santa Cruz-based sustainable seafood consultancy outfit, has announced Jenny Barker as their new executive director. She’s done heroic work for FW’s Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability. FishWise has been going for 20 years and advises over 4,500 grocery stores across the U.S. and governments and nonprofits in 89 countries.

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