Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter

overall Rating:



Kristen Tam
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I am proud that Santa Cruz Organics invests in renewable energy to reduce their GHG emissions and help combat global warming as well as partners with farmers who value building soil by applying compost as fertilizer. However, their lack of transparency on how their nut butters are made, as well as if their statement that 95% of waste is recycled includes their glass packaging that consumers take waste disposal responsibility for, make me hesitant to give a higher score because I don’t know how the product actually makes its way to my local Wholefoods.

what it's made of:


Organic Roasted Peanuts, Contains 1% Or Less Of Salt.

Organic, Dry Roasted Almonds, Contains 2% or Less of Sea Salt.

The definition of “Organic“ means that crops are not GMO, have no irradiation (exposure to radiation) or sewage sludge.

how it's made:


Santa Cruz nut butters start with harvesting almonds and peanuts from one of their many partner farms. They partner with farms who apply organic compost as fertilizer for their trees because Santa Cruz believes that soil is something one should invest into. Lastly, they package their butters in glass jars, an infinitely recyclable alternative to plastic containers. Unfortunately, beyond this information, I know nothing about how the nut butters are actually made. How are the nuts harvested? What machinery do use?

Nonetheless, what I do know is where their headquarters are located, how they power their business, and their efforts to pursue zero waste.

Santa Cruz Organic is located in Chico, California, where they are powered by renewable energy. They have two Photo Voltaic systems installed on their building which generate 450 kilowatts of energy. In total, this on-site renewable energy source supplies 25% of their energy needs. To supplement the other 75% of their energy needs, they purchase wind Renewable Energy Credits from Green-e, a renewable energy corporation that invests in and sells other corporations or entities renewable energy.

Santa Cruz also strives to tackle their waste output as they recycle over 95% of their waste. They have been awarded the platinum level Zero Waste certification (the highest) from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council because they divert 99% of waste from landfills, incineration and the environment. My only concern is, if “waste” includes the product packaging, how does Santa Cruz Organics measure if the jars are recycled? As with any product that we purchase, corporations can boast that their packaging is recyclable, however, it is ultimately up to the consumer whether or not they recycle it. It feels like there may be some greenwashing of numbers here as Santa Cruz can never really know what percentage of their jars are recycled unless they have actually conducted reserach on this or go to landfill and recycling centers to count how many jars have been recycled vs. thrown into the trash.

The Zero waste Business Certification requires businesses to have a Zero Waste goal and reduce their waste to landfill, incineration or the environment by 90% or more. Included in the Zero Waste definition is that all discarded materials are resources, resources should not be burned or buried, and the goal is zero air, water and land emissions. They also call on businesses to commit to creating improvements of at least 1% reduction from their landfill residue per year or to address other Zero Waste Business Principles.

Although I had apprehensions at first when this certification first requirement was to have a Zero Waste “goal” as anyone can have a goal. However, I really appreciate the thought behind their zero waste definition being a living document, and that there is accountability in being certified- companies must set yearly reduction goals and submit a summary and data on their initiatives to be published annually in order to maintain their recognition. All certifications should require yearly progress reports and intentional goals to ensure that companies are not only meeting waste reduction standards, but are being proactive in finding ways to further reduce their waste. My two disappointment are 1. I was unable to find these documents with Santa Cruz’s yearly goals that should be available to the public. 2. Do zero waste and recycling calculations include the packaging for products Santa Cruz Organic is selling. I have emailed this company to ask about critical questions such as these because only through investigation and putting. pressure on corporations, can we prevent greenwashing from occurring and instead call on them to provide consumers with transparency on their waste outputs.

who makes it:


Santa Cruz Organic has partnered with Kyle Mathison from Stemilt Farms for over ten years becasue their family believe that their “world-famous compost” is the key to rich soil that leads to yielding high quality and great tasting crops. They were the first juice processor to use all organic fruit, showcasing their commitment to more sustainable practices from the start. My review on Straus Creamery also stated they were the “first organic dairy producers.” Is California really boasting all of the nations organic “firsts”? Before pesticides were developed, farmers were “organic” because no one used synthetic pesticides. However, brands like Santa Cruz Organics get to now claim title to being the first “organic” juice company because they were the first certified organic company to do so. In reality there may have been juice producers who grew fruit without synthetic pesticides, but were not certified organic.

In addition to Stemilt Farms, Santa Cruz Organic selects other organic growers to partner with to supply their products-- they do not grow their own.

Nonetheless, although there is no disclosure on where the farms and the nut butter manufacturing plants are located, we can appreciate that the farms are located in the U.S. and helping to add to our domestic organic produce output. This is especially important because currently, the U.S. organic food market surpassed $45 billion in sales in 2017, according to the Organic Trade Association, a six percent increase over the prior year and more than double the sales a decade ago. Organic acreage in the U.S. increased by 20 percent between 2011 and 2018, according to Mercaris, and now totals over 5 million acres of land-- yet, this is less than 1% of the country’s total farmland. Because the U.S. demands outweigh our supply, we imported more than $2 billion in organic food in 2017. Thus, because all Santa Cruz Organic products are produced in manufacturing facilities in the USA, this slightly reduces aviation mileage and emissions in comparison to importing an internationally manufactured nut butter.