The hands on the wall clock slowly dragged past 9:30 p.m. last July 11 at the Fairfax Women’s Club. Linda Kelly, manager of this town known for progressive thought, had just read aloud Ordinance No. 722, requiring all grocery stores, food sellers and other retailers to use compostable plastic, recyclable paper and/or reusable checkout bags. Could this be done? “Yes!” said Mark Squire, founder and co-owner of Good Earth Natural Foods. In fact, Good Earth had already started its own campaign against plastics—no surprise for for a green-certified business that uses wind and solar energy and forgoes use of harsh chemicals.
Good Earth Natural Foods originally opened its doors at 123 Bolinas Avenue in 1969 and has been a model for health-conscious grocers ever since. Squire is well known for his involvement in creating California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a third-party organic certification program. With co-owner Al Baylacq, he also helped launch the Good Earth School Hot Lunch Program, which serves about 4,000 all-organic lunches a week at seven Marin schools, using no plastic packaging and distributing via a fleet of biodiesel vans.
For Baylacq, who was involved in Good Earth’s move and expansion to its current location on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, a long-held dream of a true community food store has come true. “The partnership we have with this community at so many levels is unlike any imaginable,” he says. “Our knowledgeable staff has contributed to our success in this great town. We all take our work very seriously, knowing the origins of the foods we sell, and yet we all seem to have fun while doing it. Our customers, old and new, sense that energy when they walk in and have come to trust our integrity.”
Squire also credits the community for this success. “Good Earth has been lucky to be part of one of the great environmental success stories, the organic food movement, which has demonstrated that great food can be produced without using the poisons of conventional agriculture. We are proud to be part of a community that understood and supported us in this effort all these years.”