• Who designed your site?

  • Kim Hager-Buchan

  • Do you do parties?

  • Yes! Parties, corporate luncheons, non-profit galas and fundraisers are our main gig. Our other repertoire includes New Year's parties, designer trunk sales, cocktail parties, special birthdays, dinner parties, weddings, anniversaries, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. References available upon request.

  • What exactly is sustainability?

  • Sustainability is a "means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in a very long term. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire planet." (from wikipedia.org) The Brundtland Report, issued in 1987 by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, defines sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The UN 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development expanded this definition by identifying the "three overarching objectives of sustainable development" to be (1) eradicating poverty, (2) protecting natural resources, and (3) changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns. In recent years, ecologists working for the UN have created a "sustainability index" to measure human consumptive activity, which expresses as a ratio comparing the amount of life-supporting energy yielded from a given activity with the amount of load or toll taken by environmental resources to create that energy.

    Many ecologists believe the term "sustainable development" to be a misrepresentation, citing that the goal of sustainability is not necessarily economic development, but quality of life. Some recent conclusions of the UN's work on sustainability have predicted that 5 to 6 back-up planets would have to devote all resources solely to agriculture in order for the earth to exist as it currently does for seven generations to come. Since we have not yet secured 5 to 6 back-up planets, many ecologists see us as on a path toward collapse of current civilization. These same ecologists view the phenomenon of resistance to change, and not awareness of a problem, to be the primary barrier to achieving sustainability. Many believe the solution to sustainability not to be the specific, "correct" technical changes necessary to bring about the continuance of our species, but the release of resistance among people, corporations, and nations, to adopt those changes en masse.

    One area of great impact on sustainability is food consumption. Eating a diet primarily consisting of fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables and fruits creates sustainability in myriad ways, among them reduction in the global warming compounds CO2, nitrogen and methane, generated during inorganic agriculture and meat production, but also a reduction in the amount of energy required to bring food to the table. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, scientists are more interested in how often--not whether--people eat animal foods. And much of their research points to the same conclusion: Americans should eat fewer animal foods and more plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

    Why? Here are 7 reasons--some related to health, some not-- adpapted from Center for Science in the Public Interest {with Large Marge's editorial comments in brackets}.

    1. Cancer. "The science base is very strong that fruits and vegetables are protective for all the gastrointestinal cancers and all the smoking-related cancers," says Tim Byers, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Says Lawrence Kushi of the University of Minnesota, "the evidence is quite consistent that red meat is associated with a higher risk of colon--and possibly prostate--cancer."

    2. Heart Disease. "A plant-based diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease," says Byers. For the last 20 years, heart experts have emphasized cutting saturated fat and cholesterol, but plants may protect the heart in other ways, among them, antioxidants, fiber, and folic acids.

    3. Stroke. "There's a lot of evidence that fruits and vegetables are beneficial for reducing the risk of stroke," says Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

    4. Safer Food. Some of the deadliest foodborne illnesses enter the body via animal foods. "Ground beef is the most likely source of E. coli O157:H7" says David Swerdlow of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Any raw food--including fruits or vegetables--can carry harmful bacteria. "For example, recent outbreaks of Salmonella have been associated with cantaloupe, tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts," says Swerdlow {Not to mention E. coli-carrying spinach}. But meat, seafood, and poultry are the most likely culprits in foodborne illness.

    5. The Environment.
    "Our eating habits have a tremendous effect on the planet," says David Jenkins, an expert at the University of Toronto. Eating animals wouldn't harm the environment if it were done on a much smaller scale, explains Alan Durning, director of Northwest Environment Watch in Seattle. "Modern meat production involves intensive use--and often misuse--of grain, water, energy, and grazing areas." For example, says Durning:

    • Water pollution. The manure and sewage from stockyards, chicken factories, and other feeding facilities can pollute water supplies.

    • Air pollution. "Thirty million tons of methane--a gas that contributes to global warming--come from manure in sewage ponds or heaps."

    • Soil erosion. Nearly 40 percent of the world's--and more than 70 percent of U.S.--grain production is fed to livestock. "For each pound of meat, poultry, eggs, and milk we produce, farm fields lose about five pounds of topsoil."

    • Water depletion. An estimated half of the grain and hay that's fed to beef cattle is grown on irrigated land. "It takes about 390 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef."

    • Energy use. "It takes almost ten times more energy to produce and transport livestock than vegetables." {According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, accounting for the energy used in production and transportation, expressed in calories, it takes roughly: 1600 calories of energy to put 100 calories of meat on your table; 500 calories to get 100 calories worth of chicken or pork in your mouth; by contrast, it takes only 50 calories to fill your table with 100 calories worth of fruits and vegetables.}

    • Overgrazing. "About ten percent of the arid West has been turned into a desert by livestock." But some of that land couldn't be used for much else. "That's why my argument isn't for vegetarianism, but for people to reduce the consumption of animal products," says Durning.

    6. Animal Welfare. It's unpleasant to think about, but before we slaughter them, the animals we eat are often raised and transported under inhumane conditions. {For instance, most animals raised in inorganic, corporate farming environments (i.e. most of the animals supplied to restaurants and chain grocers) have appendages such as beaks, tails, claws, hooves, etc., heat-seared, cut, or chopped off without benefit of anesthetic, mostly to stop them from acting out in ways that lessen their market value due to boredom and claustrophobia (for instance, pecking at each other, which encourages disease, inherent to animals and feces in close quarters, to metastasize. Think of suddenly cutting your dog's tail off with scissors because it annoyingly swats you, and you get the general idea. Visit www.compassionatecooks.com and listen to the February 2007 podcast for more information on abuse in animal agriculture}.

    7. Taste. "My number one reason for eating a plant-rich diet is that it tastes good," says Marion Nestle, chair of the nutrition department at New York University. "I feel deprived if my meal doesn't have lots of vegetables in it." {In contrast, I urge you to try eating a whole roasted chicken, with the skin, which is the most flavorful part, and really pay attention to the way the meat tastes. Any chicken you eat today is likely no more than 9 months old, tops, more like 3 - 6 months old. Those 9 months tops are spent mostly without moving at all due to living on top of other birds, and eating massive amounts of feed to attain marketability as fast as possible. Imagine being fed a full Thanksgiving dinner seated on a couch with at least 30 other baby people every day from birth for 9 months without ever moving off the couch. Would you taste good? A non-corporate-agriculture chicken would live to approximately age 12 naturally. Those years of free-range muscle movement impart flavor you will never experience because chicken purveyors profit more from selling you birds as quickly as possible. The high environmental and health costs of eating corporate chicken are not worth the bland taste of chicken that has hardly lived. Today's typical chicken is tender but tasteless. I brine my chicken, if I make it, and serve it with sauce and vegetables to get it to taste like anything. Go for wild mushrooms like shiitakes, oysters, maitakes, fresh porcini if you can find them (or dried - easier to find), or portobellos, for a rich, meaty taste instead. Or try any fresh, organic raw fruit or roasted vegetable from your local farmer's market and I will personally give you a full refund for whatever you buy if it doesn't make you wonder why you've never tried it before.}

    Further reading:

    (this British website gives you a chart of areas in your personal life where you can practice sustainability and links to info on how to practice in each area.)
    (this website gives you personal tips to reduction in daily energy consumption, including the following:

    • using compact flourescent lightbulbs
    • adjusting your thermostat and weather-proofing your home for energy efficiency
    • using less hot water and electricity
    • sustainably addressing your transportation needs
    • buying carbon offsets that pay for green power development
    • buying locally grown and fresh, not frozen, organic, unprocessed food (process it yourself, it tastes better!)

    (and click on "The Markets" menu tab - a list of Southern California Certified Farmers Markets - there are at least 3 on every day of the week!)
    (a list of the best and worst seafood choices)