Green Living Magazine - December 2023

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your conscious life



Her journey from political analyst to acclaimed chef and Emmynominated TV host

Real vs. Fake?

The complicated debate behind which Christmas tree is more sustainable

Reconsider Glitter

Eco-friendly options for your New Year’s Eve look

US $4.99

Green Living Magazine 13845 N Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85254

A Life-Changing

Soaking Experience Investing in Your Health by Tanner Graham

Each new day gifts us 1,440 minutes to spend, and how we choose to allocate these minutes profoundly impacts our health and well-being. For many of us, a significant portion of these minutes is already claimed by work, sleep, family responsibilities, and prior commitments, leaving little time for self-care. Nevertheless, two essential activities we should prioritize every day are maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise. These simple practices are key to a happier and healthier life. But today, we’d like to introduce you to an innovative tool that can help accelerate your journey towards better health – the Genesis series H.D.O soaking tub by Pneuma Industries. The Genesis series comprises individual soaking tubs equipped with Pneuma Industries & patented Hyper Dissolved Oxygen (H.D.O) system. This cutting-edge technology offers a soaking experience unlike any other. Immersing yourself in a Genesis tub saturates your body with an abundance of oxygen, similar to a hyperbaric chamber but without the constraints of limited space or added pressure on your body.

The benefits of increased oxygen levels in the body have been extensively studied and well-documented for years, including improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation and swelling, and enhanced recovery. However, harnessing these benefits has historically been challenging and inconvenient. The Genesis tub simplifies the process by making these benefits readily available through a daily soak lasting just 25 to 60 minutes. The Genesis series includes two models: the soaking tub and the cold plunge. Both versions feature a user-friendly top-side controller that allows for personalized soaking experiences. The cold plunge version offers a wide range of temperature control, ranging from 38 to 104 degrees. With oversized filtration, medical-grade oxygen concentrators, H.D.O technology, and durable construction, the Genesis series is a tub ahead of its time. Is it worth the investment? Do those precious remaining free minutes in your day justify the cost of a soak in a Genesis tub? According to those who have experienced this one-ofa-kind opportunity, the answer is a resounding yes! For more information, please contact us at or give us a call at 480-714-2281.

Got Hyper-Dissolved Oxygen? Visit to learn more! Call today at 480-714-2281


December 2023 GOOD

14 Wiggle Room

Arizona Worm Farm helps chart a path to a more sustainable future


18 Healthy Holiday Habits

Nourishing your well-being during the festive season


20 All That Glitters

Up the sparkle this New Year's Eve with ecofriendly glitter


22 Real vs. Fake

Which Christmas trees are the greenest?


38 Sweet Treats 40 Cheers to the Holidays

Holiday desserts from around the world Host(ess) gift wines that will wow all season long



44 Supporting Acts

A side, a sauce, and a cocktail


48 Sip, Savor, and Soar

A journey through Buellton in the California wine country


24 28 On Gossamer Wings Chef Pati Jinich 32 Caught in the Act

Luxury brand Piper & Skye creates ethically minded handbags using non-traditional leathers Mariposario Jardin Mágico protects Mexico's native butterflies in Puerto Vallarta James Beard Award-winning chef and Emmynominated TV host creates connections to culture through food ABOUT THE COVER: Chef Pati Jinich shines as she shares her culture and food with a nationwide audience. Photo courtesy of Pati Jinich.

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Editor’s Letter Contributors On the Web Trending Green Event Recap Cool Outrageous Stuff She's Green/He's Green Green Scenes




Dear Readers, Where does the time go? As I write this at the beginning of December, there's a half-decorated Christmas tree in my living room, a partial list of gifts for various family members stored in the notes section of my phone, and a gorgeous little festival of twinkling lights that takes place every night in my quiet little Phoenix neighborhood — yet I’ve only just now been jolted awake to the fact that the year is almost over. I’d blame it on tryptophaninduced daydreams caused by mountains of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but my family’s holiday meal was spent in an eerily quiet hospital cafeteria. I’ll concede that my loosened grip on reality is most likely caused by weeks spent traveling only to and from an ICU hospital room to visit my dad, who decided to end the year by giving us all a really good scare. I’m sharing this because when I debated back and forth for days about what to write in this little space of mine — where I’m supposed to pen inspiring words that reflect the spirit of the season — I started again and again, and each of those letters went straight to the trash, all contrived and likely a carbon copy of what some other editor had written in the past. So I’ll just say what’s on my mind and heart: family. Spending Thanksgiving dinner in a hospital cafeteria didn’t matter to me. Our family was together, supporting my dad when he needed us most. In times of strength and weakness — whether biological or chosen — family is what matters. I’m talking about the people who are your rocks — your ride-or-die humans that lift you up and allow you to show up for them in equal measure, those who you simply cannot live without. I know that without my family, this past year would have looked much different.

Jennifer and John Burkhart, writers This dynamic duo has been reviewing products since 2010. Even though they are raising a family and living the green lifestyle in Oregon, Arizona will always hold a special place in their hearts.

In 2023, I navigated a new job (and have officially produced a full year of issues for Green Living); up-leveled my own mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being with the help of an incredible coach; found my footing in a new neighborhood and home; tended to a 13-year old dog recovering from ACL surgery (IYKYK), and as mentioned, along with my unwavering family, saw my dad through a truly terrifying health scare. Each of these scenarios contained unknown elements and outcomes that proved to be unnerving at times, but the support and encouragement from my family made this year not only bearable, but gratifying. Each month, as the new Green Living was released, my parents would call or text to express excitement over their favorite pieces of content. I’m not ashamed to admit that even now, in my 40s, their encouragement still means the world to me. And it goes without saying that this 2023 adventure of mine would have been a helluva lot harder without my husband’s support (thanks, babe). Even when I space out and lose track of time, they’re still the gifts I’m most grateful for. As we get ready to close out 2023, I hope that you’re surrounded by your most favorite loved ones, and that you can hold them close and create lasting memories that make your heart swell and fill your soul with joy and love. It’s the experiences we share with our people that are the truest gifts all year round. Whatever you're celebrating this holiday season, may it be everything you want it to be, with the people with whom you want to share it. Thanks for reading,

Shelby Tuttle Managing Editor

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Angela Fairhurst, writer Angela Fairhurst is a non-fiction television producer and travel journalist whose work has been featured in Matador Network, Southern California Life Magazine, Gio Journal, and on her own site, Jaunt TV — which includes a bevy of exciting videos. She has a knack for writing about luxury hotels and luxury hotel bathrooms, but is well-versed in living green, from the jungles of Costa Rica to wine tasting in the Land Down Under. Follow her on Instagram @jaunttv.

your conscious life



Dorie Morales Shelby Tuttle Rebecca Rhoades Jordan Gerard Sly Panda Design Erin Wilson Brett Prince

CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer Burkhart John Burkhart Alison Bailin Batz Angela Fairhurst

Michelle Talsma Everson Misty Milioto Beth Weitzman

INTERNS Melat Alebachew Yula Armstrong



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480.840.1589 • 13845 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste. 201, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 Please recycle this magazine Green Living magazine is a monthly publication by Traditional Media Group, LLC. Periodical rate postage paid at Scottsdale, AZ. Publisher assumes no responsibility for contributed manuscripts, editorial content, claims, reviews, photographs, artwork or advertisements. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the company or official policies. Entire contents © 2022 Traditional Media Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of content in any manner without permission by the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed columns and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Submissions will not be returned unless arranged to do so in writing. One print subscription is $25 per year or digital subscription is $12 per year. Canadian orders please add $13 per year for shipping and handling. International orders add $22 per year for shipping and handling. Bulk and/or corporate rates available. No representation is made as to the accuracy hereof and is printed subject to errors and omissions.





This month on and social media. /greenlivingazmag







The Role of Probiotic Supplements in Gut Health

Mercury in Fish: How Did It Get There?

Navigating the Cold and Flu Season and Boosting Immunity

Many people in the medical and wellness industries are focusing on gut health. It has become a strong contender behind such things as weight loss and overall physical wellness. We take a deep dive into the world of probiotics to explore their consistent role in your overall health.

Over the past several decades, there has been a growing awareness of mercury in commercially available fish. In fact, mercury levels have climbed 30% in the last 20 years in the Northern Pacific alone. However, little thought is given to how the mercury ended up in the water in the first place.

As the chill of winter descends upon us, so does the annual cold and flu season. Add to that the persistent threat of COVID-19, and immune boosting techniques are as important as ever. Check out our online exclusive for tips and tricks to stay healthy this winter.



Green Living attended Urban Farming Education’s Fundraiser Night. The night featured amazing food, interactive demos, and a Kawambe-Omowale African Drum & Dance performance!

Green Living attended Child Crisis Arizona’s annual “Lunch for Love” at The Arizona Biltmore Resort. The non-profit welcomed nearly 400 guests and raised more than $850,000 during the luncheon.

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BRING WELLNESS INTO THE DESIGN Livable Luxury that Enriches Your Healthy Lifestyle

Discover what a WELL Designed™ home looks like for you | 480-275-2968

We Design Luxury Homes that Cultivate Wellness



A New Book from the ‘Rock Stars’ of Small Scale Farming Published last month, Jean-Martin Fortier and Catherine Sylvestre’s book, The Winter Market Gardener, provides gardeners with a year-round guide to vegetable production. The book is based on years of experimentation in techniques, tools, and cultivars, and it presents planting, care, and harvesting details for dozens of winter crops.

bp Boosts Renewable Energy Production in Indiana bp has completed a major technology upgrade at its Fowler Ridge 1 wind farm in Northwest Indiana that will enable the site to produce more power, more efficiently. The new turbines are expected to produce up to 40% more energy — an average of 314,000 kilowatt-hours each year, or enough renewable electricity to power about 27,000 homes.

MICHELIN Green Star PRU Premieres Inside-Out Gastronomy Experience PRU, a sustainable fine dining restaurant and the first in Thailand ever to receive the prestigious MICHELIN Green Star award, has developed an “Inside-Out” experience, housed in a new purpose-built restaurant with an open kitchen that encourages connections with guests and allows diners to see how each dish is prepared.

Ritz-Carlton Presents JeanMichel Cousteau with Lifetime Achievement Award On November 11, Jean-Michel Cousteau received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ritz-Carlton brand for his contributions to ocean conservation. As president and CEO of Ocean Futures Society, Cousteau has spent over seven decades working on behalf of the planet’s oceans and inspiring others to protect and conserve marine life.

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North American Companies at Greatest Risk of Violating UN Environmental Standards ESG Book, a global leader in sustainability data and technology, released new research showing that companies in the United States and Canada are three times more likely to risk violating United Nations environmental standards compared to other regions worldwide.



Green Living and Copenhagen Furniture Partner to Support Urban Farming Education Green Living and Copenhagen Furniture raised more than $1,000 for nonprofit beneficiary Urban Farming Education at the Align & Design: Creating Your Sustainable Home event on Oct. 18 at Copenhagen's Santan Village Pkwy. location in Gilbert. Urban Farming Education is a Phoenix-based organization that helps people grow their own food, supported by a network of community gardens. This model assists in providing food sovereignty through a network of communal help. The process of gardening, also known as “ecotherapy,” can provide physical, mental, or developmental benefits, and is essential for all of the nonprofit’s focus groups: schools, people with disabilities, homeless people, the elderly, and those in foster care. At the event, five local business owners and professionals shared their expertise and insights on sustainability in the design industry. Presenters included Marlene Imirzian of Marlene Imirzian & Associates; Dig Studio’s landscape architects Brandon Sobiech and Chad Atterbury; Jesse Westad, principal at WERK Urban Design; and Michael Geyer, president of Exceptional Water Systems. Gilbert Mayor Brigette Peterson also attended and took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that signified the two-year anniversary of Copenhagen’s Gilbert store opening. Keith Watts, Allie Geyer, and Mike McMahon

Jesse Westad of WERK I urban design



CoolOUTRAGEOUS Stuff A Few of Our Favorite Things

To cap the year off right, we’ve compiled an extended list of our favorite things — some practical and some magical — that we’re either gifting or hoping to receive this holiday season.

SALTVERK A luxe upgrade to any home chef’s pantry, SALTVERK hand-harvested sea salt from Iceland beautifully accents various meat, seafood, and side dishes, and even elevates margaritas and martinis. The line includes a pure flaky sea salt and five flavored blends: Lava (infused with activated charcoal), Birch Smoked, Arctic Thyme, Seaweed, and Licorice. Saltverk's 18th century production process uses only pristine seawater from Iceland's remote Westfjords, while 100% geothermal energy is used to produce the sea salt, leaving behind zero carbon footprint. This unique production process allows SALTVERK to retain all of its natural minerals which give the salts an unmatched umami flavor. If you’re not quite sure how to incorporate these fancy flavor bombs into your everyday cooking, the company’s website provides a plethora of unique and approachable recipes (along with gorgeous photos) to spark your creativity. As an added bonus, the mineral salts left over from SALTVERK’s production process are utilized by founder Björn Jónsson’s wife, Iris Laxdal, for her sustainable skincare line, Angan.

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Navitas Organics Organic Cacao Powder Give yourself or a loved one the gift of better health this holiday season with Fairtrade certified cacao from Navitas Organics. Cacao has been used as medicine for centuries by the Aztec and Mayan peoples and is revered for its energy and mood-boosting properties, thanks to it being a rich source of magnesium and theobromine. It’s also majorly high in antioxidants (over 40 times that of blueberries) and is the highest plant-based source of iron known to man. Add it to a cup of plant-based milk in the morning or for a comforting night cap, or swap it one-forone in place of unsweetened cocoa for a more nutritious take on your favorite recipes. In addition to being Fairtrade, we like Navitas Organics cacao powder because it’s B Corp certified, Regenerative Organic Certified (Silver level), NonGMO, and, of course, organic. For the ultimate combination of superfood stress reduction, check out the brand’s all-organic Stress Reducer Bundle, composed of Cacao Powder, Maca Powder, Turmeric Powder, and Superfood + Adaptogen Blend.

Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights Install your holiday lighting in a snap with Govee Permanent Outdoor Lights. Cuttable, customizable lights install across eaves and overhangs in seconds with a combination of clips and VHB (Very High Bond) adhesive. We love the Pro model, which allows you to control each light individually with the Govee Home App that integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls. Users can customize each bulb with one of 16 million colors and 75 pre-set modes. When the holiday season has come to an end, lights can be programmed for the accent or daily lighting scheme that works best for your home.

Peppermint Jim Essential Oils A company founded on simple farming practices, owner James A. Crosby, better known as Peppermint Jim, is a fourth generation descendant of mint farmers that began in 1912 in St. Johns, Mich. With a need to have a fully operational farm year round, Peppermint Jim expanded his family’s operations to Tucson, Ariz. in 2011. Despite the arid desert climate, Jim and his team have developed multiple methods of sustainable production to grow three varieties of true, oil-producing mint: Black Mitchum Peppermint, Murray Peppermint, and Native Spearmint. As is tradition in his family, Jim is involved in every step of the distillation process, beginning when the mint is harvested. Extracted through steam distillation, the 100% pure medicinal oils are sold at various farmers markets, expos, and online. While Peppermint Jim’s essential oils are world-class, a variety of body care essentials, candles, and bundles of fresh mint can be purchased, as well.

Dazzle Dry When it comes to nail products, finding polishes that are good for your nails can be a tricky business. If you’re someone who likes to keep their fingers and toes freshly painted, polishes that are free of formaldehyde, toluene, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde resin are a must, since these ingredients can be absorbed into our bodies directly through our nail beds. Dazzle Dry is not only free of the five worst nail polish ingredient offenders, it’s also free of nitrocellulose, which is what can turn your nails yellow after multiple applications. It’s also cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, and vegan. The bonus? This stuff lasts (our editor managed to keep hers on for nearly three weeks with minimal chipping). It also dries in just five minutes and sets without a UV lamp, making it a much healthier alternative for your skin than gel nails. The Arizona-based company offers a starter kit with a variety of lacquer colors to create the perfect manicure at home: Nail Prep, Base Coat, Nail Lacquer, Top Coat, and Revive — a thinning agent to restore the consistency of lacquers that may thicken over time. Don’t want to do your nails at home? Dazzle Dry is also carried in several upscale salons and spas throughout Arizona, including The Arizona Biltmore, Civana Wellness Resort & Spa, and Pampr’d Soul in Scottsdale, which is certified in the Dazzle Dry application process.



Rocketbook’s Reusable Notebooks Upgrade your notebooks with a reusable Rocketbook. Instead of paper, the sheets are similar to a whiteboard. Using Pilot Frixion pens, markers, or highlighters in a fun array of colors, jot down ideas on any of the ready-made pages, including lined and dotted pages, a calendar page, to-do lists, and other organizational formats. Use the app to take a picture of the page and upload it to your favorite cloud accounts or save it on the Rocketbook app. The app can also transcribe handwritten notes into a typed document. Then easily wipe the pages clean and start anew. Rocketbook offers notebooks, planners, loose-leaf binder sheets, graphing books, and more. The product got its start on Shark Tank from Massachusetts-based founder Joe Lemay and his friend, engineer Jake Epstein. Though their original goal was merging technology and traditional note taking, the sustainability aspect couldn’t be ignored. Rocketbooks are made from partially recycled materials, and every piece of a Rocketbook is recyclable. The company is constantly working to improve its sustainability goals, such as offering better packaging and finding a way to refill pens without buying new ones.

Lumineux Teeth Whitening System Start the New Year off right with a whiter smile courtesy of Lumineux, one of the first certified non-toxic oral care product lines on the market. Over 60 studies — all independent, double-blind, and mostly university-led — have been done on the efficacy and non-toxicity of the company’s products. Using ingredients like Dead Sea salt and essential oils, the products are Microbiome Safe — including everything in Lumineux’s Whitening Kit. The four-piece set includes a bamboo toothbrush, whitening toothpaste and mouthwash, and the company’s coveted Whitening Strips, known for creating brighter, whiter teeth without the usual sensitivity.

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True Tea A celebration of the rich traditions and medicinal benefits of tea, True Tea is on a mission to educate others about the superiority of loose leaf tea, advocating for a major transition from traditional tea bags to loose leaf tea for a more sustainable approach, helping to eliminate harmful microplastics from our bodies and the environment. The company prioritizes working with farms that empower women and cultivate equitable visions of agriculture, in addition to promoting sustainable farming practices. Through their personal relationships with small-scale producers, True Tea establishes a direct and sustainable path to a true farm-to-cup sipping experience. We like the Luscious Herbal set containing four caffeine-free teas: the Renew Blend, True Tea’s potent-yet-delicious medicinal herbal tea intended to rejuvenate and nourish with spearmint and Ashwaganda; Indigo Dream, a perfectly delicate blend of blueberry, lemon, lavender, and blue vervain to calm the nervous system and diminish stress; Tulsi, made with organic lemon balm and holy basil to reduce inflammation; and Hibiscus, composed of rose petal, anise hyssop, and hibiscus to relieve cold symptoms.

PackIt Freezable Lunch Boxes Forgot the ice pack for your lunch box? Not anymore with freezable, reusable lunch boxes from PackIt. These lunch boxes are collapsible and fit in the smallest corners of your freezer. Simply let the built-in ice pack freeze overnight, then unfold it in the morning, pack your food, and let the lunch box keep it fresh all day. PackIt eliminates the need for ice packs that only last a few hours outside of the freezer, as well as the need for single-use lunch bags. PackIt also carries foldable, freezable lunch bags, bento boxes, baby bottle cooler bags, and can cooler bags that are all BPA free.

Shiki Wrap Skip the scissors, lose the tape, and ditch the traditional wrapping paper for a gift wrap that’s sustainable and reusable year after year. Shiki Wrap is made from recyclable plastic fibers sourced in North Carolina, woven into beautiful designs perfect for any occasion. The manufacturing process is less water-intensive and uses no harmful chemicals. The concept comes from Japan, where wrapping gifts with textiles dates back to the eighth century. Wraps come in three sizes: 18-, 28-, and 36-inch squares. Shiki Wrap is also developing reusable gift bags, handles to transform wraps into bags, clips for tags, and other accessories. With normal use, a single wrap will last at least 100 times longer than normal wrapping paper or even eco-conscious wrapping paper, and the wraps are machine washable. If you’re not sure how best to use them, the company provides helpful videos on how to wrap your gifts using their product.




Wiggle Room Arizona Worm Farm helps Phoenix chart path to more sustainable future BY JORDAN GERARD AND EVAN COVERT


Three million red wiggler worms are wiggling away at work on the Arizona Worm Farm in South Phoenix — feasting on 300 cubic yards of waste a week, turning it into fertilized soil and helping to complete a waste-to-nutrient cycle that benefits produce gardens and their tenders. This is the process of vermicomposting — feeding scraps to worms and turning it into available food for plants. For owner Zach Brooks and his family, the worms contribute to their goal of becoming a completely self-sustaining, off-grid farm that supports them and others who want healthier soil and produce in their gardens. Currently, the Arizona Worm Farm (one of the largest worm farms in the U.S.) raises and breeds about 100,000 worms a week to help with processes on the farm itself, and to be sold to customers who utilize worms in their gardens at home. Farming wasn’t on Brooks’ radar until he returned to Arizona State University for a masters degree in sustainability in 2010, after he semi-retired from a

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successful career in management. The program didn’t satisfy him though, as he realized people talked about solutions, but they were only theorized and hypothetical. In December 2016, Brooks bought 10 acres of land in South Phoenix that originally produced cotton. In 2018, he waited for the final cotton crop to be harvested and obtained the necessary permits to start his worm farm. Brooks and his family learned how to vermicompost and run the farm through the vermiculture program at North Carolina State University. As additional research, Brooks visited just

over a dozen worm farms in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. From there, the family developed their own plan with the help of entomologists who helped them determine the best way to grow worms in our climate. Brooks explains that a safe temperature for the worms is between 30 degrees to 90 degrees, and the ground in which the worms reside is insulated from the 110 degree-plus days because it stays below our nighttime temperatures. THE WORLD OF WORMS Red wiggler worms provide a natural, chemical-free way to break down waste and fertilize soil. They help yield higher productivity, decrease plant disease, and lower pest incidents. Worms won’t eat healthy living plants or roots — they really only want the decaying organic material. They're also self-limiting creatures, so there’s no need to worry about worms overpopulating the garden. The worms also help create soil amendments known as vermicomposting, worm castings, and worm compost tea. These are natural products that commercial fertilizers can’t compare to, and they’re easier to maintain, Brooks said. The farm employs a waste-tonutrient circular process, in which food and landscape waste comes from local partners, which is then fed to the worms. The worms and larvae feast on the waste and turn it into high-protein feed and fertilizer. Organic worm castings repel pests, help plants grow, and absorb nutrients under challenging conditions. They provide healthy bacteria that enriches soil to create a more sustainable fertilizer. The farm produces these castings in “wedges,” where nearly 10,000 worms are fed a weekly dose of between one and two inches of compost. The worms feed on the compost and eat through the wedge to leave behind castings, which are then harvested and boxed fresh every day for customers. Adding worm compost tea to garden soil promotes plant strength, treats mild deficiencies, fights pests, inhibits disease, and reduces plant shock. The farm combines fresh castings, compost, humic acid, kelp meal, and their own BSFL Nutrient Plus to create

the tea. It’s suspended in pure well water and air is pumped into it for 24 hours, which allows microbes to reproduce quickly. The tea is for sale at the farm on Fridays and Saturdays only, although a seasonal mobile tea spray service is also offered. Without worms, food waste that is buried in the ground produces methane gas, plus, all of the resources that went into creating that food goes to waste if it’s not reused. Worms are a way to capture all of that resource and reuse it completely. It isn’t a new farming practice, Brooks notes, but it’s returning to the way farming used to be done. “We take waste out of the landfill so it’s not being buried, and we reuse it efficiently and effectively so that it can help people grow food,” he explained.

Photos by Sam Potter

FARMING POSITIVELY The farm includes two fully sustainable homes, one being a tiny home, occupied by Brooks and his extended family. There’s a jungle gym and multiple shaded areas where his grandchildren can play just steps away from a food forest that is home to 118 varieties of trees that ensure there is something producing fruit every day of the year. This way of living is what he wants to teach his children and what he wants to leave behind for his five grandkids. “If we don’t change our trajectory, they will be unable to have the same lifestyle that we have today, and that seems to me to be a bit unfair,” he said. “My favorite DECEMBER 2023


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quote is a Native American quote that says you don’t inherit the land from your fathers, you borrow it from your children.” He estimates that about 10 families could live on the property and live completely off the food that is produced on its 10 acres without the need for any external produce, apart from chocolate and coffee, perhaps.

beginning gardeners and fruit tree growers to aspiring vermicomposters, a team of Arizona gardeners and vermicomposting experts teach classes and are happy to help educate curious eco-nerds on waste reduction techniques, carbon capture in soil, and regenerative agriculture. For beginners, their classes focus on how to reduce the cost of gardening, how not to use commercial fertilizers, how to save seeds, and more. Classes often sell out months in advance, Brooks said. “We want to change the paradigm on waste and food growing. We’d like to show people how to do what we’re doing, which is to say, turn your garbage into food,” Brooks notes. “The truth is that a tomato that you pick from your backyard just really tastes significantly better than the one that you buy that was picked in Florida six weeks before it got to your table.” Visitors are welcome at the farm during open hours and can take a self-guided tour or a private tour by a farm employee. The store features goods directly from the farm, including worms, castings, compost, mulch, raised bed mix, vermicomposted tea, veggie transplants, and freshly harvested vegetables.

“I’d like to leave my children with a 10-acre fully sustainable off-the-grid farm that they can use and enjoy for generations to come,” he said. Now halfway through a 10-year plan, the Arizona Worm Farm is about 35-40% to its goal of completely sustainable farming and living. Though they’re waiting on industrial changes, such as electric floaters and tractors, a full fleet of electric vehicles, and a more viable alternative to plastic, Brooks is optimistic it will all come together. He also wants to work with suppliers who use compostable packaging and to add more solar applications.

The farm is located at 8430 S. 19th Ave. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.

“Ideally, we will reach a point where we have no fossil fuels and no plastic and [be] truly zero waste,” he said. “We will then just continue to operate the farm in perpetuity, with sunshine, rainwater, and other people’s garbage.” PAY IT FORWARD The Arizona Worm Farm shares its knowledge with fellow Southwest gardeners, too. From





Healthy Holiday Habits Nourishing your well-being during the festive season BY ANGELA FAIRHURST


The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration. It’s a time for friends and family, gift giving, and delicious feasts. It’s also a time when our health often takes a back seat. With a little mindfulness and planning, our health doesn’t have to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. There’s no reason to wait for New Year’s resolutions — here are some tips for maintaining a healthy and ecofriendly holiday season. MINDFUL EATING


It’s easy to overindulge during the holidays. From decadent desserts to hearty feasts, it’s not hard to overeat. Instead of depriving yourself, practice mindful eating and moderation. Savor each bite, pay attention to your body’s hunger cues, and choose smaller portions. Make healthier versions of your favorite dishes by incorporating organic and locally sourced ingredients, substituting agave or honey for sugar, and olive or avocado oil for butter whenever possible.

Don’t let the festivities disrupt your exercise routine. Make time for physical activity, whether it’s simply a brisk walk, a stretching session, or a family dance-off. Physical activity not only helps maintain your weight but also reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts your immune system.

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STRESS MANAGEMENT The holiday season can be stressful with the demands

of gift shopping, party planning, and family obligations. Make sure to prioritize self-care. Consider relaxation practices such as meditation or spending time in nature to recharge. Reducing stress benefits both mental health and overall well-being. GREENER GIFTING When choosing gifts, think about eco-friendly and sustainable options. Offer experiences such as cooking classes, spa days, or outdoor activities over physical items that may end up in a landfill in the future. If you do opt for tangible gifts, select products made from recycled materials or support local artisans who use sustainable practices. January 12-15, 2024 and Jan 19-21, 2024

HYDRATION AND MODERATION Alcohol is often a big part of holiday celebrations, but excessive drinking can take a toll on your health. Stay hydrated and consider drinking mocktails made from fresh, organic ingredients. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation and never drink and drive. GIVE BACK The holidays are a time for giving, and one of the best ways to nurture your well-being is by helping others. Volunteer at a local charity, donate to a food bank, or participate in environmental initiatives. Giving back spreads holiday cheer and fosters a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

Come join us to tour the Arizona Green House Project and learn about the latest innovations in sustainable design, construction and green products. Modeled after one of Southern Califorina’s historic Case Study homes the Arizona Green House is an all-sustainable home, creating its own power, capturing its own water, even growing its own food - truly a unique opportunity to learn how to “Build Green - Save Green”. Book your tour now at All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

SLEEP WELL With all the festivities, don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleep recharges the body and mind. Prioritizing a healthy sleep schedule for a wellrested you is the best way to enjoy the holidays and maintain good health. Make choices that support your health and the health of the planet, and you’ll have a holiday season to remember for all the right reasons. half-page ad Green Living Dec 2023.indd 1 DECEMBER 2023


12/6/23 7:45 AM



All That Glitters Up the sparkle quotient this New Year’s Eve with an eco-friendly glitter option BY SHELBY TUTTLE


With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, the excitement of making plans to ring in 2024 is inevitably on our minds. After all, there’s nothing like the prospect of new beginnings to give us something to look forward to — from the venue, to the people we’ll hold close at midnight, the outfit, and, of course the makeup! If you’re a person that favors the sparkly look of glitter to add pizzazz to your evening, you may be surprised to know that those little flecks of joy are actually a major contributor to microplastic pollution.

If you’ve never considered what glitter is made of, it’s generally composed of minute pieces of plastic that are coated with a reflective layer of color. Their miniscule size — often a fraction of a millimeter — allows them to spread far and wide, becoming a burden to our ecosystems. While the effects of such tiny particles may seem negligible, they collect in our soil, rivers and oceans. They are then ingested by fish, sea creatures, and land mammals, making their way into our food chain and creating harmful issues in humans (as well as in the animals, themselves). Research suggests that microplastics can enter the bloodstream and respiratory tract when ingested or inhaled, causing disruption to our digestive, respiratory, endocrine, reproductive, and immune

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systems. In wildlife, glitter can cause a myriad of adverse effects, including reproductive challenges, reduced feeding efficiency, and physical harm. In October, a ban on glitter went into effect in the E.U. as part of a plan to address plastic pollution concerns. The plan – which outlines Europe’s aim to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 – hopes to reduce plastic pellet pollution by 74% by the end of the decade. The ban prohibits the sale of microplastics in consumer products and primarily restricts the use of loose plastic varieties — those which are widely used for cosmetic and crafting purposes. Glitter made from natural, water-soluble, or biodegradable materials is still okay. Here in the

U.S., the FDA banned the use of microplastic beads in toothpaste, cleansers, and exfoliators in 2015 but stopped short of addressing glitter. If you feel your NYE look won’t be complete without the signature sparkle that only glitter can provide, consider a more environmentally friendly option and make sure to do your research. While many brands use biodegradable materials, some also continue to utilize aluminum film (which is not biodegradable) to produce the glitter’s shiny effect. German brand Projekt Glitter is one of them and claims that while they do use aluminum, the metal comprises less than 0.1% of the product. Still, it’s worth considering what happens to the aluminum that’s left behind once that glitter enters our ecosystem. Brands like Natural Earth Paint and Los Angelesbased Submission Beauty, however, are both plantbased and aluminum free — the latter also excludes antimony, a heavy metal often used as a catalyst in the production of plastic. Submission Beauty’s version is made from BioGlitter, which uses cellulose from eucalyptus trees to give the product a naturally iridescent effect. BioGlitter has received TÜV Austria's “OK biodegradable WATER” certification, the highest level of independent certification for fresh water biodegradability in the world and has been developed to biodegrade quickly and safely in the natural environment. Submission Beauty’s glitter is also non-toxic, cruelty-free, allergen-free, and CMR-free — meaning that it doesn’t contain substances known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction.

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So whether it’s for New Year’s Eve or a memorable occasion into 2024, if you’re sussing out glitter options to complete the occasion, make sure to choose an eco-friendly alternative that makes you feel just as good as you look.




Which Christmas Trees Are the Greenest? Experts weigh the pros and cons of real and artificial Christmas trees BY MICHELLE TALSMA EVERSON


For those who celebrate Christmas but want to do so in a truly eco-friendly fashion, it’s an age-old question: Are artificial trees or real trees better for the environment? The answer is more nuanced than it seems.


According to a recent poll from the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA), while 78% of consumers expressed concern about inflation, 94% of

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those surveyed plan to display at least one Christmas tree in their homes this holiday season. Of those consumers displaying at least one Christmas tree, nearly 77% will choose to decorate with an artificial tree, while just 23% will display a live Christmas tree this year.

According to the poll, 65% of consumers listed easy set-up and take-down, as well as consistent appearance, as reasons for displaying an artificial tree, while 49% listed easy maintenance as a primary rationale. “Fifty-six percent of artificial Christmas tree owners also feel there are long-term cost savings when owning an artificial Christmas tree,” cites the ACTA. Puleo International is a fourth-generation family-owned manufacturer and distributor of hand-crafted artificial Christmas trees and home décor. Lewis Puleo, vice president, believes there are many reasons to choose an artificial tree for holiday décor: Some are considered safer than real trees due to their flame-retardant properties; they produce less mess because they don’t shed needles; they are often more affordable because they don’t need to be repurchased each year; they’re non-allergenic; and they require no maintenance. When it comes to the sustainability aspect, Puleo says, “No need to cut down a real tree each year. An artificial Christmas tree can last for 10 to 15 years, which equates to 10 to 15 real trees that remain alive.” “When used for at least five to 10 years, artificial trees have less negative global impact than natural trees,” Puleo adds. On the flip side, many experts advocate for the usage of real Christmas trees. According to The Nature Conservancy (TNC), “In the U.S., around 10 million artificial trees are purchased each season. Nearly 90% of them are shipped across the world from China, resulting in an increase of carbon emissions and resources. And because of the material they are made of, most artificial trees are not recyclable and end up in local landfills.” “Real trees help fight climate change, and even though your Christmas tree is cut down, you’re actually supporting forests,” said the nonprofit organization. Cristina Solis, a sustainability consultant for Green Hive, an online platform that “empowers consumers to make informed sustainability choices,” believes that choosing a real Christmas tree is more sustainable than purchasing a fake tree. “Choosing a real Christmas tree supports the use of a natural and renewable resource. These trees are biodegradable, meaning they can be easily composted after use. Moreover, Christmas tree farms often grow more trees than they cut down, helping maintain green spaces and wildlife habitats,” Solis

explains. “The process of growing Christmas trees can also sequester carbon dioxide, fighting climate change. Purchasing a real tree can contribute to the local economy by supporting small-scale tree farmers. However, it's essential to consider the potential transportation-related carbon emissions if trees are transported over long distances.” “Opting for a fake Christmas tree offers sustainability benefits in terms of longevity,” Solis continues. “These trees can be used for many years, decreasing the waste generated over time. However, the manufacturing of fake trees involves the use of non-renewable materials and energy, contributing to pollution and resource consumption.” GREEN TIPS FOR WHATEVER TREE YOU CHOOSE While Puleo and Solis are on opposite ends of the debate, they both acknowledge that it’s a nuanced topic given that the holidays involve many factors like family and cultural traditions. While it’s a matter of personal preference, both have tips for making it the greenest holiday possible. “For those who are adamant about decorating with a real Christmas tree, it's best if you can rent a real Christmas tree from a company that will pick up the tree when you are finished with it and possibly replant or reuse it,” Puleo advises. “Or find a company that properly disposes and reuses your old Christmas tree to help alleviate landfill waste and diminishing natural resources.” “If choosing a real tree, consider supporting tree farms that follow sustainable practices, such as replanting and reducing pesticide use,” Solis adds. “For artificial trees, aim to use them for many years to offset their production impact,” she continues. “Another sustainable option to consider when selecting an artificial Christmas tree is purchasing one from a second-hand store.” Whatever type of tree you choose this holiday season, the ACTA encourages consumers to make thoughtful choices that are best for their families. “When it comes to choosing a Christmas tree this year, consumers should consider what tree best fits their needs and traditions,” says Jami Warner, ACTA Executive Director. “We hope that by evaluating what tree works best for them and shopping early, every consumer will find the type and style of tree they are looking for.”



CAUGHT IN THEACT Luxury brand Piper & Skye creates ethically minded handbags using non-traditional leathers BY MISTY MILIOTO


Before launching Toronto- and New York-based Piper & Skye in 2015, Joanna MacDonald, founder and CEO of the company, studied at the London College of Fashion. There, she broadened her knowledge of accessory design. MacDonald, who had previously studied to become a human resources professional, credits her pivot into fashion design — specifically luxury handbags using non-traditional leathers — both to her entrepreneurial spirit and to her late grandmother.

“At an early age, [she] taught me how much fun it was to dress up and wear heels, of course carrying a unique and gorgeous handbag,” she says. “She taught me the confidence a woman has when carrying a piece of fashion on her arm, especially when it is created with genuine purpose. This purpose has driven my own brand values and inspires every aspect of how I have designed the business. I have an ingrained, deep-rooted understanding and appreciation for inclusion, transparency, and responsibility, which is reflected throughout every aspect of Piper & Skye. Best of all, we design and create bright, bold, top-quality, and unique handbags that draw attention everywhere they go.” MacDonald began by networking with other fashion entrepreneurs in Toronto, where she also started researching suppliers. Then, at a leather fair called Lineapelle in New York City, she met Nova Kaeru, the now supplier of Piper & Skye’s signature material, pirarucu (a freshwater fish native to the basin of the Amazon River). “[It is] tanned sustainably in Brazil,” MacDonald says. “This was around the time that I was beginning to learn more about sustainability. [Pirarucu] is award-winning for environmental sustainability. A food source in South America, the leather is a waste product, and the fishing of pirarucu supports the economy of the local fishing communities in Brazil.”

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Formerly discarded, pirarucu fish skins are transformed into renewable materials that form the core of Piper & Skye’s collections. “Pirarucu leather produces significantly fewer greenhouse gasses and a lower carbon footprint than traditional bovine leather,” MacDonald says. “Sourced through sustainable fishing management and overseen by the CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] governing body, pirarucu leather fishing contributes to a biodiverse, regenerative ecosystem, while also providing a source of income to surrounding communities.” In addition to the positive social and environmental impacts, pirarucu leather has other unique and beneficial qualities. With most leather goods, it’s recommended that they not get wet. However, with pirarucu being an aquatic species — and with proper treatment and care — the handbags will not get ruined if they get wet. “We strive to create our pirarucu bags for longevity and durability,” MacDonald says. “A Piper & Skye bag should be passed on from generation to generation as an heirloom and collector’s piece. Each [handbag] comes from a unique fish, with unique scales and its own battle scars. No two are alike, and we choose to honor and respect each individual bag’s qualities for this reason.” Piper & Skye also uses wild American alligator leather,



which is sourced and tanned in the United States. “The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries has fine-tuned a scientific management program to maintain a healthy and stable alligator population, while creating a sustainable and certified industry in Louisiana,” MacDonald says. “Each registrant must prove compliance with science-based animal welfare standards established by the government. Each certified LDWF registrant is issued CITES alligator tags … [and] each tag is registered for detailed record keeping that LDWF maintains and to ensure legal trade practices. All fees collected by CITES tags go toward alligator sustainable management programs, population control, education, and conservation efforts to ensure the health and stability of the population.” The luxury handbag brand also has embarked on a new initiative with INVERSA Leathers, a regenerative materials company that creates leather from invasive species that destroy ecosystems, to launch a new

collection using Florida's invasive Burmese python. “The Everglades, one of the world's most unique and endangered ecosystems, faces an ongoing challenge due to the invasive python population,” MacDonald says. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has already implemented several efforts to remove the large snakes from the Everglades’ ecosystem — primarily by humanely killing them. Piper & Skye created the collection with the idea of evolving what sustainability means in the world of fashion. "Piper & Skye is looking to this invasive species as a regenerative resource to craft a collection of luxurious bags, showcasing our brand's unwavering commitment to innovation and design and underscoring our dedication to utilizing materials that exhibit environmental stewardship.” In order to achieve a long-lasting and high-quality product, Piper & Skye invests in quality control and

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skilled craftsmanship. “Stitching the scales of [the pirarucu] leather proves to be a challenge for our artisans, hence why we are one of the very few brands who tackle this craftsmanship challenge,” MacDonald says. “Alligator and python skins are extremely durable materials. They are very hard to scratch; they do not transfer color-fastness; and they are easy to wipe clean with a moist cloth.” Through Piper & Skye, MacDonald operates on the idea that luxury goods production and sustainable/ ethical business practices can co-exist without being mutually exclusive. “The luxury goods industry needs to do better, and we can,” she says. “Given proper planning, collaboration, education, innovative thinking, and a true desire to do better, we have the ability to stop being one of the world’s worst causes of environmental harm. But we must do it together through strategic partnerships. Our core values are respect, responsibility, and community.” MacDonald approaches each of these values differently. To earn the respect of stakeholders, she focuses on transparency of business processes, partnerships and alignments, materials selection, supply chain, and manufacturing relationships, and the way the company treats its internal team and external partners. She feels a deep sense of responsibility to her internal team, her stakeholders, and the communities surrounding all business and personal relations. One way that MacDonald acts on the value of community is by collaborating with the pirarucu material supplier to support and meet the needs of the local fishing communities along the riverbanks of the Amazon. Piper & Skye also donates new, higher-quality nets to the local fishing communities, which has a direct impact on preserving the local fauna. “The smaller fish are no longer caught by accident, as they can swim through the larger holes in the new nets,” MacDonald says. “This just goes to show how small actions can lead to significant and far-reaching positive effects on the environment. These nets [also] contribute to the local villages to put food on the table [so fishermen] continue to earn a living that is fair, equitable, and contributes to a higher quality of life.” The entire team at Piper & Skye understands that sustainability is a paradigm shift for the fashion industry as a whole. “[We have] established ethical business practices and policies to propel the fashion industry toward higher accountability standards,” MacDonald says. “Piper & Skye takes action on these priorities through ethical sourcing strategies, strict

materials selection criteria, reducing emissions, and building circularity into our products and throughout all business processes.” Piper & Skye also measures and works to minimize both its own greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint, as well as paying close attention to its supply chain. “We are working hard to understand how our products can support biodiversity, ocean and aquatic conservation and regeneration, and focusing on making the best use of what nature has gifted us,” MacDonald says. Piper & Skye’s handbags are perfect both for everyday use and special occasions, boasting both elegance and functionality. “During the design stage, we envision how one would use and carry the bag, and we equip each one with suitable options for day to night,” MacDonald says. “Many of our bags can be carried on your arm, as a crossbody, or as a clutch. I truly design bags that align with my needs for any occasion and ensure all styles have the right pockets, straps, and final touches that make our bags so unique. We pride ourselves on the bright, bold, cheerful colors and the subtle branding on our collections. We love the new term, 'quiet luxury,’ even though we are bold and making a statement in many ways.”

As an example, the Lola crossbody — a signature Piper & Skye bag known for its effortless style and functionality — is one of the brand’s most popular styles. “The size allows you to carry everything you need for day or night, and a removable strap converts the Lola into an evening clutch,” MacDonald says.

“Our Mac Pack is another iconic Piper & Skye look. This crossbody pouch is great for all genders and makes a stylish statement. Last but not least, we have to mention our Braemar tote — a ‘quiet luxury’ statement tote that’s durable and functional for carrying office essentials. Our newest bag is the Rio Raffia beach bag, which comes with a removable wristlet.”

Recently, Positive Luxury awarded Piper & Skye with the coveted Butterfly Mark certification. This global trust mark serves as independent verification that organizations have met the highest standards of sustainability best practices. “Being part of the Positive Luxury community, and now working alongside the other luxury brands [that are] Butterfly Mark certified, we are very much excited to collaborate with those brands and, together, leave this planet in better shape than we found it.” MacDonald also founded a nonprofit transitional housing solution — dubbed Safe Transitions in 2020 — serving domestic violence and human trafficking survivors in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. “Through collaboration with community partners and its network of volunteers, Safe Transitions provides survivors with access to affordable transitional housing and a suite of wraparound supports such as life and career skills training and mental health care,” MacDonald says. “Taking a housing-first approach, Safe Transitions’ mission is to support and empower survivors to rebuild their lives by providing them with the community and resources needed to create meaningful and sustainable lives free of violence.” Piper & Skye supports Safe Transitions with corporate donations and by donating a percentage of profits to the organization. DECEMBER 2023


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On Gossamer Wings Protecting Mexico’s native butterflies is the goal of Puerto Vallarta’s Mariposario Jardín Mágico BY REBECCA L. RHOADES


Who doesn’t love butterflies? The ephemeral beauties are considered enchanting by most people — a rare status among insects. Perhaps it’s their colorful, iridescent wings that shimmer in the sunlight. Or maybe it’s their metamorphic entrance into the world that sparks wonderment. But while butterflies may seem like an attractive addition to a flower garden, they’re also an important environmental indicator. Butterflies can tell us almost everything we need to know about the health of the surrounding ecosystem. They react quickly to changes in the environment, and they are major pollinators of both wild and cultivated plants.

In Mexico, the monarch butterfly is revered. Ancient Indigenous cultures believed the migrating creatures were the returning souls of loved ones, and the flapping of their wings delivered messages from the afterlife. Each fall, millions of monarchs descend upon the highland forests of Michoacán. While the population of monarchs has decreased dramatically in recent years, the worldwide popularity of this natural phenomenon, coupled with the country’s cultural reverence, has led to increased conservation efforts for the lepidopterans. In Puerto Vallarta, one couple have dedicated their lives to the preservation and proliferation of all local butterfly species. Fabian Reyes and Krystian Krys run Mariposario Jardín Mágico, a butterfly sanctuary that focuses on increasing butterfly populations, promoting conservation efforts, and raising awareness through education and outreach programs. The couple, who

met in Peru about 12 years ago — Reyes is from the South American country, while Krys is from Poland — previously operated a popular restaurant in the Mexican beach town. “We wanted to create something for the community,” Reyes says. “At the restaurant, I would see small children who were glued to their cell phones and didn’t get any outdoor activity. That is not good.” THE SECRET GARDEN Located in the Campo Verde neighborhood, about 15 minutes east of the Puerto Vallarta airport and about a half hour northeast of the city’s famed Malecón, the mariposario (mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly) opened briefly in March 2020, followed by more than a year of COVID-mandated closure. “We officially reopened in October 2021, and we are getting more and more visitors every day,” Reyes says. “It’s so satisfactory to see in a very short period of time what we have achieved.” The sanctuary is housed on the grounds of Rancho Madre Tierra, an expansive ecological park that includes campgrounds, a disc golf course, mountain biking trails, a traditional sweat lodge, and a manmade pond.



A rustic dirt road leads guests about two miles into the park to a long rectangular red building with an arched roof covered in netting. The surrounding verdant landscape is wild and overgrown, with vines climbing up and over the structure. And at first glance, the sanctuary appears underwhelming, especially when compared to the large tourist-oriented, corporate-run butterfly exhibitions in the U.S. According to Reyes, those companies purchase butterfly chrysalises from countries around the world and release all the species into the exhibitions. “Every butterfly in nature requires a specific plant,” he notes. “If that plant is not present in their ecosystem, the butterfly will stress out and die. Then the companies will continue to buy and release more butterflies, and the cycle will never end.” Inside his sanctuary, however, is a fantastical jungle of lush native flora and brilliant blooms. Climbing plants weave their way overhead on wires and support

beams, while the large shiny leaves of tropical greenery mix with groupings of tiny textured ivies. A narrow gravel path directs visitors through the space, under vine-covered archways, and around clusters of potted perennials. And everywhere you look, butterflies flutter through the air like a kaleidoscopic display of fanciful fairies. A “magic garden,” indeed. CONSERVING NATIVE SPECIES There are more than 17,000 species of butterflies in the world. About 10%, or between 1,750 to 2,000 species, are found in Mexico, with more than 650 identified in the state of Jalisco alone. “Since 2018, we have been able to identify — just in this spot — 190 species. And those are just the ones that fly during the day,” Reyes points out. The sanctuary is licensed to reproduce 35 species of butterflies. These include the Colobura dirce, or dirce beauty; Parides photinus, or pinkspotted cattleheart; Heliconius charithonia, or zebra butterfly; Pieris rapae, or cabbage white butterfly; and Hamadryas spp.,

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commonly referred to as cracker butterflies due to the males’ ability to produce a “cracking” sound with their wings. Before escorting guests on a guided tour through the almost 11,000-square-foot sanctuary, Reyes introduces them to some of the species they’ll see inside. He brings out a basket full of small plastic containers that hold caterpillars, chrysalises and cocoons. He talks about the natural defense mechanisms of caterpillars, how the metamorphosis process occurs, and how butterflies eat and mate. “We have lots of information to share with people that I don’t think other butterfly sanctuaries do,” Krys says. For example, did you know that butterflies taste their food through their feet? Because it is illegal in Mexico to catch wild butterflies, Reyes and his team collect eggs from host plants that grow adjacent to the sanctuary. “We grow the host plants outside, and the local butterflies come and lay their eggs, which we collect and take into our lab,” which is located at the rear of the sanctuary building, he explains.

In the wild, only about 3% of eggs survive. The rest fall victim to predators, such as spiders, birds, lizards, and frogs, and to humans who spray plants with harmful pesticides. Of those eggs that do develop, only about 30% of the butterflies survive. “We’ve been able to achieve a 96% survival rate, right now, and our goal is 98%,” Krys notes. The sanctuary releases about 50 to 60 butterflies each day. The average lifespan of a butterfly in nature is two to four weeks. “Here, it can be six weeks,” Reyes says. During this time, the team studies the insects and their relationship to the ecosystem. “We need to study everything — the plants, the butterflies, how it is all connected together.” Following their tour, visitors are invited to release butterflies. Each person is given a plastic container that holds a single butterfly. “When you help a butterfly take its first flight, in gratitude, it is going to give you one wish,” Reyes says. “This needs to be from your heart. The butterfly is going to keep your secret, and they will take it to the modern age.”



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Pati Jinich Creates Connections to Culture Through Food BY JORDAN GERARD


Pati Jinich is the James Beard award-winning chef and Emmy-nominated TV host of two PBS television shows that go beyond cooking to create a strong connection between community, culture, and cuisine — the impacts of which were recently celebrated by Chicanos por la Causa, honoring Jinich as a celebrated advocate for positive change within the Latino community.

All photos courtesy of Pati Jinich

For Jinich, cooking goes beyond a daily task. It’s her love language — the way she shows she cares for her family. It also serves as a vehicle to share her Mexican culture with viewers. Jinich is originally from Mexico City, where she earned an undergraduate degree in political science, followed by a masters degree in Latin American studies when she came to the U.S. with her husband 22 years ago. Growing up with three older sisters who jumped into the food world much earlier, Jinich wanted to be different. The academic, the analyst, she said, contributing to ideas and debate. Cooking was a world away from her life and goals in academia. “I was a terrible, horrible, awful, disastrous cook before I moved to the U.S.,” she fondly recalls. She worked as a political analyst at a think tank in Washington, D.C. It was that skill set of strengthening and building bridges in civic cultures between the U.S. and Latin American countries and connecting migrant communities to their home countries that led her to the world of cooking — an avenue that would allow her to contribute in more meaningful and sturdy ways, she realized.

“I realized that food was a space that allowed me to stay connected to Mexico while at the same time allowing me to grow deep and strong roots here in the United States,” she said. “I started seeing the beauty in food as a storytelling mechanism because my English was absolutely horrible when I moved here, and with food, I was able to share who we are and to share what we can do. I think that food is just what you get to when words are not that useful, when there's gridlock, when there's, you know, different views.” Jinich enrolled at the L'académie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Eventually, she started her first PBS show called Pati’s Mexican Table, now in its 12th season. Every season, Jinich travels to a different part of Mexico and opens a window into the culture and community through the noble lens of food. Falling in love with the power of food as a mechanism to tell stories, Jinich also realized her recipes could not only help viewers figure out what to cook on a Wednesday night, but also help them to expand their palates and knowledge of Mexican culture, and even help Mexican Americans tap into their culture and roots.



“Food is really like a library that you can open and you can taste worlds and cultures and cuisines and understand people,” she said. “[It] helps us bring the walls down, helps us lift veils, and it just allows us to become vulnerable and free [our] minds to connect.”

happens there. The joy, the beauty, the culture, the art, the entrepreneurship, and all of these stories that just get buried under the headlines,” she said. Connecting cultures across food, music, dance, and other commonalities is soft power that radiates beyond political tensions and beyond what is taught.

Her latest project, La Frontera with Pati Jinich, speaks to the 31 million people that live in borderland communities. From San Diego and Tijuana to Brownsville, Jinich saw firsthand how interconnected and collaborative, through respect and love, that these border communities truly are. And while the show rises above political tensions, politics are often unavoidable. Jinich observes frustration from people on both sides of the border between the U.S. and Mexico but notes that most desire collaboration and have a deep understanding of each other.

“We’re taught how to think and what to think of others and all these categories. What’s right and what’s wrong, what’s left and what’s right, what’s black and what’s white, what’s correct and what’s not,” Jinich says. “I feel like it's these spaces that help unlock doors and help us see the light in the shared connections.”

The show aims to shine a spotlight on the culinary advantages and nuances that can be celebrated and shared in these borderland cities. If you want an amazing fish taco, you go to San Diego. If you want aguachile, you go to Tijuana. For incredible flour tortillas, they’re in Mexico. If you want an unbelievable hamburger, it’s in the U.S., Jinich explained.

“It’s the way we give, the way we get to know the world, the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. Food is really powerful,” Jinich said.

“It’s shining a light on their lives, on how they enrich not only one country but two, and everything that

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These connections are shared between Jinich and her three sons, all of whom learned to cook at a young age. She’ll get texts about what food they’re trying, what they’re sharing with their roommates and friends.

If she had to choose a favorite dish to cook, it would be something that involves eggs. She explains there is great diversity in the way that eggs are prepared all across Mexico — drowned in salsa, scrambled

with vegetables, as omelets, or cooked in ashes under tortillas — there’s no bad way to cook an egg. Jinich also enjoys soups and enchiladas and has a bit of a sweet tooth. And while she enjoys cooking, the time spent with family and friends lingering at the table after the meal is finished, called sobremesa, is gratifying, as well. Beyond her Mexican heritage, Jinich says that Italian, Korean, and Thai dishes are at the top of her list. MORE TO DO Jinich has enjoyed sharing her passion and says it’s been an incredible, humbling, and inspiring journey. It’s allowed her to connect with the Mexican diaspora in the U.S. and visit regions in Mexico that she has never been to before. Her recent recognition from Chicanos Por La Causa came in the form of the 2023 Cause for Change Award, which honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the community. Jinich was awarded at a special celebration in Phoenix on Oct. 20. Former honorees include activist Dolores Huerta, actor and comedian Cheech Marin, and Arizona’s first Hispanic congressman, Ed Pastor.

“Hispanos, Latinos, Chicanos, you know all the people from all the sister countries of the United States that are part of the Americas in that, whereas neighbors or immigrant communities have become such an integral part of the tapestry that is this country,” Jinich said. “I feel like I need to do more.” The latest season of Pati’s Mexican Table is airing now. New episodes are released every Friday on PBS. org, air on PBS television, and are also available on Amazon Prime. Jinich will release her fourth cookbook in 2025.

Chicanos Por La Causa is one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. It was established in 1969 by Arizona students and activists. Today, the organization hosts over 30 programs in health and human services, education, housing, economic development, and advocacy that impact more than two million lives across the Southwest. Adding this award to her long list of accolades is an incredible honor, but Jinich says she isn’t finished yet and acknowledges the others who came before her who have done incredible work on behalf of the Latino community.



Carne con Chile Burritos BY PATI JINICH 10 SERVINGS

Ingredients 6 pounds pork or beef brisket cut into large pieces 2 garlic cloves 1/4 of a large white onion 3 bay leaves 5 Roma tomatoes Kosher or sea salt to taste 15 chiltepin chiles 3 to 4 chiles de arbol stemmed, seeded, and rinsed 3 cascabel chiles stemmed, seeded, and rinsed 3 pasilla chiles stemmed, seeded, and rinsed 2 dried morita or chipotle chiles stemmed, seeded, and rinsed 4 ounces California, Colorado, or chiles de Sarta stemmed, seeded, and rinsed 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 10 large flour tortillas Instructions Place the meat, garlic, onion, bay leaves, tomatoes, and salt in a large, thick saucepan and cover with water by about an inch. Set over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the meat is completely cooked through and tender, about two to three hours. Remove the meat from the saucepan and chop into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the cooking liquid, discarding the bay leaves. To make the red sauce, put all the chiles in a medium saucepan. Cover them with water and simmer over medium-high heat until they´ve rehydrated and plumped up, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender along with the already sauteed tomato, garlic, and onion, as well as one cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Puree until smooth and strain through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer into the remaining cooking liquid. Stir to combine. Melt the lard or vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or a large pan over medium heat. Once it's hot, whisk in the flour and cook until it starts to smell toasty and has a sandy consistency. Add the red sauce, mix well with the whisk, and let it simmer for a few minutes until it thickens to a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. Turn off heat. Add the chopped, cooked meat. Mix well to completely cover the meat with the sauce. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the meat with sauce onto large, flour tortillas and roll them to make burritos.

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Sweet Treats Holiday desserts from around the world BY ANGELA FAIRHURST


The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and, notably, indulging in sweet treats. In the United States, this festive season is enriched by a melting pot of cultures and traditions from around the world. As we embrace the spirit of giving and sharing, we welcome a diverse array of holiday desserts that have become an integral part of America’s celebrations.



Perhaps the most common of holiday novelties is the gingerbread house. The tradition of crafting gingerbread houses originated in Germany, where they symbolize the fairytale magic of the holiday season. These intricately decorated delights are edible structures made from gingerbread, icing, and candy and have been adopted by Americans, becoming a beloved holiday activity for families. Gingerbread houses can be seen in the windows of bakeries and households across the United States, showcasing the artistry and creativity of the season.

Panetón or Panettone is a sweet bread dessert, originally imported from Italy, and has become one of the symbols of Christmas in Peru. Panetón has a unique shape that looks like a dome placed on a building. A cross between a cake and a bread, this golden dome of goodness is loaded with candied fruits and dried raisins and is an essential final course in any Christmas dinner, often accompanied by hot chocolate. In the U.S., it has become a cherished addition to many American households and can be found in local bakeries and specialty stores.

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BÛCHE DE NOËL: FRENCH YULE LOG CAKE Bûche de Noël, a traditional French dessert resembling a yule log, is a sweet delight that crossed the Atlantic. In the U.S., this dessert is a rolled sponge cake filled with flavored cream, often made with ingredients like chocolate and butter, and is decorated to resemble an actual log. Families across the country enjoy a slice of this delicious treat during the holiday season.

RUGELACH: A SWEET TREAT FROM HANUKKAH Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Jewish communities around the world. One of the delightful treats associated with this holiday is rugelach, a crescent-shaped pastry filled with sweet ingredients like jam, chocolate, or nuts. It’s typically made with cream cheese, sugar, and flour and enjoyed during the eight-day celebration. CHRISTMAS PUDDING: A BRITISH CLASSIC The United Kingdom has given us beloved Christmas pudding, a dense, spiced, rich cake, typically made with suet, molasses, and a mix of dried fruits. It is often infused with alcohol and set aflame for a

dramatic presentation. This tradition has found a home in the U.S., with many families including Christmas pudding as part of their holiday feasts.

TURRON: A SPANISH HOLIDAY DELICACY Originating in Spain, Turron is a sweet treat made from honey, sugar, egg whites, and mixed toasted almonds or other nuts. Turron has a delightful combination of crunchy and chewy textures and is often associated with holiday festivities. It’s enjoyed in the United States especially in areas with strong Hispanic influence. These international delights have become an integral part of American holiday traditions. They remind us that, in this season of giving, we also receive the gift of cultural exchange, making our celebrations all the sweeter.




Cheers to the Holidays

Host(ess) gift wines that will wow all season long BY ALISON BAILIN BATZ


‘Tis the season…to be at a loss for what to bring as a host(ess) gift! When in question, the answer is always wine. Versatile and chic, a good bottle of wine makes a beautiful thank you gift to those opening their home for the holidays, or to anyone else (21 and over, of course) for that matter. Here are some excellent options that are made in a sustainable manner for every price point. FIDDLEHEAD CELLARS 2016 ‘SEVEN TWENTY EIGHT’ PINOT NOIR, STA. RITA HILLS A truly inspired expression of the terroir in Sta. Rita Hills, this Pinot is for those who like their wines delicate and delicious. It exudes flavors of black cherry and wild berries but is tempered by notes of herbs and toasted spices. $48

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SILVER TRIDENT 2019 TWENTY SEVEN FATHOMS CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY Aptly named, given that the wine’s founder is also the co-founder of Oceania Cruises. Enjoy every beautiful sip, which will burst with blueberry jam, black tea, allspice, plums, and even a bit of mocha. $95

DOMAINE CARNEROS 2018 BLANC DE NOIR, NAPA VALLEY This party in a flute opens with sweet, cooked pears and melon before transitioning to yummy notes of green apples. It gets creamier as it is enjoyed, offering kisses of white cherry and lychee fruit. $42

Handwritten Wines, it is brightly acidic yet smooth on the finish with a dizzyingly delicious combination of white cherries and black pepper. $120

GARY FARRELL WINERY 2021 PINOT NOIR, RUSSIAN RIVER SELECTION A quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, the aromatics of rose, boysenberry jam, and cherry cordial are heavenly, rivaled only by the juicy blast of blood orange, sour cherry, and raspberry on the palate. $45 ROMBAUER 2018 PROPRIETOR’S SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY Lush and lovely, this polished take on California Cabernet brings together plum, blackberry, black cherry, baking spices, cedar, and even vanilla in perfect harmony. $150

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA 2019 RESERVE PINOT NOIR, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY The deep garnet color is breathtaking, but it’s just the beginning. Upon opening, a perfume of blackberry slowly seeps from the bottle, and when tasting it, it is impossible to miss the avalanche of red fruit in every sip. $50 NICKEL & NICKEL 2019 KENEFICK RANCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CALISTOGA Remember the oddly satisfying smell of the shavings right after sharpening one’s pencil? It sounds crazy, but this wine offers slight notes of those shavings along with the aroma of a cigar box. To the taste, however, black cherry and chocolate completely take over. $160 RAM’S GATE 2019 ESTATE PINOT NOIR, SONOMA This exquisite expression opens with a nose of blood orange and chocolate. The combination gives a very regal impression. To the taste, the citrus and chocolate give way to a bit of red fruit, followed by waves of earth, oak, and spice. $85 REYNA NORIEGA 2021 RED WINE BLEND, NAPA VALLEY

HANDWRITTEN 2018 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CARNEROS One of the rarest bottles available from the acclaimed

This is a limited-edition offering from Clif Family Winery and award-winning visual artist Reyna Noriega. Meant to awe from the label to the last DECEMBER 2023


sip, this beautiful blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah, is from the organically farmed Valle di Sotto vineyard in Napa Valley. $50

RODNEY STRONG VINEYARDS 2018 RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, ALEXANDER VALLEY Each vintage year, this wine is made from the best Strong grapes across its Sonoma County vineyards. This particular expression has a lovely nose of violets and palate of black currant, vanilla, and cocoa. $60

ONEHOPE KOSHER RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, ST. HELENA Thanks to a flash-pasteurization process that follows the mevushal method, this Cabernet is 100% kosher, and the black cherry here is exceptionally tasty whether keeping kosher or not. $100

FEL 2018 SPARKLING BRUT, SAVOY VINEYARD, ANDERSON VALLEY This vintage marks the award-winning winery’s first foray into bubbles. The result? An unabashed triumph that blends Pinot Noir and Chardonnay following the traditional méthode champenoise. $75

CASS 2019 GRENACHE, PASO ROBLES An easy drinker if ever there was one, enjoy the taste of sweet cherries, almond, strawberries, itsy bitsy kisses of anise, white pepper, and even cedar. Perfect for friends newer to enjoying red wines. $26 ADELAIDA 2019 PINOT NOIR HMR ESTATE VINEYARD, PASO ROBLES Black truffle notes in a Pinor Noir? Yes, that is really among the ingredients one will taste with this old vine varietal, pairing with notes of black cherry, raspberry, and Asian spice in complete harmony. $60

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PAPAPIETRO PERRY 2020 NUNES VINEYARD PINOT NOIR, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY A stunner from Sonoma County’s esteemed Russian River Valley, this Pinot will absolutely impress even the most discerning wine drinker on the gift list with its winter spices — especially cinnamon — as well as its cherry, raspberry, and hints of clove. $66


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Maple & Ash’s Fire-Roasted Asparagus Ingredients 16 ounces asparagus 16-20 chopped Marcona almonds Garlicnaise Orange zest Mint Garlicnaise 1 cup mayonnaise 4 teaspoons garlic paste 2 garlic cloves (minced) 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt to taste Instructions Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush a sheet tray with oil or butter, add asparagus, and place in oven. Cook for two to three minutes, then flip asparagus and cook for an additional two to three minutes or until tender. When finished, transfer to a service plate. Garnish with Garlicnaise, orange zest, almonds, and julienned mint.

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FireRock Country Club’s Tarragon Chimichurri Ingredients 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley 1 bunch cilantro 1 bunch tarragon (leaves only) 2 serrano chilies (halved and seeded) 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 6 cloves of garlic 1 shallot 1/3 cup honey 1/3 cup red wine vinegar Zest of 1 lemon Juice of 2 limes Salt to taste (about one tablespoon) Directions Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on low until a smooth consistency is achieved. Adjust seasoning to taste using additional salt and lime juice. May use immediately after preparation, or for best use, let flavors develop overnight. Use to give extra flavor to caprese salads, meat, fish, seafood, or eggs.



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Sip, Savor, and Soar

Photos courtesy of Discover Buellton

An eco-conscious journey through Buellton BY BETH WEITZMAN


As we arrived in Buellton, nestled in the heart of Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country just a short drive north of Santa Barbara, we were immediately taken by its authentic and inviting vibe. Only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean along Highway 101, Buellton is cocooned in natural beauty, framed by the rolling Sta. Rita Hills.

While the hit movie “Sideways" put the town on the map, Buellton has established itself as a celebrated destination for its exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with pioneers and masters of these wines flourishing here. But Buellton offers far more than acclaimed vineyards; it's a hub for farm-to-table dining, thriving breweries, a whimsical selection of overnight spots, and boasts California's biggest and fastest zipline tour. Buellton's charming neighbors, including Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara,

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beautifully complement its unique offerings, creating a regional epicenter for wine, culinary delights, outdoor escapades, and cultural encounters. Our adventure began at the Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground, which offers a wide array of accommodations, including 52 cottages, 16 glampingstyle tents, modernized vintage trailers, refurbished Airstream trailers, and RV sites with full hookups. We checked into a cozy Ranch Cottage accessed via a private entrance in the Santa Ynez ranch. Our dogfriendly cabin could sleep up to four, with a queen-

sized bed in the bedroom and two twins in the loft. The kitchen had everything we needed, and outside, we just loved sipping wine on the comfy patio and the adorable front porch. Exploring during the day left us little time to enjoy many of the resort's offerings like pools, bocce ball, horseshoes, and bikes for a tour around town. Feather & Fire, the on-site restaurant, serves up comfort food — including pizza, chicken Philly sandwiches, familystyle dinners, and ice cream. The charming general store is stocked with essentials like local wines, soft sweatshirts, and artisan gifts. Flying Flags isn't just a relaxing spot to reconnect with nature; it's also all about sustainability. They source ingredients locally, run a solid recycling program, and offer full-size, refillable shower amenities. In 2024, they're going solar, in line with parent company Highway West Vacations' commitment to eco-friendly properties — already in place at Hotel Hygge and Sideways Inn. After getting settled, we made our way to "Wine Wednesday" on Industrial Way. This weekly event organized by Esfuerzo Wines and The Birria Boyz brings together food vendors, live music, and wine tasting for a memorable experience. At the heart of the event is Fidencio Flores of Esfuerzo Wines, a visionary vintner deeply connected to the vineyards. As a dedicated farmer and meticulous winemaker, he oversees every aspect,

from tending the vines to bottling the wines. During our visit, we had the pleasure of savoring a remarkable flight of wines, many poured by Flores himself, in his newly designed tasting room which bridges the realms of Old World and New. After indulging our taste buds, we strolled down the street to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.'s original taproom, where we discovered a fantastic outdoor dining and entertainment area. It was decked out with string lights, warm fire pits, and fun games like Jenga and bocce ball — all set against the backdrop of massive stainless steel fermentation tanks. There’s also indoor and brew deck seating, where you can watch the brewing in action. The beer includes a rotating list of specialty and cask beers exclusive to their taprooms. Here, the food is just as good as the beer. Irresistible Crack Wings in a jalapeño-maple-bacon sauce is a dish you won't want to share. Throw in some Giant Pretzels with beer cheese and spicy brown mustard for dipping and indulge in treats like Carnitas Nachos Queso, crispy Brussels Sprouts, and a Pulled Pork Sando, and you’ll be set for the rest of the day. It's a feast for both beer and food lovers alike! Buellton tends to wind down early, but for those seeking a late-night spot, the Sideways Inn Lounge adjacent to Flying Flags is the place to go. The vibe is contemporary and relaxed. It's an eclectic atmosphere marked by a playful mix of vintage motorcycles, antler chandeliers, and tufted leather sofas. They've got a menu brimming with craft beers, creative cocktails, Central California wines, and mouthwatering sausages with hand-cut Belgian fries, served from the Santa Ynez Sausage Company Airstream parked outside. Our next stop brought us to Vega Vineyard and Farm, where we fully embraced the sustainable, farm-to-table experience. Sitting on the beautiful patio, we enjoyed the sweeping views of the sprawling vineyards, restaurant, and wine bar. Its welcoming, rustic charm was the perfect prelude to an unforgettable dining experience. DECEMBER 2023


The menu promised an exciting culinary journey, showcasing seasonal flavors from the estate garden and local producers. From vibrant salads to artisanal entrees, each dish conveyed genuine artistry. Exploring the curated wine selection by Steve Clifton became an essential part of our gastronomic adventure. Highlights included Deviled Farm Eggs with the 2022 Vermentino and a Charcuterie & Cheese Board with the 2021 Pinot Grigio. Standouts like Roasted Beets with salmon and the Asian Pork Burger were perfectly paired with wine. The dining experience was elevated by wine-infused sauces that beautifully complemented the culinary delights. What made it even more special was the staff's extensive knowledge and authentic passion for food, wine, and the region. They really understand the special magic of shared meals, recognizing how food and wine can bring people together in an extraordinary way. The opportunity to connect with their farm animals enriched our visit, emphasizing their unwavering commitment to authenticity and sustainability. Our journey led us to Brick Barn Wine Estate, and just when we thought we hit our sipping limit, we couldn’t

turn down a tasting of their distinctive wine selection. Nestled by the Santa Ynez River, this charming spot proudly boasts the title of the westernmost vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. The wine tasting room, offering both indoor and outdoor seating, provided an outdoor haven with fire pits, patio heaters, and picnic tables shaded by oak trees. Brick Barn stands out for producing wines with a unique character, shaped by the region's distinct climate, positioned between the warmer inland areas and the cooler Sta. Rita Hills. Their 35 acres showcase a strong commitment to sustainability, steering clear of chemical fertilizers and supporting native birds of prey. Now, shifting gears, we dove into the thrilling world of ziplining with Highline Adventures, home to California's largest and fastest ziplines. We soared through a three-part adventure, whisking us over the gorgeous Santa Ynez Valley, cruising across scenic hillsides, and following vast ridge lines. The views?

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Absolutely breathtaking, giving us a whole new perspective on the area. Highline Adventures blew us away with their commitment to safety and education. The expert guides addressed any fears swiftly, and the top-notch equipment, including a secure basket-like harness, made the experience worry-free. This alone is worth a trip to Buellton! Filled with endorphins, our day concluded with dinner at the renowned Industrial Eats, nestled in a repurposed warehouse on Industrial Way. This restaurant is a hub of quality, community-focused dining. It's the kind of place where you stroll in and immediately feel like you're among old friends. The chefs work some serious magic with fresh, local ingredients, offering dishes like Roasted Peaches with Prosciutto and Burrata; Beef & Ricotta Meatballs in Marinara; White Shrimp with Pancetta, Chile, and Garlic; and Fennel Sausage, Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza. The food was divine, and the experience was unforgettable.

Post-checkout, we explored DorWood Distillery with co-founder Jay Lockwood, a true hidden gem offering an authentic distillation experience. This family-owned spot embraces the soil-to-sip philosophy, crafting spirits with a genuine passion for craftsmanship. Their meticulously crafted spirits, perfect for sipping neat, leave a lasting impression — the gin's blend of nine botanicals and smooth finish is noteworthy. And the DorWood Vodka-Infused Habapeño Limoncello was a totally unexpected delight — so much so that we had to bring a bottle home. To conclude our journey, Ostrichland USA was a unique and fun way to cap off the day. Here, we fed emus and ostriches in a desert-like setting. In Buellton, a perfect blend of wine, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and delightful dining encapsulates the charm and richness of Santa Barbara Wine Country and will forever be a journey etched in our memories!




On Target for the Holidays Happy Holidays, everyone! In this season of giving, are you pondering what to gift your friends and loved ones? If you’re wondering what to buy for the person who has everything, why not consider the gift of an experience? Try treating a friend to a little self-care they don't indulge in often enough, or encourage a family member to try something new — plus, it’ll save our landfills from absorbing physical items given as gifts down the road. If you're still shopping, we have an idea for you. Archery! You might find an indoor or outdoor range near you, and it can be quite affordable and simple with a facility that provides equipment and basic instruction. Never tried it before? Here's a glimpse of what it's like.


She Said: I'm certainly no Katniss Everdeen after only one hour of archery practice, but let me tell you something. Once you draw your bow and take aim, you're going to feel like a badass (pardon my French). There's just something about holding that wooden bow that felt primal, like I was ready to defend myself or hunt for a meal. Granted, we'd end up having salad for dinner, because I'm not about to hunt a cute furry thing, but I'd gladly put an arrow through a cabbage to put food on the table. Primal feelings aside, this activity also focused my mind on the present. I had to concentrate on my form and the target. It was fairly quiet in the range, save the soft country music in the background, but I was ready to bring the heat to that paper bullseye 30 feet away. The THWAP that accompanied every arrow hitting the target was beyond fun and satisfying. My imagination runs away with the sound. Take that, HOA letter! Thwap! Car repairs! Thwap! Inflation! Thwap-thwap! (That one gets two arrows, because, sheesh!) It didn't even matter where my arrows landed. Two actually bounced off the target and clattered to the floor, but I didn’t care. Firing those arrows was a lot of fun! If there was ever a peaceful way to release some aggression, this is it. I look forward to going back and bringing friends so they can channel their inner Robin Hood, too!


He Said: Jen and I decided to grip it and rip it with the timeless bow and arrow this month. We visited our local archery range to see which one of us had the eagle eye. The range we picked was in one of those impossible-to-find commercial warehouse areas. You know, the ones where you drive around feeling hopelessly lost until the sign for the place you're looking for magically appears in front of you. We checked in, had a brief safety talk, donned our superhero-esque protective arm guards, and started firing our little feathered missiles at a pair of targets. I found the repetitiveness of archery to be somewhat calming. The bow and arrow is a nearly silent weapon, so the range is quiet and calm, and the focus needed to draw and aim the bow allowed me to forget about everything else going on, for a little while at least. And okay, I have to boast. I pulled a Robin Hood moment and split one arrow with another (picture to prove it). It was more luck than skill, but I'm still proud of it. You should try out archery sometime; there's a lot of fun to be had without many “drawbacks.”

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December Events Throughout Arizona CENTRAL ARIZONA December 17 La Posada This Mexican holiday tradition returns to Desert Botanical Garden for an evening of song, tasty treats, and shopping — all surrounded by the garden’s breathtaking landscape and flora. Las Posadas, which take place in the nine days leading up to Christmas, are religious celebrations that reenact Mary and Joseph’s quest for shelter. During this special event, food and drink stations will be set up throughout the garden, and there will be piñatas for children to break. Entrance is by timed tickets. Members: $34.95/adults, $14.95/youth; General admission: $39.95/$16.95. Purchase tickets at

December 9 Succulent Wreath Workshop Celebrate the holidays Sonoran-style with a living wreath handmade from desert-friendly succulents. This workshop will show you how to make the wreath using a metal frame, moss, and live Echeveria and Haworthia succulents. Best of all, you’ll be able to transplant your cuttings at the end of the season. This class starts at 10 a.m. at Dig It Gardens in Phoenix. Cost is $75/person. For more information, visit

December 9 Discovery Days at Taliesin West Learn how art, architecture, and nature influence each other — and how they influenced the work of Frank Lloyd Wright — during this day of fun and activities at the celebrated architect’s winter home. Explore the grounds of Taliesin and participate in a range of family-friendly activities, including crafts, educational demonstrations, and performances. $5/adults; youth/free. Reserve your spot at

December 9-10 46th Annual S’edav Va’aki Museum Indian Market and Young Artists Market You’re sure to find the perfect holiday gift, as more than 100 artisan booths will showcase works by Arizona’s finest Native American artists. In addition, there will be performances, ancestral demonstrations, and Native foods. Kids will enjoy the many hands-on activities, including pot-making, hoop dancing, and more. Admission is $5/person and includes entrance to the museum and park. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more details, go to

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December 17 Fun With Herbal Face Masks Are you tired of all the chemicals in your beauty products? Then this workshop is for you! Clinical herbalist Jen D’Oliveira will teach you how to make three natural face masks — blueberry, charcoal, and mud — while providing expert advice on skin care. You’ll go home with two-ounce samples of each mask to use yourself or give as gifts. The four-hour class, organized by Desert Bloom Botanicals, costs $120/ person and includes all ingredients, as well as lunch. To register, go to


SOUTHERN ARIZONA December 16 Traditional O’odham Agriculture Join Mission Garden’s Maegan Lopez and Sterling Johnson of the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture as they share their knowledge about the traditions associated with Native American crops, especially those of the O’odham people of Southern Arizona. You’ll learn about the importance of corn, beans, and squash in O’odham culture and how crops brought by Europeans were integrated into Native agriculture. This event is free. For time and location, visit

December 9 Adult Workshop: Salve Making During this annual workshop, herbalist Mike Masek will teach you how to make two all-natural salves, one from resin from local piñon trees, the other from leaves and flowers. These soothing ointments will make great gifts, especially for those on your list who live in harsh winter climates. All participants will receive samples of both salves. The class is from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. Cost is $30/person or $25 for Willow Bend members. Sign up at

December 20 Sedona Bird Watching Walk This 1.5-mile walk through Bubbling Ponds Reserve in Cornville, guided by naturalist and Friends of the Forest-Sedona volunteer Kevin Harding, will introduce you to a variety of bird species native to or spending the winter in Arizona. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars! Attendance is limited to 12 people, so reserve your spot at

December 24 Sedona Christmas Eve Yoga Hike The holidays can be stressful, but there’s still time to find your center. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Red Rock State Park on this adventure that combines hiking and yoga. You’ll start with a moderate 20-minute hike that will take you up to a scenic overlook where you’ll enjoy an all-levels yoga practice. Cost is $115/person and includes all-day park admission. Purchase tickets at

December 20 Introduction to Desert Trail Running Trail running is a fun and engaging way to work out while connecting with the natural world. This guided three-to-fourmile run at Enchanted Hills Trails Park, designed for new and inexperienced trail runners, will teach you proper running and safety techniques. And along the way, you’ll learn about the plants and animals that inhabit the Sonoran Desert. Register at Natural-Resources-Parks-Recreation.

December 22 Santa Cruz River History Local historian Mauro Trejo leads this two-mile walking tour that focuses on our relationship with the Santa Cruz River. You’ll learn how it supported Tucson’s early residents and what 19th- and 20th-century factors affected its demise. The tour begins at Mission Garden and includes a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane. Registration is required for this event, which is offered by the Tucson Presidio Museum. The cost is $25/museum member; $35/nonmember. For more information, visit

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How to read food labels


The Power of the Microbiome A Doctor’s Point of View


The State of Our Food Supply Straight from the Farmer’s Mouth!


Chicken 101 Your Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens

Gainey Village Health Club and Spa 7477 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ, 85258 January 28th, 2024 11 am - 4 pm Early Bird Special buy tickets before December 31st. Get your tickets at SATURDAY & SUNDAY


24-25 10 AM - 3 PM





› Live Music › Outdoor Recreation › Environmentally Friendly Crafts › Climbing Wall

› Guided Bird Tours › Directed Trail Hikes › Wildlife Education › Animal Encounters

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