An Interview with Edith Meyer
Sustainable and Organic Cakes in Santa CruzI love finding sustainable and organic vendors who are local. It brightens my day to know that there are vendors that people can go to right in their neighborhood who can help them create a beautiful and often tasty meal or party. One sustainable baker in the Santa Cruz area, who's name you might here in local circles, is Edith Meyer. Her cakes are artful and taste fantastic. Take a look:
This cake looks so decadent, and the berries are so festive and enticing.
I love the simple lines of this cake, very architectural. I imagine it going well with a garden party at Gatsby's house.
A few other cake designs that I really love are also featured on her website:
chocolate with cherry blossoms
powder blue with sugar ranunculusEdith Meyer was lovely enough to answer my usual set of questions about sustainable living, weddings and business. Take a look at her answers to my questions about why she started and how sustainability fits into weddings and living: 1. Why did you start your business and how did you decide to get involved in making organic/sustainable cakes?
One of my best friends who knew I liked to bake asked me to make her wedding cake. And it turned out to be a five-tiered, hand-painted, fondant-covered, crazy-elaborate undertaking. But I LOVED it. And it turns out that most wedding cakes actually aren't good - all the focus is on the design.
So I started the business to provide great-tasting cakes and desserts for weddings. An organic focus is honestly just a part of my lifestyle, which happens to translate very organically (pardon the pun) into the best-tasting products. You want your guests to enjoy every aspect of the wedding, and the dessert should be a part of that!
2. How would you define sustainable living?
In the most simple of terms, we need to be conscious of the impact that we have on the world around us, and take steps in as many areas of our lives as we can to reduce our negative impact.
3. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting couples to choose a green/sustainable wedding?
Hm. My first instinct is to say cost, but I don't think that is really it. People see weddings as the one day when it IS about them, and when they CAN splurge, so they often don't want to make compromises like wearing a recycled dress or having a few less pieces of beautiful paper in the invitations. And I can understand that. (Although I think hemp silk dresses like those at conscious clothing should change EVERYONE'S mind!! ) Maybe choose SOME sustainable elements, like centerpieces, flowers, favors, and feel really good about those choices.
Lack of education is a barrier - people are still learning what "green" really means with respect to weddings. And there are some murky areas, like carbon offsets for your traveling guests. I don't think I'd recommend them until there is more transparency about where the money goes.
Luckily, as the green movement gathers steam there is a cache in identifying with it, and couples who live sustainably clearly want that reflected in their weddings. So I think the barriers are getting smaller.
There is NO barrier when it comes to edibles, I think (lucky for me!). Organic just tastes better, period. So spending a little more on food and dessert that tastes AMAZING is worth it to most people - they want to honor the guests who have come to honor the two of THEM, and serving a great meal is the best way to do that.
I honestly cannot tell you the number of clients who have been to a number of cake tastings, and after one bite they're sold. It is THAT different.
4. How is your business green/sustinable? What do you wish you could do or >have to make it more green or better for people and the planet?
Since day one, all of our cakes' ingredients are organic, and we source locally whenever possible. We work with local farmers to source everything from eggs and butter to berries and vegetables. Even our chocolates and coffee beans are organic and fair-trade.
My office is completely solar-powered; we recycle and compost everything we can - I even have a recycled-bottle cover for my iPhone (thank you, Agent 18! ).
My transportation is NOT hybrid, because a) it's older and paid for and I don't want to scrap it until it's necessary, and b) because the battery issues with hybrids still aren't ideal, I think. So I guess I wish I could have a teleportation device to just magically appear at far-away venues, cakes in hand. :)
5. What is the most un-green or unsustainable wedding practice that you can >think of or have seen in your experience?
As cool as they are, I think destination weddings to remote islands are pretty consumptive. Luckily they're also usually pretty small, so let's hope that helps offset the impact.
6. Let's pretend for a moment that you could create one green invention in your life (that worked) what would it be?
Hm - what a difficult, broad question. Tiny, incredibly efficient, non-polluting, affordable power sources for everyone? Tricky! In the meantime, we can all just manage ourselves as thoughtfully as possible. Thanks Edith for your answers and artistic talent! G&G
Organic Indie Cakes in Oakland
An Interview with Indie CakesA little while ago, I introduced myself to a local cake baker, Anastasia, with Indie Cakes here in Oakland. I've gotten to know her a little more and was able to get some details about her and her business. She's sustainable, small, local and her baked goods are sooo good! We were able to hang out a little while ago at my house and she was nice enough to bring mini cupcakes in many different flavors. Yum Yum. They look so cute and their natural organic flavors were scrumptious. Take a look : Here's a closer look. From left to right, there's lemon, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, banana and raspberry. Here's what she had to say about her business and sustainable living: 1. Why did you start your business and how did you decide to get involved in making Organic cakes? I love baking and can't think of anything else I would do for living. I started my business because I wanted some flexibility with working hours. I have a 10-year-old daughter and I believe it's a critical time for me to be available for her. My decision to make cakes with organic and local ingredients is an extension to the choices I make in my personal life. I buy and cook organic food, so it only makes sense to me to sell products that I would eat and serve to my family. I also want to support local producers, keep the local economy going and do my part to save the environment. 2. How would you define sustainable living? To me, sustainable living starts with being mindful of my life and how my choices will impact those around me. I define sustainable living as being resourceful, finding ways to reuse and not waste and cutting down on consumerism. 3. What do you think is the biggest barrier in getting couples to choose a green/sustainable wedding? I think the biggest barrier for couples to choose a green/sustainable wedding is their their awareness of how much their weddings affect the environment. Once they believe that they can make a difference, green wedding will be the only way to go. 4. How is your business green/sustinable? What do you wish you could do or have to make it more green or better for people and the planet? I use organic and local ingredients. Any packaging I use, which is very little, is unbleached and the fiber comes from Sustainable Forestry Initiative lumber. For more info about these wonderful products visit here . I recycle all plastic, milk and egg cartons, paper, etc. I'm also looking into composting. I always try my best to not be wasteful. For example, I use egg whites for my buttercreams. The egg yolks will go into making lemon curd, pastry creams, or vanilla buttercakes. I use any extra batter to make tasting samples. Nothing goes into waste. One thing I wish to have someday is a hybrid or electric car. My car now is old but runs really well. It goes with my motto of if it still works, use it. 5. What is the most un-green or unsustainable wedding practice that you can think of or have seen in your experience? Destination weddings. All the time, effort, and resources to put these weddings together and to fly all the guests and, sometimes, the materials over are all unnesccesary and avoidable. 6. Let's pretend for a moment that you could create one green invention in your life (that worked) what would it be? I had this idea when my daughter was very young to create a cloth diaper that's (almost) as convenient as paper diapers. I use cloth diapers for her and found that putting on a diaper and the cover is a 2-step process and then having 2 items to wash (that didn't stop me for using it for 3 years, though). On the other hand, paper diapers come in one easy step. I would like to see a cloth diaper that has a built in cover, all in one piece, only one thing to wash, made with organic cotton.
For more information about her sustainable practices or to order a cake contact:
Anastasia Widiarsih www.indiecakes.com
In green and Yummy-ness,
Eco-Conscious Wedding in Mexico Part 1
The Breathtaking Wedding in BajaI was a generally conscious person, aware of the benefits of organic produce, recycling and carpooling. I even favor vintage designs, art and clothes and had become accustomed to recycling and selling my clothes for needed cash or shopping sprees (thanks Berkeley). But my when I became engaged to a vegan who had studied sustainable development, the eco-consciousness raising was significant. After we became engaged, we set forth to plan the most sustainable event we could. And when we picked our venue, we decided on a quaint place in Mexico. Generally, it's more sustainable to stick closer to home. The less you and your guests travel, the less gas and jet fuel is burned. But we chose Mexico for a few different reasons. One: we had free lodging and transportation available to us there since my parents and their neighbors offered their lodging and vehicles for our use. Two: we both resided in the Bay Area, but a good amount of our family and friends lived in San Diego and LA, and the location of our event was only about an hour or so below the San Diego/Mexico border. Three: it was a little easier on our pocket book. With the money we saved on location, we could spend on getting organic and local flowers and other items that would have been more expensive in the US. We also chose to offset the costs of our jet travel. For more information about traveling carbon neutral or even carbon offsetting gift certificates check out:
www.carbonfund.org[caption id="attachment_105" align="aligncenter" width="130" caption="carbon fund carbon offsets"][/caption]
www.terrapass.com[caption id="attachment_106" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Terrapass gift certificate"][/caption] After we booked the location, the next item was the dress. My dress. Partly because as a bride-to-be there is a lot of pressure out there from magazines and commercials to pick the perfect dress, and partly because I myself was fascinated with the process of finding one. I chose to search far and wide (mostly on the internet) for a used or recycled dress to my liking. But this was no easy task in 2007. There were but a couple of websites, and the pickings were dismally slim. Since then, new sites have popped up and the pickings are vast. Here are a few of the websites I ventured to and many new sites now selling used and recycled dresses:
www.preownedweddingdresses.comI myself found an older pronovias dress on ebay, for darn cheap. Now, it wasn't totally what I imagined, there was a lot of lace involved that didn't suit my taste, but the price was right and the fit and style was exactly what I wanted. I also know how to sew, so for a few weeks before the wedding I managed to take most of the lace off and recreate the top in a way I preferred.
Wedding photography by Erin Beach at www.erinbeach.comIf you are interested in doing the same and you don't sew, find a local seamstress/tailor and have them make the alterations. Not only can you get the perfect fit for your shape, you'll also be paying the worker fair wages and supporting a local business! After the dress, we did some event and dinner planning. We wanted to go vegan, but realizing that many people eat meat, we felt it was important to offer a few options. So, we offered plenty of vegan sides like beans and rice, fresh grilled vegetables and potatoes, organic spring salad, tortillas, guacamole and salsa. For the main dishes we offered locally caught fish and mango chicken. We also had an appetizer buffet of freshly made tacos of either fish or beans during cocktail hour. Those fish tacos were a huge hit and a Baja delicacy. Local food was definitely getting the spotlight, so tasty and fresh! I asked some friends to make some natural aguas frescas for guests who didn't want soda or wine. My mother contributed a few cases of great Mexican wine and sparking wine from a local Baja vineyard, Santo Tomas.
Find info here about Santo Tomas:We decided to go with a vegan and organic cake from a local bakery in San Diego: Stephanie's Bakery in Ocean Beach. What a remarkable flavor explosion! We chose three different cakes, mostly because we couldn't make up our minds. My favorite was the chocolate with chocolate and more chocolate. Can you tell I like chocolate? Along with the dress, food, cake and location, there were many other details that needed planning and greening. Please tune in next blog for more!