A market in Costa Mesa wants grocery shoppers to waste not in the name of our oceans

Jessica Walden holds a bottle of microplastic she pulled from Atlantic Ocean in her shop Amis de la Terre Zero-Waste Market.
Jessica Walden holds a bottle of microplastic she pulled from the Atlantic Ocean in her shop Amis de la Terre Zero-Waste Market on Thursday, Nov. 17 in Costa Mesa.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)
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Good morning! It’s Wednesday, Nov. 30. I’m Gabriel San Román, an Orange County Metro reporter for the Los Angeles Times, pinch-hitting for Carol Cormaci in bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

For one market in Costa Mesa, the ban on single-use plastic bags in California doesn’t go far enough.

Instead, shoppers arrive to Amis de la Terre Zero-Waste Market with jars and paper bags to stock up on fruits, grains, flour, vinegar, honey and even fair-trade chocolate snacks all while the grocer eliminates plastic packaging from such pantry staples.

Orange County’s first and only zero-waste grocer offers a unique peek into what a sustainable future away from plastic polluted oceans looks like on land.

The idealistic market is the brainchild of newlyweds Jessica Walden, 30, and Chris McGuire, 39, who are also doctoral students at UC Irvine’s Department of Earth Systems Science.

An O.C. native, Walden grew tired of collecting samples of ocean water and reliably finding hundreds of pieces of microplastics floating around.

As Daily Pilot reporter Sara Cardine noted in her story about the market, environmental scientists have predicted that plastic is set to outpace fish, pound for pound, in our oceans by 2050 if current consumption habits continue unabated.

All the while, fish consume microplastics that we in turn eat, either directly or through fish-fed livestock. A peer-reviewed study in March found 80% of humans tested showed microplastics in their blood.

This plastic proliferating future sure sounds heavier than a 50-pound sack of flour, doesn’t it?

Wanting to do something about it, Walden and McGuire opened Amis de la Terre, which means “Friends of the Earth” in French, in September.

“We wanted this place to be warm and inviting,” Walden told Cardine. “We’ve been to stores in other cities or countries and the ones that stuck with us are the ones that are warm and bright and welcoming.”

Shoppers will find rows of jars filled with healthy and organic food. There’s a simple weigh, tag and fill system that operates at Amis de la Terre. In addition to self-service, staff are on hand to help out.

Walden and McGuire found a fellow traveler along the sustainability path in the Costa Mesa business plaza where they opened up shop. Fill Up Buttercup, a zero-waste home and body refill store, sends its customers Amis de la Terre’s way and vice versa.

Taking the plastic-free mission into the community with a market has also given the academics a much needed break from the ivory tower echo chamber.

“It was like preaching to the choir,” McGuire said. “We needed to pivot and figure out a grassroots way to make a difference at the community level. Now, when people come in, we try to make it not only a shopping experience but an educational experience as well.”

Walden and McGuire still teach and research at UC Irvine but hope to expand their forward-thinking business to other locations throughout the county.

For now, Costa Mesa remains home base.

Amis de la Terre Zero-Waste Market is currently open Wednesdays through Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A portable sign warns drivers of a signal outage at the intersection of Atlanta Avenue and Brookhurst Street on Monday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)

MORE NEWS

— A man who opened fire in Costa Mesa on Thanksgiving Day, leaving one person dead and four others injured, turned himself into police Friday morning. Police identified the suspect as Lee Walker, 41, of Santa Ana. As reported by the Daily Pilot’s Eric Licas, the incident, which occurred at 6:50 p.m., is believed to have stemmed from a minor traffic collision. The homicide victim was identified as Lucas Rivera-Velasco, 30, of Costa Mesa.

A power outage on Sunday left thousands of Edison customers in and around Huntington Beach in the dark for several hours. An equipment failure around 6 p.m. near Brookhurst Street and Atlantic Avenue was to blame — again. Most traffic lights were up and running by 9:30 p.m. But Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa residents and business owners reported outages that lasted longer. A malfunction at the same intersection caused another hours-long outage last month.

— California Highway Patrol continues to look for a driver who hit multiple cars on the 405 Freeway in Costa Mesa Monday morning. Authorities believe the man, who drove a Toyota Camry Solara, swerved in and out of the carpool lane when traffic in front of him came to an abrupt stop. One driver sustained minor injuries and was transferred to Hoag Hospital. If apprehended, the man faces felony hit-and-run charges.

Cannabis sales could be coming soon to Huntington Beach, which would make Surf City one of just three cities in Orange County to allow weed dispensaries. The Huntington Beach City Council voted 4-2 on Nov. 15 to instruct staff to draft a zoning text amendment, which would delete the existing cannabis business prohibition in the city and allow cannabis activities.

— Laguna Beach plans to appoint Gavin Curran as its next assistant city manager and has made a pair of other hiring choices, according to a news release from the city: Michael Litschi will take on the role of overseeing a new transit and community services department, and Aggie Nesh is moving on from a manager role to director of human resources and risk management.

— A woman who survived an alleged rape attempt testified in court Tuesday and recounted her experience in 2019 when she was working as a cleaner at an Irvine business and a man pointed a replica gun at her and demanded sex. Footage played by prosecutors of the incident, caught on camera, drew gasps from the jury, according to reporter Eric Licas.

— A Huntington Beach historian and preservationist who advocated on behalf of Historic Wintersburg, the 4.5-acre Japanese American settlement in the city, has died. Mary Adams Urashima lost a two-year battle with cancer on Nov. 20.

LIFE & LEISURE

Huntington Beach Police Officer Mitch Martinez poses with his new partner, K9 Aero.
(Courtesy of the Huntington Beach Police Department)

— The newest member of the Huntington Beach Police Department is Aero, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois who was renamed in memory of an officer who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year. The young dog, who came from Germany and responds to commands in German, had adjusted to his new name as of late last week but didn’t immediately recognize it when he and his handler, Mitch Martinez, met about six weeks ago.

— Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach has been selected as a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School for 2022. To receive that recognition, a school must demonstrate inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement, according to a news feature on the honor by my colleague Matt Szabo.

Rye Goods, an organic sourdough bakery, opened a brand-new location in Tustin. It’s a return to the business’ rye roots. In 2016, Sara Lezama built a professional kitchen in the garage of her Tustin home and began baking until it became a full-time job. She eventually opened a bakery Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach amid the pandemic and is now eyeing a third location in Laguna Beach. Lezama hopes customers find all Rye Goods’ bakeries around O.C. nice places to loaf around!

— Newport Beach resident Nikki Chase and her “Adult Chicken” podcast are quickly becoming the talk of the town. With more than two dozen episodes in the can, Chase is making a name for herself with raw autobiographical tales of her childhood and domestic violence experiences. Overcoming adversity is a main theme of the podcast. The mother of two special needs kids, Chase records “Adult Chicken” at 4 a.m. and uploads episodes on YouTube.

— Dear Bella Creamery, a vegan ice cream parlor, has set up shop at the LAB Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa, as explained in a story by TimesOC reporter Sarah Mosqueda. The location is the first venture outside of Los Angeles for Alice Cherng and Belinda Wei, the pair of friends who started the business in 2017 after finding vegan desserts on the scene to be lacking a sweet tooth. Dear Bella Creamery now offers 16 flavors including rocky road and strawberry as well as a few tastes of Taiwan like black sesame.

The Laguna Beach football team with the 2022 CIF Southern Section Division 9 championship plaque.
The Laguna Beach football team poses for a picture with the 2022 CIF Southern Section Division 9 championship plaque on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

SPORTS

— Laguna Beach defeated Diamond Bar 36-28 in a high school football game for the history books. The Breakers hadn’t won a football championship since 1946, when Harry S. Truman was president, reports Daily Pilot sports writer Andrew Turner. Laguna Beach secured victory behind a dominant defensive performance in the third quarter that included two interceptions and a blocked punt. Next up for the Breakers: a CIF State Regional Championship Division 4-A bowl game against Granada Hills Charter (11-2) on Dec. 3.

— The Ocean View High School girls’ basketball team notched their fifth victory in a row when they bested Estancia High School in a blowout last Wednesday. Coach Ryan Hasegawa credits toughness, aggressiveness and ohana (“family” in Hawaiian) for his team’s recent successes. The Ocean View Seahawks stifled the Estancia Eagles in the second half and allowed only one field goal. “Moving forward, Ocean View’s going to be somebody that you’re going to want to look out for,” said Jaden Campuzano, a Seahawks team captain.

— When it comes to winning, the Anaheim Ducks have been down on their luck. The hockey team lost for the fifth time in six games on Sunday when the Seattle Kraken handed them a 5-4 defeat. The Ducks currently sit in last place in the NHL’s Pacific Division. “When you’re rebuilding a team, it’s every day there’s something to work on,” said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. “We’re trying to fix every part of the game.”

"Harry Potter" stars Emma Watson, left, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.
“Harry Potter” stars Emma Watson, left, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.
(HBO Max)

CALENDAR THIS

— ‘Tis the season for tamales! The ninth annual La Habra Tamale Festival brings the masa to the masses at Portola Park, 301 S. Euclid St., this weekend. In addition to vendors selling a variety of tamales to keep us stuffed during the holidays, the festival also features live performances, seasonal fireworks and a tree lighting ceremony. The festival runs Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.

— Get those wands ready. The Frida Cinema in downtown Santa Ana is hosting a two-night Harry Potter movie marathon beginning on Saturday at noon. That’s when the first four films of the saga based on J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novels will be screened at the independent theater. The last four films are scheduled for next weekend. Tickets for Saturday’s movie marathon are $30. The Frida Cinema is also offering a $50 bundle for both weekends.

— It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Fullerton. The annual winter market and tree-lighting ceremony are coming to the Downtown Fullerton Plaza, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. Kick-start holiday shopping with local vendors, grab a drink at the beer garden and have the kids take a picture with Santa Claus!

KEEP IN TOUCH

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We appreciate your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Please send news tips, your memory of life in O.C. or comments to carol.cormaci@latimes.com.