Making democracy — and deliciousness — work. Photo by Alec MacDonald.

End-of-year holidays are upon us, although the season doesn’t feel so festive under our current pandemic circumstances. Yet while the social gatherings typical for this time of year are not advisable right now, you can still safely savor the indulgent spreads usually served at those gatherings. And fewer people to please means fewer food restrictions, presenting a ripe opportunity to get experimental with your menus.

One way to freshen things up is to let plants dominate, which can not only boost the nutritional value of your meal, but will also help the environment. Leslie Stewart delves into this in her article for the December 2020/January 2021 Monitor, explaining how our food choices affect our climate. She highlights recent efforts by the nonprofit Acterra to reduce the carbon footprint of our diets, including an event with local chefs who shared some of their favorite seasonal and sustainable dishes. The presentation by Lenore Estrada, co-founder and owner of Three Babes Bakeshop in San Francisco, inspired the Monitor’s own pastry pursuit showcased above and on the back cover of this edition of the magazine.

As for our front cover, rest assured it conveys no culinary angle, despite what you may have heard about the gourmet potential of frog legs. The featured amphibian — being held by ecologist Jackie Charbonneau in a photo by David Riensche — is a California red-legged frog, and it is protected by federal and state law. You can read more about the efforts of Charbonneau and other conservationists to bolster the habitat of this species in Robin Meadows’ article. Aleta George will keep you in nature with an examination of how military veterans find therapeutic benefits in outdoor recreation, while Cecily O’Connor explores a similar concept in a different setting for her article about slow streets programs.

And with that, we’re just about ready to wrap up 2020 — right after we acknowledge recent donations from readers Mary Ann Benson, Patricia Boyle, Gloria Chun Hoo, Virginia Kamp, Maude Pervere, Emily Schmidt, Steve and Wendy Smit, and Winifred Walters. If you care to join these generous folks in supporting the Monitor, please do so at

In any case, we thank you for your readership, and wish you a safe and restorative holiday season leading into what will hopefully be a much less tumultuous new year.

Alec MacDonald
Editor, Bay Area Monitor