Attorney Jeff Gilles was enjoying a copy of Edible Monterey Bay magazine at a local café, when he began to pay particular attention to the issues and ideas shared within the stories. Reading articles about local champions of fresh, sustainable, nutritious food, he realized that EMB and his firm, L+G Attorneys at Law, were advocating for very similar causes.
“I recognized that there is a good tie between Edible Monterey Bay and our law firm,” says Gilles. “Right then I decided to sponsor the magazine in support of our mutual interests. For example, the legal team at L+G steps outside the office to advance our advocacy for healthy lifestyles among the children and youth in our communities.”
When Gilles began his legal career in 1979 as corporate counsel for Bruce Church—a grower, shipper and processor of fresh vegetables in Salinas—he sent his roots deep, with a keen understanding that agriculture dominates the economy of this area, and he had a responsibility to respect and protect it. Six years later, he founded his own law firm, specializing in agriculture and real estate interests, among them agribusiness, company formation, food safety, and organic mergers and standards.
It was Gilles who, in the mid 1980s, represented the agriculture interests in the formation of Natural Selection Foods, doing business as Earthbound Farms. In 1998, Gilles merged his law firm with Lombardo & Associates, to create L+G Attorneys at Law, which continues to focus on ag issues, including food safety, water, land use and labor.
Through workshops and forums, L+G endeavors to help grammar school through high school students become better acquainted with fruits and vegetables and other nutritious choices, teaching them how to make the right decisions regarding eating well.
“Diabetes,” he says, “is one of the largest epidemics on the Central Coast, so we are trying to get kids to bypass that and grow up with healthy eating habits.”
Because food safety is a public healthy priority for L+G Attorneys at Law, the firm works with food safety affiliate Recall Ready, a proactive, collaborative organization launched in 2012, whose mission is to prepare L+G ag clients for any recall issues that may come up related to food safety.
“In working with Recall Ready, which helps companies prevent, plan and respond in the event of a food safety recall, L+G is going outside the law firm and into the community to take the lead where we have expertise, and our partners can collaborate to the benefit of our clients,” says office manager Trinh Retterer.
Another heath concern close to the core values of L+G is heart disease. Gilles lost his father to a massive heart attack at 51, when he was just 14. Ten years ago, when Gilles reached 51, he was challenged to don a red dress in support of National Wear Red Day and the Go Red for Women campaign, soliciting donations, door to door, from his clients. He raised more than $52,000.
Now nearly 61, Gilles plans to slip into that same red dress, if it will have him, and make an appearance at Zeph’s One Stop wine and beer bar in Salinas on February 6, where L+G is hosting a Red Day benefit. Wear red, make a $15 donation, and enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers on the firm. Gilles and his legal team will match any donation made between 5 and 6:30 pm.
“Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in the United States,” says Gilles, “claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. It is incumbent upon us to do our part. Although this year, when I wear that dress, I’m going to make sure I wear nylons. I was cold! Now I understand why women wear stockings in the wintertime.”
318 Cayuga St., Salinas
A fifth-generation Northern Californian, Lisa Crawford Watson has enjoyed a diverse career in business, education and writing. She lives with her family on the Monterey Peninsula, where her grandmother once lived and wrote. An adjunct writing instructor for CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College, Lisa is also a free-lance writer, who specializes in the genres of art & architecture, health & lifestyle, food & wine. She has published various books and thousands of feature articles and columns in local and national newspapers and magazines.