Santa Monica’s Own Humane Heroes

By Qin Sun Stubis

(originally published in The Santa Monica Star)

ching bioFor most of my life, I have lived in some of the world’s most populous cities, from Shanghai to New York, and now Washington. So, it is not too surprising that no matter where I go, I am always bumping into people from my old “hometowns.”

However, I am still amazed by how often I cross paths with remarkable, talented people who hail from Santa Monica. After writing for this newspaper for nearly ten years, this special place has become very dear to my heart.

I feel as if I have become an honorary resident, getting to know so many residents of this small town through my column, email, social media, and personal introductions from my close friend, publisher Diane Margolin. Still, with a population of less than ninety thousand, I am always surprised to constantly make new friends from Santa Monica 3,000 miles away from here in Washington, D.C.

Mika and HelenaRecently, I made the acquaintance of a very special couple who had come to Capitol Hill to take part in a Congressional briefing with the American Humane Association to champion humane farm practices. I met Mika Manninen and Helena Lumme, a devilishly good-looking couple who have been residents of Santa Monica for more than 11 years. Their adventurous spirits took them from Helsinki, Finland to Santa Monica. Along the way, they published the books, Great Women of Film, Billboard Books, 2002, and Screenwriters: America’s Storytellers in Portrait (Angel City Press, 1997), directed music videos, ran advertising agencies, and won numerous food awards for a special vegan beverage called Simpli OatShake.

When they had trouble finding humanely-raised, non-GMO meat products for their own kitchen table, Mika and Helena rolled up their sleeves and decided to raise their own, giving birth to their newest passion, a natural and humane food company called Scandinavian Meat Masters.

The company just recently won accreditation by the American Humane Certified program, the country’s first and largest third-party audit farm animal welfare program.

After several years of hard work by Mika and Helena, working with carefully selected, caring farmers raising animals under American Humane Association’s strict guidelines, these Santa Monicans are getting ready to put humane and non-GMO foods on Americans’ dinner tables. You can find their products in Whole Foods under the “Pederson’s Natural Farms” label.

Later in 2016, they’ll also bring out their own line of products under the Scandinavian Meat Masters name.

When asked what brought them to Santa Monica, out of all the places they could have ventured in the world, Helena replied: “Santa Monica is a perfect place for us. It offers the healthy outdoor living we love. It is not only a beautiful small town with great beaches and clean air, but it is still part of the Greater L.A. area.”

Santa Monica is the perfect small town for Mika and Helena, where the ambitions and dreams of two local humane heroes can grow big enough to reach all Americans, including me, here in D.C.

You can always reach me at

Qin is a longtime columnist of ours who lives in Bethesda, MD.

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