Everybody knows fresh tastes better. Living on the islands, I find one day old fish is rather unacceptable to my palate; I'm sure most would agree. In that same vein of thinking, could you imagine if we had the luxury of demanding only the freshest of meat and vegetables? Say, greens that had been picked the day you were purchasing or eating them?
I'm not out to horrify anyone here, but the facts are in: On the mainland, the average carrot travels over 1,500 miles before reaching a dinner plate. Now, consider Hawaii as the most isolated landmass in the world—one that imports more than two-thirds of its food. It goes without saying that this food either has to be treated, preserved (nearly always with foreign or unnatural chemicals) or frozen, each of which poses various threats.
As our population explodes—not just here on the islands, but world wide—industrial agriculture has had to keep up with demand. Yet it's come at a cost: The increasingly negative affects on human health.
Mass-produced and packaged foods are at greater threats of containing bacteria, pesticides, antibiotic residue and artificial hormones. Essentially, the longer our food is "en route", the greater the possibility of it not only losing vital nutrients, but it becomes downright contaminated. We've heard plenty lately about all the fossil fuels used in packing and transporting our products for food consumption, and how it's causing worldwide environmental threats. As oil gets more expensive, every community will need to begin addressing its own food needs. Due to our remote location, life in Hawaii demands it.
The solution to all this misery is so simple: Small sustainable farms, which produce healthy, high quality food, decreases risks to your health and, while supporting the local economy.
Here lies a great opportunity for you, the Hawaii consumer. We have beneath us not only some of the most beautiful land in the world, but the most fertile. We're also blessed with skilled craftsmen and keepers of the aina, not to mention the unique nature of our mutli-cultural makeup. If there were ever a state in our nation poised to be sustainable, we have all the tools, talent and incentive we could ever need. Education is key; awareness is essential.
This month's 13th Annual Made in Hawaii Festival will attract more than 35,000 people who will support local artisans, growers, producers and so on. These same people travel from local, independent stores to farmers markets and so on. Get to the festival and meet some of these people. It's important that you know where you buy local product, so you can do it as often as you can.
The Made in Hawaii Festival runs from August 15th to 17th at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena. The festival features more than 400 booths that sell everything and anything made across the Hawaiian Island chain, from food to clothing to lauhala products, plants, produce and much more.
The festival takes place Friday and Saturday, August 15 - 16, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, August 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." ~Native American Proverb