Categorized | Agriculture

And the eat goes on …

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Andrea Dean

Now that the whirlwind that was the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign and the Kanu Eat local challenge has subsided, I have a few minutes to reflect upon the project.

In North Kohala we met our goal of enlisting over 100 people to make an “eat local” commitment at during the statewide Eat Local Challenge.

Andrea Dean

In conjunction with our many community partners, we produced 13 different events in North Kohala and Waimea – workshops where people learned how to grow food and to use it for medicine, parties where we got to eat, drink and be merry, we screened a film, and we washed, cut, cooked and ate together as a community. We touched thousands of people statewide with our outreach campaign and hundreds of people in North Kohala and Waimea who attended our events.

So… was the campaign successful? I suppose it is my personal curse that I only see what remains to be done. I have this internal needle in my brain, like a gas gauge in a car, which is pointed at 90 percent imported food. I want to see the needle go down, to move towards import empty and local full.

This is not to be accomplished in one week, but is a long-term effort, with many different people and organizations working on different parts of the pie.

Many of the changes we need to make are systemic- access to land and water, training new farmers, creative ways to make the economics of local farming work and making our own on-farm fertilizers, just to name a few.

In addition to tackling these larger issues, I remain committed to the concept that individual action does make a difference.

According to the Kanu Hawaii website, our collective “eat local” commitments in North Kohala kept $46,000 in the local economy.

There is great power in the collective “I will…” as we continue to adjust our growing, eating and spending habits to reflect our local-centric values. It may not seem like it, but so much has already been accomplished in a relatively short time frame.

To raise awareness about eating locally grown, I committed to eating 100 percent locally grown for 60 days. (See my blog for my successes and confessions.)

In a conversation with Amada Rieux, Malaai Garden leader she commented about how much easier my local foods experiment has been this time around.

She said, “The foodscape had really changed in the four years since you did your last 90 day eat local challenge. The food stores have way more local food and the farmers markets have really grown. The Waimea farmer’s market used to have only four booths. Now there are a few farmers markets in Waimea.”

Amanda is right, locally grown food seems to be much more available now than it was four years ago. As I was out in the community asking people to take the Eat Local Challenge I was hearing – “that is easy, I get my CSA box every week,” “no problem I get all my veggies at the farmer’s market.”

One of the changes that I have made during my eat local challenge has been the transition to using local starches. Learning how to prepare and enjoy breadfruit, taro and cassava has been a rich experience for me.

There were times when I really just wanted to grab a slice of bread and run out the door, but the discipline of preparing my own staple foods has been a good one. I won’t say that I will never eat bread again, but I will say that consistently eating the starch staples that come from our aina is a key to increasing your own and the island’s food self-sufficiency. It also feels great in my body.

Back to the big question … was the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign and the Kanu Eat Local Challenge successful?

As we work together as a community to take on the big challenges of our time, one measure of our success is how we work together and interact with one another. We know that this effort was successful by the amount of people and organizations who stepped up to the plate to participate in the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign, and by the fact that we all had fun while working and eating together!

I was recently at a dinner with a number of farmer/local foods advocates and these two thoughts were proffered, “The strongest groups are the ones that are having fun” and “If you want to have a better culture, throw a better party.”

The most successful things we did during North Kohala Eat Locally Grow Campaign were the activities that directly connected people to food – while having fun.

Eating a 100 percent locally grown, organic dinner while watching belly dancing? Where else can you do that?

Attending a mini-workshop on banana propagation, eating another 100 percent locally grown, organic dinner, and then dancing into the night to the grooves of the Peace Tribe? Yes!

Processing breadfruit, coconuts, citrus and much more all together and enjoying a gourmet meal? Let’s do it again!

Serving local fruit snacks to children at the Discovery Garden at Kohala Elementary? Lots of hot, sticky, dirty fun there!

Conversing with and cooking for with Kohala’s Seniors? Immensely satisfying!

Going out to eat in our local restaurants with friends and ordering the Eat Local special? Delicious!

Please check out the photos and videos of the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign at and let us know if you think we are having enough fun, while building the food culture of our future.

And … I would also love to hear your ideas for expanding and improving upon the campaign for next year.

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