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Archive for the ‘locavore’ Category

What is it about farmers?  I find them the most interesting and compelling people. Ok. I grew up on a mono-crop/obsolete-colonial model ag operation, and both sides of my family have been agripreneurs with various vineyard, ranching, dairy and commercial crop enterprises — so it’s not entirely a surprise.

Rob is poster child for the new generation of farmers.  His background is in web design, and he had integrated that skill set into his recently acquired agricultural knowledge. He gives the Go Farm program much credit. My apologies to GoFarm and Steven Chiang, somehow in the process of clipping your video, an unusual contemporary art element was added.

Although we have several mutual acquaintances, this was the first time I met Rob Barreca. Did we have too much fun? Although we have several mutual acquaintances, this was the first time I met Rob Barreca.  You be the judge…certainly enough fun for a hana hou show.

LINKS

Go Farm Hawai’i

Mahi’ai Match-Up

Friends with Farms

Counter Culture Food + Ferments

 

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3 lb. bag of ginger sold at Costco

My love/hate relationship with Costco continues.  I am recently guilty of buying two gallons of OJ because it was less than the price of two, 1/2 gallons, at KTA.  Now I’m giving 2 of the four 1/2 gallons away so it doesn’t go bad.  The Little Green Book of Shopping by Diane Millis says something like 30% of food is wasted in the UK and US. That’s a bit excessive.

In a tweet last summer I ranted,  “Costco is selling Mexican(small logo) mangoes distr. in CA (large print) in PLASTIC & cardboard in Hawai’i- PROTEST!!” What I couldn’t include with only 140 characters, was what I said to the unfortunate frazzled Mom  standing next to me who wanted to buy them. “Are you really going to buy mangoes from Mexico during mango season in Hawai’i?”  I asked incredulously.  She didn’t appear to be a wholesaler, judging from the contents of her cart.  She said something about their tree didn’t have any, which is plausible. We only got a couple dozen up in Holualoa, it’s been so dry.  Still, it seems a weak reason to buy produce from 2500 miles away when better quality of the same item is available down the street.  But who has time to go down the street when you are looking for healthy snacks for a Cub Scout meeting, as this innocent consumer was?

The packaging was just so over-the-top, it triggered  my Joan of Locavore ire.  First, the misleading labeling, graphically designed to disguise the foreign origin of the mangoes.  Then, the plastic space bubbles–individual depressions in the plastic for each mango, and surrounding that a cardboard retro-flat crate.  It’s cheap enough with all that packaging expense that they are bought “wholesale” at Costco and resold at the Kona Farmer’s Market on Ali’i Drive to unsuspecting shoppers assuming they are local.  Yes, I fact checked.  This is so wrong on so many levels.

All that is to say I have some negative feelings about Costco.  The positives are obvious; price, return policy, and they do sell locally sourced goods, including local  produce (even organic).  That’s how I found out the good news about the ginger.

A previous blog mentions Ken Love‘s story about ginger.  He wrote an excellent article about the real problems with mislabeled produce: http://blogs.hawaiibusiness.com/2010/10/08/hawaiian-ginger-product-of-china/.  Ginger is one of the scary stories with roots from China, North America, and Hawai’i in the same bin at the grocery store.  I had to put on my glasses to find out the Costco ginger was local.

DISTRIBUTED BY: CHRISTOPHER RANCH, GILROY CA 95020 GROWN AND PACKED IN HAWAII

It looked local, but the display didn’t mention local produce or Hawai’i grown.  The brand, Christoper Ranch from California, is famous for their garlic.

So good things are happening, even if it’s not obvious.  Ginger growers in Hawai’i have found a way to sell their produce to a larger market.  Hawaiian ginger is making a name for itself in the world.

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The most useful blog in my world is Hawaii Agriculture. They keep current, and really cover the field (and sometimes stray into the ocean and forest.)  A recent post alerted me to potential perils in the produce section: http://hawaii-agriculture.com/hawaii-agriculture-blog/west-hawaii-today-features-food-sustainability-a-kona-vores-dilemma, right here in Kona.  The issue is produce that isn’t local, being sold as such,  sometimes mixed into the same bin with local produce.  Talk about a hot topic for local farmers!

But I was just thinking about what to cook for dinner while shopping the next day at my favorite local natural food store, Island Naturals Market & Deli.  I like them so much I kind of felt bad about writing  this post, but hey, as ye show, so shall ye reap.   I found some gorgeous organic courgettes.  No price, no problem, friendly Produce Man is 6 feet away.  He dug around and put up the tag.   The price for not going to the Farmer’s market, $2.99 a lb, but they are deep green, and gorgeous, and . . . they’re from MEXICO???

Trying to stay off my soap-box, I  said to Produce Man as innocently as I could, “the tag says ‘Mainland,’ but the labels say they’re from Mexico (organic at least).”   He stuttered a bit and said something about only having “local” and “mainland” tags, and admitted there was a problem with about four of their products.  I couldn’t help saying, “Hawaii’ is my mainland, by the way, but the point is Mexico is a foreign country with different standards for organic.”

“I’m from Sweden,”  he smiled, ”  I see your point, and I hope by the next time you come in we’ll have that fixed.”  He could have argued that there are more Kona area residents native to Mexico, than are native to any other of the “States” not on the West Coast.  Like I said,  Produce Man is a nice guy. Now that I’ve done some research, it looks like Mexico’s standards are ok.  STILL!   I had to go back the next day as it turns out, and the signs remained the same– but that’s not much of a grace period for corporate policy changes.

A few days later I’m at my favorite conventional supermarket, KTA.  The same cute Mexican courgettes with the yellow label (my phone camera doesn’t have a flash) are in the organic produce section.

the pretty courgettes from Mexico

The nearest origin tags say “product of USA.”   KTA has tracks on the shelf edges to put the tags on, and they don’t specifically reference the item they refer to.   So, I just turned the “product of USA”  label over.

Back to the Hawaii Agriculture blog.  What about local-not-necessarily-organic  vs organic imports? The BBC writes in a great little article, “Local food is usually more “green” than organic food, according to a report published in the journal Food Policy.”

PS-

Safeway’s label takes the cake for localwannabe:

product of Kenya

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