I've been in Seattle, land of construction cranes, low gray skies, $2 million dollar homes with yard signs outlining the occupants' philosophical beliefs and coffee shops.
In one neighborhood, I saw three coffee shops all in a row, each with its own personality, and each one bustling in the late afternoon. Even McDonald's was advertising $2 lattes and mochas.
But Seattlites need their coffee to stay awake and alert in their somnambulent, soggy climate. Fortunately, the newest dietary guidelines indicate that “habitual caffeine intake up to 400 mg per day is safe for adults,” and most people are staying within those limits. What's more, caffeine also appears to offer health benefits. Its consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
The city is also filled with restaurants featuring farm-to-fork fare. And why not? The ag-friendly corridor that stretches from Vancouver south into Oregon produces a plethora of fresh food that easily finds its way into local eateries and markets. Locally-produced, relatively inexpensive food — veggies, fruit, livestock, cheese — is such a familiar facet of life in the Northwest that folks here tend to believe everyone everywhere can — indeed, should — eat that way.
But then you have to deliver a wake up call: Uh, have you ever been to Detroit? In the winter?
Their easy acceptance of agriculture contrasts with the constant push-pull in Hawaii, where many folks claim to want local food — so long as it's not produced within sight, sound or smell of their world. That stance was perfectly personified by Dr. Monroe Richman's ill-informed, paranoic rant against the proposed Mahaulepu dairy. What's that old saying? Better to be thought a fool than to write a letter to the editor that confirms it.
Richman isn't the only one raving. It's been amusing to see the many conspiracy theories advanced against the dairy, most recently by the Hawaii Free Press, which reinterprets the press release from Hawaii Dairy Farms:
Today the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that Hawaii Dairy Farms is now required to do an Environmental Impact Statement, which revokes all of our permits and approvals to date. While this news is disappointing for Hawaii Dairy Farms, we believe it could be devastating for animal agriculture in Hawaii.
(Translation: Our boss, luxury resort developer Pierre Omidyar, has achieved his hidden goal. By voluntarily filing an EIS for our dairy farm on Kauai, Omidyar has now brought about a court ruling for the first time ever mandating EIS for farmers statewide. Next year, the Legislature will be expected to act. And the best part—Omidyar looks like the victim here when he is actually the perpetrator.
Omidyar's minions sound soooo sincere. They really have no idea what their boss is up to.)
I think the dairy's floundering and missteps are more likely due to plain old ineptitude by its parent organization, Ulupono Initiative, than any grand plan to surreptiously derail agriculture. Bankrolled by Omidyar's Ebay fortune, it represents yet another of his vanity dalliances aimed at shaping the sociopolitical climate of Hawaii. But like Civil Beat, the dream so often fails in the execution.
Shoots, Ulupono actually believes its goal for “more sustainable local food” can be realized by blowing $351,663 on do-nothing groups like Malama Kauai, the failed Utopian dream of another (though far less flush) tech entreprenuer, Chris Jaeb.
Even though it's funnelled a pile of dough into so-called “sustainable” ag projects, Ulupono hasn't been able to appease the antis. Heck, the anti-ag folks on
Maui correction, Big Island, even
brought over Kauai's Friends of Mahaulepu to help them oppose an
Ulupono-funded dairy there by protesting at a town hall meeting last
Ulupono has apparently failed to realize that conflict activism is a business model for some of these groups, so they ain't never gonna be happy.
Which is why I barely raised an eyebrow when I saw this post from Ashley Lukens at Hawaii Center for Food Safety:
Gosh, Ashley, aren't you and your acolytes, and the other antis from HAPA and Hawaii SEED and and Earthjustice, going to supply our fish and food? I mean, you keep telling everybody how they can't do this or that, while demanding more local food. So when are you actually going to put your elbow grease where your mouth is?
Oh, that's right. I forgot. You don't actually produce anything other than pilikia and propaganda.
It had been probably 30 years since I was last in Seattle, and though it's grown tremendously in that time, it still appeals. I can understand why Hawaii folks like Seattle. It's got the same close connection with the water, and the damp grayness creates a softness similar to the Islands. Until the wind gusts, and then it's brrrr.....
I could only smile when a group of Seattlites, walking between tall buildings, saw the clouds part, revealing a patch of sunlight. Out came the sunglasses. “Let's go stand in it,” one woman said eagerly.
Their eyes light up at the mention of Hawaii — the place that so many of them choose to visit when the winter gloom gets to them.
So I don't think they, or the other 8 million tourists who visit Hawaii every year, will be dissuaded by The Juice Media's hackneyed anti-tourism video —made, ironically, by an Aussie tourist who was “enlightened” during his visit to the Islands:
Aloha! I had the magical opportunity to visit Hawai'i at the start of the month and talk with local and native Hawaiians. They all said the biggest problem they face is the fact that so few people are aware of the history of ongoing US military occupation. So on my return to Australia, I decided to make a video about it.
Really? A lack of awareness about the overthrow and militarism in Hawaii is the biggest problem Hawaiians face?
I hate to break the news, but after spending a lot of time on the mainland in recent years, the hard cold fact is this: they don't give a shit about the reality of Hawaii. They just wanna get warm and have fun in the "magical" paradise that has been so successfully packaged and sold in the global marketplace.
As this gawd awful piece in the NYT makes clear.
And they're gonna keep on coming, until too many have bad experiences, or climate change kills the trades and Hawaii starts to swelter like Guam.