Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Musings: Eat It

First, the anti-ag activists complained about Maui sugar, filing numerous smoke complaints, and ultimately a lawsuit, all aimed at shutting down Hawaii's last sugar plantation.

Now that sugar is dead, and HC&S is striving to keep the land in viable ag production, they're complaining about the decision to run cattle on some of the acreage.

In a letter to the editor of Maui News, Stephen Beidner, who variously lists his address as Kula and Paia, writes:

Raising cattle on Maui will foul our air, water and land. Grasses grown to feed the cattle on poisoned sugar cane land will poison the cattle and the humans who consume the final products. Are we going to replace the sugar museum with tours of slaughterhouses?

Surely we can use this precious land for something better, like growing real food: fruits and vegetables.

Oh, yeah. Mo bettah to let the invasive species take over so the albezzia, African tulip trees and guinea grass have to be removed with heavy equipment before the land can be returned to production. Or turn into gentleman's estates, hotels and shops. Because those uses have zero impacts. Ya, right.

Turns out Stephen, a member of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii, was one of those complaining about the cane smoke and dust. But is he willing to actually get out there and grow the fruits and vegetables he envisions? So much easier to bitch and tell someone else to do it as he tries to impose his own dietary choices on everyone else.

And what's with this claim that the land is “poisoned?” I saw that assertion as well in a comment left by the Maluhia Group — an organization of ignorant teachers and staff sadly involved with educating children at Waimea Canyon Middle School:

Historical and modern agriculture practices have resulted in large areas of Hawaii farm lands unusable for food production.

Like where? Shoots, even the Moloaa land that grew chem-intensive pineapple is now being used for organic farms.

The Maluhia Group comment was left on an article promoting a $45 book from University of Hawaii Press: “Food and Power in Hawai‘i: Visions of Food Democracy.” Unfortunately, the catalog doesn't disclose who wrote the nine essays that comprise the book.

But a few things in the press release about the book did catch my eye:

While it is important for farms to maintain economic viability, the value of agriculture in Hawai‘i goes beyond its economic contribution as it provides opportunities for people to engage in food citizenship.

What is food citizenship? Here is the definition provided under this image:
The term Food Citizenship is defined as “engaging in food related behaviors that support, rather than threaten, the development of a democratic, socially and economically just, and environmentally sustainable food system”.

Or as the book's editor, Krisnawati Suryanata, puts it:

The concept is how to broaden public participation in reshaping our own agriculture system.

OK, that explains why so many people are so keen to weigh in on how agriculture is conducted in the Islands. But like so many other purely academic discussions, it fails to address such nitty-gritty practicalities as who is going to actually get their hands dirty? 

And should people who don't know WTF they're talking about — people who believe applying salt to the land is a good way to control weeds, people who can see no reason why everything shouldn't be produced organically, though they've never even grown a garden — be allowed to weigh in on the discussion, much less shape important food policies?

Aya Hirata Kimura, one of the other editors, offered this quote to The Garden Island:

“I sympathize with the investments in local food but at the same time I feel the arguments for localization of food are simplistic. If the goal is maximizing the volume of food in the quickest way, the quickest way to do that is with modernized farming and intensively chemical farming and is that what people want?”

I agree that the arguments for the localization of food are simplistic. They fail to take into account the high cost of producing food in Hawaii, the challenge of feeding some 8 million tourists, the realities that food can be produced and processed much less expensively on the mainland due to economies of scale. So yeah, it's good to be talking about that.

But Kimura then goes on to show her bias — and her ignorance — by offering her assumption that the quickest way to do that is through “intensively chemical farming,” a term that is essentially meaningless, but loaded with pejoratives.

And is anyone really serious about doing away with “modernized farming?” What does that even mean? A return to the o'o? Oxen pulling a plow? Women and children engaged in hand-weeding? Using nightsoil in the fields?

The book's description offers more insight into what is really behind so much of the modern food movement:

Given the island geography, high dependency on imported food has often been portrayed as the primary challenge in Hawai`i, and the traditional response has been localized food production. The book argues, however, that aspects such as differentiated access, the history of colonization, and the neoliberalized nature of the economy also need to be considered for the right transformation of our food system.

There is no question that the modern food system can be improved. But it has effectively delivered more food — safely, reliably and at affordable prices — than ever before in history.

So before we let the academics, activists and foodies start tinkering with it too dramatically as part of a larger socio-political agenda — "democratic ownership of food resources and policies at all scales, and not merely the local level or even the nation-state"  we should consider the implications — hunger, famine, high food prices — if they're wrong.


Anonymous said...

Farming is hard; bitching is not and so..... the bitching continues.

Love how people who do not own the land have a better plan than those who do.

Anonymous said...

ms. joan, these antis no stop yeah? look like going get worse! anyway, Merry Christmas to you!

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in this world there's a place where all these people can go and let us live in peace where they don't have to save us from ourselves.

Anonymous said...

"poisoned sugar cane land"

Slanderous and unchallenged ignorance purposely designed to promote a narrative of fear and anger at a selected target.

Unknown said...

This program is open to native Hawaiians

Anonymous said...

I own land and I farm organically (and use no "organic pesticides" either). It's a lot easier than the pro gmo/ Cornell 12 week geniuses want you to believe. I can survive comfortably from eating the food I grow and so could about 20 people. Everybody on Kauai could grow food and do the same with little trouble. Kauai is not Nebraska, nor India, nor Africa, ... Kauai should worry about Kauai. When we solve our food problems, importing most of our food, we can work on saving the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Joan You are great.
Perhaps you can take today off. It is the shortest day and your deserve a break.
With all of the BS on Ag you are the only source of news.

As we deal with Traffic, high taxes, higher rents, no housing etc.
Our County is out of touch with the people. Maybe we need a Trump to knock out all of the nonsense rules and laws. Wasteful spending on Brain Dead Lihue/Rice Street remodels etc. And Mt Yukimura grows to astonishing heights. Not one new idea. No leadership. Waste and spend and tax some more.
Maybe Trump will do the right thing and DENY ALL FED dollars for Lihue, The Oahu Rail and other limp wrist feel good baloneys.
All it takes is to divert some Fed bucks to widening the highways and forcing the State to allow housing on the fallow Ag lands. then maybe some benefit for the 2000 Kuai people that are doubled up in their parents houses.
Our Council......200 million a year from Kauai citizens. Untold millions from the State and Feds........and what do we get?
Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas. God Bless us all and be grateful for the few things the government still allows us to enjoy as they tax and pass laws that restrict our freedom.

Anonymous said...

10:10 AM, then start sharing with everyone how you are doing this, and please be thorough and complete when you communicate. Transparency is a good thing, yes?

Manuahi said...

So 10:10 AM do you make enough money farming not only to entirely feed yourself but to raise enough surplus food to sell and generate enough income to pay for your insurances, car, mortgage or rents, taxes, retirement savings, medical and other insurances, utilities, fuel, etc., etc. and still have enough to build a rainy day fund for emergencies? I BET NOT! I bet that you have other sources of income (a job, pension, trust fund, etc.) to pay your living expenses. It's easy to grow enough food to feed a few people (vegetarians all I'm sure), but difficult at best too generate enough money for living expenses plus save enough money to fund your estate taxes on that valuable land when you die. But then you post anonymously so no one can verify your claims. Any land that you could buy and own here that is large enough to feed 21+ people means you had a sizable chunk of money to invest. I'd love to see your numbers and your return on equity. Frankly, I believe you're all bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Joan I can not believe a woman of your integrity would use the title of your latest blog post "eat It " without crediting Weird Al Yankovic for the title

Anonymous said...

Joan. Please give credit to Weird Al Yankovic for the title of your latest blog posting. One of the best sond/video/ spoofs ever. Michael Jackson

Anonymous said...

Weird Al didn't create the words "eat it". Most children were frequently told "Eat it!" by their parents when they left vegetables on their plates. You peeps are reaching to the point of absurdity in your efforts to discredit Joan.

Anonymous said...

10:10am - you are such an amazing person. We would surely all benefit from learning more of how you do it. Please enlighten us.

Unknown said...

@ 10:10 am... Nebraska exports 90 % of our food, so by your logic, I should be well adapted to educate others on how to improve production AG systems. That would explain why I was asked to travel to Africa to help those farmers improve their white corn production. Your organic system is one of many viable systems and I'm happy it works for you.

Anonymous said...

Manuahi, you always make it sound so complicated. Your name makes it seem like you are a local but your comments lead me to believe you arrived on Kauai not to long ago. As for me, I arrived pre Californicatition with a couple thousand dollars, a backpack, and two surfboards. I took a job nobody wanted working with troubled teens and lived in a room in Lihue for $200 a month. After saving for 5 years I was able to get a high interest Federal Farm Loan and bought land. I grow lots of food. It's not as hard as many of you want to pretend. I eat some, sell some, and give some away. I don't need to go to the store for any food. I am mostly vegetarian like you suggested but do occasionally harvest the wild chickens and pigs that also enjoy the fruits of my labor when their numbers get to high. I was lucky to get land before it got unreasonably expensive. Anybody can grow food on their land on Kauai. It is not hard.

Anonymous said...

If the "poisoned land" would poison the grass and thus the cattle that eat the grass and the people who eat the cattle, how could fruits and vegetables be grown on the same land without the same results?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bradley from Nebraska. We supposed to have learned in "School" what states were known for in exports and stuff like that. Thank you for being a "Farmer" to help feed us. I certainly appreciate eating food. I always look forward to a good meal that my wife whips up in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor is doing the right thing. Thank you for your concern of your friends, family, the people of Kauai and the tourists.

Yukimura and Kawakami are money hungry whores.

Mayor wants to veto Wailua Golf Course alcohol bill
Carvalho says bill that allows golfers to consume alcohol on Wailua Golf Course is flawed

Anonymous said...

Joan, sometimes the folks commenting on your blog remind me of my dog. He's led a very pampered life and is well-cared for and loved. He gets everything he needs and has nothing to be afraid of.

But he's starting to be paranoid about everything. Even the sound of his own footsteps on the stairs when he's going down to get his food, scares him.

He has a good excuse---he's old. I don't know what excuse some of your readers have.

Anonymous said...

9:18. It was a joke

Anonymous said...

9:47 The Mayor is wrong, the golf course has no vendor as of today. Without it, revenues will drop steadily. People already drink on the course. BYOB. If the Mayor really cared, he would enforce the no drinking policy right now. People can legally drink at all park facilities on Kauai except for organized activities like KIF sports. How is it safer? Again, just words, keep singing Mayor, that's all you good for.

Anonymous said...

Blood alley use to be the most dangerous stretch of highway in the state of Hawaii. The reduction in speed and also local law enforcement has worked in that area. The addition of a bar on that stretch would be like putting gas on flames. You people don't think about others but yourselves and your pleasures. The county should put all the drunks on the side of the highway and see how it feels when they have to face a drunk on the road.

Anonymous said...

Bernard is a typical Kauai politician Nice guy local familly High school sports star Kauai gets what Kauai votes for....until that mentality changes ....kauai will continue to decline

Anonymous said...

2:22 where's your facts about blood alley, how many of those deadly accidents were caused by drunk golfers leaving or arriving at Wailua Golf Course? Ummmm zero? You sound like Gary Hooser, making up lies to justify your position! How many were underage kids? Ummm. A lot. What does that have to do with golfers? Crickets....

Anonymous said...

What's the big deal with the beverage cart with alcohol being served at Wailua? Puakea, Kiahuna, Poipu Bay, Kauai Lagoons all have it. You guys acting like the County trying something new? Get real, it's all part of the attraction in getting the tourist's money! Stupid mayor and Ian Costa don't do shit for the golf course. Lose money! Can't wait for someone to get rid of Ian, hopeless fool!

Anonymous said...

12/22 @6:10 am, that's great, but you do acknowledge that you are a very rare exception, yes? Yes, it can be done, but you need to ask yourself, why are so many not doing it? Especially with farmland, available for lease, that is chronically unproductive?

Anonymous said...

Ignorant fool that hasn't read historical data on that stretch of highway. Why don't you just drink a case of beer and drive down kokee instead of jeopardizing people's lives in that area. Fucking druggies and alcoholics have not regard for anyone else but themselves.

Anonymous said...

They are absolutely right! Many years of non organic sugar production has poisoned the land, but there is a solution to the problem, GET OUT, Save YOURSELF, LEAVE ME TO MY DOOM. I will try to make do without their help.

Unknown said...

@3:21 BS Get a grip on reality, PLEASE. A & B already has cattle growing on irrigated grass and they are doing very well.... They are going to process those cattle locally and provide the domestically derived food. Will that make the red shirts happy? NO, they are not happy because those cattle aren't organically raised.

Anonymous said...

Finally a voice that people kind of trust sending the correct message out there for all of you alcoholics to read. Thank You very much

Mayor plans correct action on booze bill

Darryl D. Perry - Special to The Garden Island Posted: 9 hours ago

I applaud and support the mayor’s decision to veto Bill No. 2635 relating to selling alcohol at the Wailua Golf Course with roving concessions.

Anonymous said...

Now Bradley is yelling at people on his own side. That's why people from Nebraska should mind their own business. He doesn't understand anything going on. He's just railing against "the red shirts". Things are more complicated then the color of your shirt. I'm an organic farmer who is against pesticides and gmo. However, I've always had "locals" raising cattle 200 yards away. I'm not against cattle nor the dairy , and I don't even eat meat or drink milk. I don't think Bradley knows when we are talking about Kauai and when we are talking about Maui. He should just leave his "big corn" out of it and worry about his own community. Personally, it's none of my business what's happening in Nebraska nor Maui.

Unknown said...

@12:39 I have many old friends who are in, or have been in Hawaii. I've made many new friends who are pro-gmo and live in Maui, or Kauai. They have found me on FB, or they subscribe to my youtube channel.... They send me letters/PMs thanking me for my input, and my observations. They also try to enlist my friends to the cause as well. (It's funny watching those friends troll on BAB.) They have invited me to join several Hawaii AG/fishing groups on FB. I enjoy their input and I feel honored to contribute to the conversion when I feel I have something valuable to contribute.

That being said, BAB comes over to the States to campaign for the California and Oregon GMO bans. Also, the CFFS invited Vandana Shiva and ZEN Honeycutt (of MAM) to speak in Hawaii. Turnabout is fair play. IF they have a voice in the States, and in Hawaii, then the pro-gmo forces are allowed the same consideration as well. You don't have to listen to my voice. I post using my name so you can easily skip over my comments.

It's true, I rail against the red shirts. Their BS ordinance cost millions of dollars for Dupont, Dow and Monsanto to defeat in court. Those legal cost will be passed onto farmers in the form of higher seed cost. Farmers in the states are not happy about paying for those expenses when commodity prices are already low. I sent correspondence to SHAKA telling them 2491 didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of standing against FIFRA. IF they wanted to make real changes, they needed to pass the legislation through CONGRESS. SHAKA's arrogance, and close-mindedness, is why they are getting squeezed out of the conversation and SHAKA only has themselves to blame.

Anonymous said...

Bradley, you still don't realize @3:21 is on your side?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to people stepping up thechanges are already taking place Bradley. Your finances aren't more important than our islands health.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Bradley. The red shirts can never stand to look in the mirror.

Unknown said...

@ Dec 28, 6:24. While 3:21 and I maybe on the same side of many issues: I take issue with, "They are absolutely right! Many years of non organic sugar production has poisoned the land." I contend A & B are very good stewards of the land, that the soil isn't poisoned, and the property is highly productive for many uses. Farmers take offense, as a whole, to claims that we are poisoning the environment and get pissed off at the accusation (much like dec 28, 6:27) claims. I realize they are entitled to their opinion; however, those opinions are fueled by Ashly's, and Gary's propaganda (as has been well documented in several of Joan's blogs).

If I offended @3:21 with my comments, then I formally apologize. That wasn't my intension. My intension was to highlight the fact that the employees at A & B have done a tremendous job of being Good stewards of the land. Further, they left the ground in excellent condition to start a cattle livestock enterprise. So many of my friends that farm in Hawaii feel beat down by the false and unfounded accusations leveled against them. I support their endeavors and I will happily defend their cause.

Looking forward towards the future, Nebraska farmers have started giving farm tours. We explain how pesticides are safely used and how they breakdown in the environment. We showcase our conservation efforts (both in soil and water). We demonstrate how GMOs save energy and are better for the environment. We take 4th grade students to the field and let them dig up a hand full of health soil that's full of earthworms and brimming with life. WE demonstrate how cover crops (and conservation planting) nearly eliminates soil and nutrient erosion. Those techniques allow for better water infiltration, which reduces irrigation cost and saves fossil fuels. Preventing nutrient loss saves fertilizer and prevents contamination to rivers and streams. The Hawaii seed farms are doing the same and I would hope @ 6:27 would budget some time for a tour (in an effort to provide balance to Gary's claims).

The American farm does a tremendous job and we are gaining ground on those farmers who have room for improvement. We (farmers) are all in this together. I don't really own my ground because it's on loan from future generations. Therefore, I will to the best of my abilities, leave that ground in better condition than when I started farming.

Finally, Nebraska farmers thank the seed breeders in Hawaii. Their work makes our jobs easier, safer and more productive. We are seeing exponential growth in trend line crop yields due to their diligent work. Thank you for all you do, and the sacrifices you make.