The Curse of Abundance

We live in a world of plenty which is both good and bad.  

When my kids have too many toys, they don’t take care of them.

When we have too much clothes, we stand in front of closets and pronounce there’s nothing to wear.

When we have adequate shelter, we complain about how old the house is and how we need more space.

When we have lots of time to watch TV, we complain that there’s no time to do anything.

When our refrigerators are full of food, we stand in front complaining about having nothing to eat. 

When we stand in a buffet line with lots of food, we complain that the food is bad before it’s been tasted. 

When we go to a market searching for only a organic, non-GMO food and complain about how farmers farm otherwise.

It’s nice to have abundance and those who provide it, but we need to stop and think about our wants versus needs to have a bit or gratitude for what’s in front of our faces sometimes. 

November is a great month to give gratitude for what we have and need. A little gratitude can go a long way.

The Faucet


I live in the 50 year old home of my grandparents. When you live in a home that old, things are bound to fall apart. As a result of this phenomenon, I’ve had to learn a lot skills with fixing things or hire someone to fix it for me. Being from an Okinawan and Chinese background, we don’t like to pay money if we don’t have to.

I’ve learned so many skills just out of necessity.  One night while washing dishes, my toddler son decided throw an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet. Pretty soon I heard him screaming, “Look mom! Water!”

I rushed into the bathroom to find the toilet overflowing and a watery mix of toilet paper sloshing out. I knew already that the plunger wasn’t going to cut it.  After sopping up what I could and shutting the water, I got my toilet auger and started working on it.  I had learned from my grandpa how to use it and sure enough, the plug went plunk, and the water gushed out.

Just recently, one of my outdoor faucets broke and at first I thought to do it myself.  I carefully surveyed the problem. It didn’t look too hard but I could easily screw it up if I wasn’t careful. My gut told me to talk to my dad about it.

I described the problem to him and he said I could try to fix it but be careful and use the right tools or I’ll be paying a plumber lots of money to fix a mistake.  He decided to come down to my home to take a look.  

Sure enough, it wasn’t an easy fix as it appeared to be.  It took a lot of careful muscle power and skill to get them off after being there for over 50 years.  I learned how to fix it properly from the expert, my dad.  Even though things appear to be simple, it rarely ever is.  

This lesson brings me back to the restoring expertise in our society. If I had made assumptions that this repair was easy, I probably would’ve caused major damage to the copper pipes.  A keen eye with experience help prevent headaches later on.  

What if Hawaii politicians kept listening to the anti-GMO crowd demanding to farm only one way? Would we be able to sustain ourselves? For papaya farmers, the answer is no.  We need all the tools available and the input of the experts who have been there.  Their education and experience is a building block for building the right path for the future.  

If we truly want to preserve agriculture here in Hawaii, we need to look at who is talking at the table and has the expertise to be there.  If we put the political PhD folks like Ashley Lukens and other non-farmers, will we be set in the right path? Seeing how the anti-pesticide campaigns have contributed to a resurgence of rat lungworm disease here, it’s clear that there is a cost to misinformation. The supposed food safety group is still silent on rat lungworm disease.  

Farmers deserve to be heard and have access to technology that can make their jobs better.  Listening to politicians who have no experience in agriculture or rely on campaigns based in false information can do irreparable harm for years to come. Luckily, we still have many experienced resources available like my dad still invested in growing Hawaii. 

It’s time to support farmers now and get onboard with those working the lands.   Farming families like ours need to be heard over the loud activists who have no idea what it means to farm. You can’t have an expert opinion from Google and nor should politicians even rely on this crowd either.

Want farms? Support them and their work if you want sustainability.  

The Beauty of a Farm

I had a unique opportunity to visit Molokai to network with other farm ladies a few weeks ago. Thankfully, I was able to flex my work to take the time to attend these events.  I’ve never been there so it was a whole new experience. 

My flight over was very interesting to start as I was only one of 3 people traveling there.  Being a small world, it was of no surprise that I knew one of my fellow passengers.  We all walked on the runway to go up 3 steps into a 9 passenger plane.  It was nice to be in this cozy plane.

As we flew along the Honolulu coastline, I was struck by how many homes, buildings, and cars filled the beachfront to the valleys.  The only open areas were the actual mountains. I realized that once the farmlands are paved over, they are gone forever. A way of living will be lost.

As the plane made its way over the ocean, the striking cliffs of Molokai being pounded by crystal blue waves stood out. There were no lots completely covered over with development. There was only a few structures and lots of farms dotting the wide open landscape.  It was actually peaceful to have a change of city life to return back to the country.  

The stark contrast of Honolulu to rural Molokai struck me. In this day and age, outside manipulators have targeted farmers with a false narrative that has created fear of farms.  These people claim to love the aina but completely fail to recognize the consequences of what they are asking for. History shows us that farms will turn into development and the landscape is changed.


Some people still want to believe that I am “speaking for industry,” but have no clue as to what keeps me speaking up for what farmers big and small do in Hawaii. I don’t care what way you choose to farm but the public needs to clearly understand what we will all lose if there is no real political will to support agriculture. We will lose a chance for the future generations to continue the lessons learned from those who came before us.

Like the Hawaiians who went some 600 years not knowing their star navigation history, we will no longer have the chance to teach our children what it means to learn how they got to where they are. The clearer we can learn from the past and remember our roots, the better our path will be for the future. My ancestors paved a long and arduous path over a century ago when they left their homes. It was their brave decision that changed our family’s lives forever. 

For the sake of our keiki, we must appreciate the past and build upon what we learned.  My kids deserve that chance to be farm kids and know their history. The pandering mode to loud, disinformed people will rob us of our history and steal a way of living.  The time is now to support Hawaii’s agricultural roots. 

I’ll fight for what is right and continue to have our story heard. It’s been nearly 4 years since I started and unlike the anti-GMO crowd who move from one thing to another, I’m going to stand strong for agriculture in Hawaii.  You can bet on that. 

The Lesson of a School Garden


School just started last week and everyday I pick my 7 year old up, I pass a small blue container with several tomato seedlings in it.  Last week, these seedlings looked pretty vigorous but this week, they looked kind of sad.  

I bet that these were going to be planted on the small garden boxes set up around the school as part of their garden. There’s been a push lately for school to farm education in hopes grooming more farmers.  The look of those tomato seedlings tell me a different story. 

There’s a huge difference between a garden and a farm.  It’s great that kids can get their hands in the dirt and see firsthand plants growing everyday.  To be able to pick something you grew is an amazing feeling and great for kids to experience.  Many people equate this to farming and that’s operating under a false assumption.

Growing a handful of tomatoes and other veggies isn’t a farm.  A farm has to be financially sustainable and have the right person willing to work long hours in the hot sun to produce something that will provide a way of living.  There are some “farmers” and “farms” that have the backing of billionaires or famous entertainers who don’t face the harsh realities of production because they aren’t reliant on this income.  For the homegrown, local farmer, that simply isn’t the case.

A local school kid isn’t going to be running any farm soon without an actual reality check of what farming is until they immerse themselves in it.  If a garden fails, it’s no huge loss because there’s a market down the street.  There won’t be a huge impact on anyone when all the disposable income put in the garden turns to nothing. It’s no big deal.  Crop failure to a farmer is a big deal. It’s the real deal with a farm.

What will help to encourage more to go into farming? Pique curiosity about the science in agriculture and teach the business aspects of what is involved. Stop allowing disinformation campaigns against farmers to dominate the media.  Encourage critical thinking and dispel fears around the tools used in agriculture.  Most of all, support those who are already farming because they have a higher likelihood of staying in if the environment is conducive to this occupation.

So what does a garden really hold for school kids? It’s a reminder that it teaches kids how to garden, not farm. A lesson that teaches gratitude to real farmers must be included also.  Most of us could never eat or be clothed without a successful farmer backing us up.  We are all lucky to have a farmer everyday of our lives. 

Feeding People is a Passion

To be able to feed people is a privilege that my family is proud to be able to do. Like so many other family farms, we are intent on preserving the legacy of those who came before us.  As we have learned, innovation and technology is a tool to help us achieve sustainability.

When you’re not on the farm or have no ties to the land, it’s easy to form opinions on the subject with the mass amount of information about the work my family does.  It’s easy to think that you know a better way when you’ve “done your research.” It’s a different story when you’re on the farm, working the land.

Instead of going down to the beach to lounge on the shore, I went down to the farm to help get the papayas out to our customers.  I had my husband and kids join me too.  I still got to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and warm breezes.  I also got to drive down to the other fields to see the new shed.  My dad wanted to fix the irrigation system and show me the progress of the fields.

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The new processing shed and office is coming up nicely.

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The newest field planted.

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The matured fields are getting tall.

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The neighbor’s horse paid us a visit today. 

Despite it being a work day, I had a nice 4th of July on the farm. I felt grounded about myself and reminded about the role my family plays in our community.  We are the farmers and we feed our neighbors, friends, and family.  It’s a passion that keeps us motivated to do the hard work that few want to take on in this day and age.

Passion to feed people is what motivates us.  This is our story and keeps us going everyday.  If you enjoyed a day off, don’t forget those who worked to feed you.

A Passion for Papaya is Not Propaganda

A Passion for Papaya is Not Propaganda

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Dr. Marion Nestle referred to the film Food Evolution as “propaganda” and the other activists like Zen Honeycutt and the Food Babe are jumping onboard.  This implies that the content was misleading, and meant to affect opinions using less-than-honest means. I was really shocked when 45 academic signatories wrote the letter calling the film propaganda from the agrochemical industry.

I’m glad to offer you a taste of that propaganda, or should I say, papaya.

The film’s first part shows a horrible battle that happened here in my home state of Hawaii.  Non-farmers and well-financed mainland activists wanted my family to abandon a technology, the virus-resistant papaya.  The papaya was made resistant by genetic engineering, and it was done by universities and government to help the local papaya farmers. It was not the “agrochemical industry”.

Mainland activists riled up local agitators by carefully crafting a massive fear campaign in our communities and manipulated a vote against the papaya. Claims were made that it was poison, it caused tumors, it was increasing pesticide use and more diseases in the industry.  None of this was true, but in fear of retaliation, the majority of the council voted to ban it anyway.

The Food Evolution film crew was in Hawaii because it was the important national story at the time. They covered the story in great detail and presented it as it unfolded, giving plenty of time to the papaya’s opposition.

It also shows how farmers pushed back, and Margaret Wille and the County Council then grandfathered the papaya in, even though they believed (the propaganda) that it was carcinogenic and harmful.

They were caught in a hypocrisy when one tells the public improved fruits are dangerous but then exempt them with pressure.  This is fact.  This is hardly propaganda. The papaya works, it saved an industry, and is outstanding technology.

So it is very disappointing to me that Nestle, Pollan and 45 others go on record calling this story agrochemical industry propaganda, when it is a far cry from the truth.

It is especially disturbing because many of the people that refer to my family’s livelihood as propaganda are graduate students and professors. It seems like a bad career move to call the chronicling political resistance to successful technology agrochemical industry propaganda.

It is even more troubling that these are students and professors that claim to be in favor of small-holder family farms and sustainability.  The papaya allows my family to sustainably produce a local staple that would be gone if it was not for the technology.

If I was a student or faculty member I would think carefully before signing my name to a movement laden with false claims. It seems like the academic road is very difficult today, and when a search of your name shows you standing up against technology and small family farmers, it seems like a short-sighted career move. Your name on that letter symbolizes the rejection of science and the benefits it can have for small family farms globally, who face climate change and it’s consequences.  Do you really stand against that reality?

If you ever are over in the islands please let me know and I’ll personally introduce you to our “giant agrochemical industry”, which is me, my family and two dedicated farm workers, growing a delicious and valued fruit. The movie Food Evolution told our story, our fight, and our ongoing success very accurately.  I would think very carefully before calling my family’s reality throwaway propaganda.

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Joni Kamiya–The Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter

Dehumanizing of Mankind

Dehumanizing of Mankind

I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to see more and more of the shill and troll accusations flying around by several of the anti-GMO supporters regarding Food Evolution.  It’s maddening to me that a professor of nutrition is even using those terms and trying to back out of the film.  So what’s wrong with this crier of shill and troll bit?

Plenty.

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These are shills.  Does it look human to you?

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This is a troll.  Does it look human to you?

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This is my family.  We indeed look human.

Can you see the difference between the trolls and shills and my family?  The two images above are clearly not human and when people start resorting to name calling, it dehumanizes people.  When you’re dehumanized to a troll or a shill, it’s easy to forget about the beating heart, the feelings, and thoughts of that person speaking out to you and challenging your beliefs.

When a person is no longer seen as human, it is easy to treat them badly.  You can kick a troll and beat it into the ground, and you can throw that shill coin away.  It’s just an object with no feelings and no life.  When those objects are gone, it’s easy to forget about them.  It’s abhorrent to do that to a human, but in reality, that is what we are doing when society uses fear and avoids facts in the discussions at hand. Once a person is seen as an object, it’s easy to do inhumane things to them.  That’s the problem with calling people names like trolls and shills.

I’m deeply troubled by highly esteemed professors and celebrities going around calling others names.  If they are leaders, does a leader seek to take away the human element of our world?  Sure Food Evolution is a movie but it tells a powerful story of humans and what we’ve gone through.  There are real stories in the movie and calling one’s story propaganda is hurtful.  From the small papaya farmer in Hawaii to the African mother who is seeking to feed her children, we are no different from each other as humans.  We bleed the same blood and we feel the pain of suffering.  We want what is best for our families.  I know there are others deserving the same comforts that I have which makes for a good quality of life.  What’s wrong with stepping back and looking at the facts presented in Food Evolution that GM technology may be helpful?  Are you not willing to learn the plight of others?

Brave people are willing to change their beliefs and lead us in the right way.  Yes, you esteemed professors, you have a duty to your students and to the public to teach compassion and remind students that there’s a world far away from us that is affected by our actions.  You can change your mind and know that others will thank you for it.  You’ll face a lot of hate from such a challenge but be brave for the others that you will indeed help.

Please stop the troll and shill cries once and for all and start opening your heart to listen to the needs of your fellow human.  May this story of biotechnology help others as it has helped my family.  We are all human and need to help create that compassionate world for our children.

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Just one of my little “trolls” that I love with all of my heart.  She’s not propaganda and nor is she an object.