My friend Chuck Lasker has always said that the entire anti-GMO/organic movement is narcissistic in nature. I agreed but never really looked up what narcissism really meant in terms of a psychology concept. Now that I’m dealing with my own personal issue living with a narcissist, I now have a clearer understanding of what Chuck meant.

Narcissists have no empathy for others and that is evident in the anti-GMO and even the anti-TMT movement. When asked what alternative do they give if they get a ban, they have nothing to offer. I’ve asked countless activists what do they give papaya farmers if they take away this technology. They usually give the cop out of saying the farmers must go organic. We all know that organic was tried with no getting over the ring spot virus.

When I’ve asked activists what monies and opportunities will they give when the Thirty Meter Telescope is blocked, they just scream sacredness! They can’t even see the needs in the community and why Hawaii needs a diversified economy. These people prefer to revel in their selfies and hashtags of #wearemaunakea but have nothing to return to improve people’s lives.

I’ve even seen well-fed activists here demanding that Golden Rice be banned while they state that giving carrots are a better solution. These folks have never experienced under nutrition or malnutrition but give the developing countries a “solution” without any consideration of why that simple one doesn’t work there. The irony is that activists claim to be for social justice but deny those who need a technology.

The new trend of clean eating is yet another example of narcissism pervading society. People proudly profess how they eat with beautiful images of food. It’s like boasting that there is clean or good food and everything else is bad. If you’re eating the “bad” food, you’re made to feel lesser of a person.

The selfish boasting of “I only eat organic” is yet another elitist attitude about food. One of the afterschool program leaders told me that she tries to buy organic because she heard it’s better and felt bad when she couldn’t afford to. I explained to her that she should not feel bad about the groceries she buys because we have such an abundant and safe food supply. There’s no shame in buying regular food that one can afford. I encouraged her to save money and buy what she can afford. Feeling guilty is succumbing to unscrupulous marketing strategies.

Narcissists really have no regard for their impact upon others. That’s especially true when the activists proudly tout crop destruction of job losses of their neighbors. These activists will lie straight to anyone who listens and make multiple false accusations with no regards to facts. Even when called out, these self-centered folks can’t even recognize how bad they look saying horrible things. The fact that they encourage more bad behavior and don’t condemn it is evidence of how cruel and uncaring this movement really is.

Hollywood stars and celebrities jumping into the issue and posing as “experts” is even more reflective of the narcissism pervading the anti movement. I find it ironic that these activists accuse me of seeking fame and fortune for speaking out for biotechnology, when the reality is that these few years have cost me lots of money and I’m not making anything for fighting for our farm. Meanwhile, the Food Babe is busy selling new products, the Center for Food Safety’s Ashley Lukens is asking for donations along with the HAPA’s Gary Hooser for their non-profits. I’ve not seen a single penny go towards helping people who have been harmed as they claim. Nothing goes back to the community that they claim to be saving.

A narcissist can’t understand that their actions and words have impacts upon others. They think they are free of consequences of their words. People like this do not care about that farmer’s success and whether or not he or she can provide for a family. They don’t care about the community when they talk about it but really have no proof of actually improving it. They don’t put their hands to work to grow a crop that provides food for the community. Once again, there is talk but nothing of substance offered.

The self-centered, reactionary nature of being anti is very selfish. It’s all about them, their selfies, me, me, me. “Let me say anything I please because I don’t care how it makes anyone else feel.” It doesn’t matter if it invites others to threaten people too. Here we tell kids not to bully others, and the activists do they very thing to those trying to educate. They’ve become the “look at me” kids on the playground.

So to the politicians surrounding yourself with the antis, Sen. Josh Green, Sen. Russell Ruderman, Rep. Kaniela Ing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and former Rep. Jessica Wooley, you represent the lowest of the low in people. They thrive on celebrating ignorance and dividing communities. History has shown what these politicians do when the come to power.

They take advantage of fear and use it to rile up the public and shut down critical thinking. People become irrational and act without considering the consequence of their actions. Not only is one’s ignorance taken advantage of, but using the least emotionally intelligent is yet another tactic of the anti activists.

This was an unsolicited message from an anti-activist the other day. He read my community voice on Civil Beat and immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was about Monsanto. I countered him rationally and as cowards usually act, he tries to intimidate via a private message. It’s downright pathetic that there are adults who are acting like playground bullies.

Self-centered, power hungry politicians take note because intolerance is not popular and never was acceptable. When you lead with your egotistical aspirations, your followers reflect it. It’s time for rational, fact based discussions instead of manipulation of emotions. Our communities deserve some healing and some semblance of sanity.

Just Be Quiet

When the anti-GMO activists started up on the social media back in 2013, something in me drove me into action. I started off very cautiously with where I’d put my comments. The first place I ventured into was the online news site, Civil Beat.

I was pretty naive as to what my comments would do in there. Little did I realize that it led to dogpiling by the anti-GMO activists. Before long, people started to know me on there and I became labeled as a shill or a troll. The nightly ritual of combatting the misinformation there soon landed me a phone call from my dad.

My sister had told him I was commenting online and it would jeopardize our farm and family name. He called me up with my mom beside him and told me to stop what I was doing. In his voice, I didn’t hear a lot of confidence in what he was saying since he didn’t know much about the social media. As an obedient daughter, I listened and said okay.

I knew that something big would unfold from this movement and affect our farm. I changed my online name to avoid being seen as a Kamiya, as a request of my dad. My profile name became Joni Rose for the next several years. I couldn’t stop from wanting the truth to be heard.

I think about those times now and wonder what would’ve happened if I had quit speaking up. Would things have been better without our say in the social media war zone? From the environment it’s at now, my gut instinct says speaking up has changed the tone and helped to empower others to speak out.

Too many times, we are told to be quiet and say nothing because it will pass. To me, that’s like sticking one’s head in the sand and being willfully ignorant of the realities. Just let it pass and talk amongst yourselves to solve the problem! I’ve found it simply isn’t effective.

Years ago, women had to just take the cat calls and harassment from men because that’s just what men do. By not saying anything, it was helping to keep a man of stature from being embarrassed. If a woman did speak out, she was torn to shreds for “deserving it.”

It is the same when it came to domestic violence, where women were pretty much told to be quiet or you’ll embarrass the man. I was once a victim of domestic violence and felt ashamed to have to talk about it because it was acceptable for a man to lose his temper. I was dismissed for calling it out and it must’ve been my fault. I felt powerless against getting away from this until a friend told me that I should just leave, which is what I did.

Too many times, we are told to just be quiet about things. Don’t say anything bad about your husband because you shouldn’t embarrass him is yet another thing I’ve been told. If he loses his temper just keep it to yourself. If he doesn’t help you just talk to him and he will change. After 10 years, I’ve realized that talking doesn’t convert to action. So my next plan was speaking up openly about it. I could no longer hide from the realities.

Initially, this plan caused a lot of friction because once again, I was embarrassing him. My own family members said don’t say anything. Even friends said don’t say anything, just work it out behind closed doors. I am at a breaking point where closed door talks became a blamefest at me. I could no longer take it at all.

Apparently to many, this was just shocking to hear. We all like the image of a happy family and happy couple. When you hear otherwise, it really changes that idea and almost causes cognitive dissonance. No, I do not have a perfect life and marriage and I can no longer live in an altered reality. The truth is sometimes unpleasant.

What became clear to me was that I wasn’t alone. So many friends started to speak up via messages about their own marriages and frustrations. I saw a different reality behind those smiling photos of a life just like mine. I wasn’t alone.

The more I spoke our openly on my observations and frustrations, others commented on how they too saw the same issues. What my husband thought was okay became a reality that what he chose to do wasn’t okay. This eventually has led to a major behavior shift that losing one’s temper wasn’t acceptable. The temper tantrums have decreased and we are getting along much better as a result. It’s not perfect but I’m demanding for change and won’t stop until it happens. The only way for someone to change is to recognize the issue. It is a painful process but that is life.

Sometimes people don’t want to hear what you have to say but if you speak with truth, truth will prevail. Many will discourage you to speak the truth to hide the ugly reality but it will come out. Change can only happen when it’s recognized and someone has to take the big step of speaking up.

If you have something to say, say it. If you’re dealing with mental illness, talk about it. Times are changing where more people need to stand up for themselves in truth.

We are humans and our lives aren’t perfect. Once you speak up, you may find a wonderful community of support willing to help you find peace.

I Shill for No One!

As a kid, I was taught the lesson to treat everyone fairly. It was bad to tease others by calling them names and using derogatory terms. Apparently, when you grow up to be an adult, that rule disappears.

Esteemed professors and even “leaders” are unaware of the insults they throw out that are very elitist and dehumanizing.

As I’ve stated over and over, I have never worked for any ag corporations or any biotech company at all, but when faced with facts, these people seem to resort to ad hominem attacks. To them, I must be lesser or a human and easily dismissed.

This is what bothers me the most about the organic industry’s tactics to use fear but when called out on it, they pull out the shill or troll card. They take full advantage of ignorance to make people feel bad for buying that GMO food as if it’s a lesser kind. It’s mean to manipulate a person’s emotion to get a sale on something that really isn’t better for the environment or healthier.

The insulting attitudes of the organic supporters is telling of the reality of this marketing scheme. It really is about the well-fed, wealthy white person dictating to the public what they should and shouldn’t eat. Just look at the Stonyfield commercial using young white girls touting unfounded claims.

I’ve been saying this for years that it’s becoming clearer that the organic industry must be finding it increasingly more difficult to sell products based on its own merits. If they keep resorting to fear to get people pay more, there’s a reason for it.

When I stopped at the market today, that became all too evident. There were 2 kinds of Romaine lettuce being sold. One could pay $2.89 for a huge head of conventional kind or 3 small heads that was a third of the size of the single head of organic lettuce for $3.69. This example shows clearly how it will take more land to grow those organic heads just by a side to side comparison.

Most consumers will shop price first which is likely why the organic variety wasn’t moving as fast and was browning at the stems and outer leaves.

Those who continue to politicize the ag issue have very shaky stances not based in evidence. Like Sen. Josh Green, Rep. Kaniela Ing, and even Dr. Marion Nestle resorting to the shill accusations, that is all they have left to cover themselves with. Though it’s far from the truth, they want their followers to not think about what’s being said and close minds to thinking. It’s the same reason why the organic activists rely on fear. It’s effective at stopping critical thinking.

Some people shop on impulse and don’t think about it. Others look carefully at the product and compare quality and prices. That requires thinking skills, which one should never turn off when going online.

The Hawaii State Legislature is once again politicizing the GMO issue and conflating it with pesticides. I’d honestly wish they’d get a clue that 5 years of battling and pandering to elites isn’t helping anyone when they don’t operate on facts. If they’d spend more time on growing more farmers and paying attention to those on the land, we might actually get closer to a real goal of achieving self-sufficiency. Isn’t that the common ground needed already?

The Image of Imperfection

The other night, my husband decided to pull out old photo albums of us from years ago. Here we were, in photos two beaming happy people. He was trying to reminisce about the good old days. Back then we had no kids, no real stresses. Happiness was captured in those photos.

Fast forward 15 years and life has changed quite a bit. The people in my life have changed tremendously as I look back. I have 3 little lives that I’m caring for, my faithful dog is gone, my grandparents are all gone, and I have 2 cats. My photo album has dramatically changed in so many ways that I can’t even count it.

The pictures taken capture small glimpses of life. No one takes photos of bad moments or sadness and anger. The photos we share are all happy and joyous for the most part. Looking at that made me realize how these images only portray certain stories and life, in reality, is far from that.

Yes, I do share my happy moments in photos. It’s only tells a partial story of life and nothing about the realities. If one were to look at those photos, one may think that I have such a wonderfully perfect life. When we look at photos of friends and their families, we see those glimpses of happiness. When things go awry, inside we feel as if there is something abnormal about us and are ashamed to even share these thoughts or stories of the realities.

Many say honesty is the best policy. Speaking up about the truth is supposedly a good thing. However, when one speaks about the truth on personal issues, honesty isn’t a good thing all of a sudden. Decades ago, women were discouraged from speaking out against the sexual harassment they faced from powerful men. We were told that it is embarrassing for the man and that were were somehow responsible for attracting it. Those who were harassed had to be quiet about it because god forbid a man be embarrassed.

Fast forward to the present time, and now women are open speaking out about the treatment they faced. As more and more women spoke out, one by one, they no longer felt the need to protect the harasser. Many men have been taken down from their statuses and images tarnished. The pictures of what looked like a good guy was forever gone and big careers lost.

I’m reminded in all of this that the image is just that: a brief moment in time of a event. It is not life. Life has many trials and challenges that’s not filled with smiles and happiness. My life is far from perfect but I hope to live an honest and good one. I can be told to not say anything about the imperfections behind that image to “save face,” but is that really doing me any good?

No one likes to hear the honest truth many times. I’ve said some honest things about my life and some have told me to stop saying stuff because it embarrasses people. The interesting thing is that I received so many messages of support behind the scenes that have told me they too have been in the same boat. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt. The images of what they lived with so didn’t match with the photos I saw of them. We start to feel cognitive dissonance with the image and belief of what we thought of this person before.

An image is such a power thing that can make us believe something that isn’t fully true. Sometimes we have to look beyond that image and realize it’s not the full story. The images have many imperfections behind it and it’s something we can try to hide or be honest with. It’s the stories behind the pictures that tell the whole truth. Pretending to hide a different truth is unsustainable and it has a cost. Speaking truth and being honest in life is much better to encourage positive change because it’s hard to pretend something is hunky dory when that isn’t the reality. Life isn’t a facade or a TV show and make believe isn’t lasting. Hiding from truth is not going to make life any easier. Coming to terms with the truth is what will be sustainable but isn’t always comfortable.

Fearful of Work

Everyday here has been very dreary and rainy so when it appeared to be sunny, I decided to wash my car. If I’m not short on time, I’ll wash it at home and really take the time to detail it too. Now that my kids are old enough, they all help out, including the toddler.

The start of washing the car is always fun and playful. Lots of energy and laughs are heard as we work. The car will look clean but upon closer inspection, there are lots of dirty spots left and one has to go closer and really clean it well. That’s when the kids start to lose stamina. By that time, the 7 and 3 year old are gone and my 12 year old is there.

The longer we toil, the sun starts to beat down upon us and the drying of the car gets much harder. After it’s carefully dried off, it’s time to wax it. Most of my energy is gone but I am determined to finish the task. My 12 year old starts to whine about the heat and asking when will we be done.

As I listened to her complain, I realized that the young generation is afraid and intolerant of manual labor. We have an entire generation of children who don’t have a sense of what it takes to upkeep a car. My dad made me wash and clean my own car as a teen in hopes that I take care of it, which did work for me. Now, it’s just way easier to plop money down and have another person do it. We’ve lost out on a very simple lesson.

When we aren’t taught the skills and given a push to complete something, we lose sight of how good we have it. We have a hard time valuing the many blessings we have because we don’t see what it took to get to us.

A clean car, an abundance of food, and modernity are so easily taken for granted by those not involved with the tasks to produce it.

This Christmas season will be to stop and appreciate what we have and teach my children to do the same. By teaching them how to care for the belongings they have, I hope that they won’t be afraid to work hard for what they have in the future. They’ve got to pay attention to detail and be a quality producer in whatever they do. There’s no shortcuts to life and if you invest the time and effort into what you do, you’ll likely be happier with the result.

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.