“Make Loud Noise”

 

Last night as I was going through my newsfeed, several friends posted a video of the attacks still happening in Alleppo.  On the video was a very young child who was covered in dirt and blood who was a victim of the attack.  It also showed other young children who were maimed by the attacks there.  I cried after watching it and am still so sad by it.  It hit even closer to home since that baby looked so much like my son.

I can’t help but think about what kind of world we are creating if people are so willing to bomb communities and harm innocent children.  What are we doing wrong in the world that is making this happen?  That baby could’ve been one of our kids and there wouldn’t be much that we’d have control over to stop it.  It’s utterly heartbreaking.

Is this the world that my children will have to face when they grow up?  Do we want a world where you can’t even go to the mall or school without fear of some crazed person coming in and wanting to shoot or stab you?  I sure as heck don’t want to them to face that.

I’m starting to think that we as a free society is creating a very angry one.  Though a petition to ask a burger company to provide an option that they’ve never had and throwing them under the bus while doing it sounds inane, there’s something that bothers me about it.  It’s not about the petition or wanting a vegetarian option but the prevailing attitude that you can change things by making a loud noise.  Like the GMO issue where millions marched against Monsanto in anger got so much attention, a loud noise isn’t always the best way to do things.  Even with the protests against the pipeline making a media stir, I have to ask if being angry and making noise is really changing the bigger picture?

I’m starting to see that loud noises are only temporary and no truly having an impact overall.  It’s fueling an attitude that if you’re loud and mad about something, that’s the best way to see quick change.  It’s not necessarily good change if it wasn’t thoroughly thought out.  The loud noise against GMOs in Europe and the US have stymied efforts to adopt this technology in places that’s needed the most.  The idea that having enough people not always standing on fact but desires is enough to change policy is an dangerous stance to take.  The protests of Greenpeace worldwide has blocked the world’s ability adopt Golden Rice for nearly a decade.  The environmentalists have claimed victory in saving the earth from it, but malnourished and disabled children have suffered from the loudest demands.  They’ve made change but it hasn’t been for the betterment of society as a whole.

What has happened to the concept of making change by taking your own path and creating that better way that you think is superior?  Instead of resorting to attacking established businesses, why not be innovative and create your own company to to fulfill that perceived consumer demand?  Why use others successes to fundraise for your cause and go on your own merits to make that change you want to see?  Are you willing to take on that work to do that or do you choose the self-serving, easy path to create your “success?”

The prevailing attitude lately is make plenty noise to change things.  Once the noise is done, the work is over so one thinks.  The world doesn’t work that way and problems aren’t solved with a bandaid of noise.  Everyone has to take a commitment to be a part of the process to work together to figure out how to take the next step and what your contribution will be to address it.  Not only do we have to embody this attitude, but we need to teach this to the next generation so that they can be contributors to society instead of noisy complainers who aren’t sincere about making a world a better place.

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People have to be in the fields, getting their hands, dirty, and committed to solving a problem.  Just making noise  over consumer demands have never had a truly lasting impact on society.  

 

Dishonesty is Unsustainable

The more I pay attention to what the anti-GMO activists do and say, I’ve come to realize that after 3 years of their charades, some people are getting a clue of the sham that they are pulling.  When the lady who accused my dad of poisoning her has the guts to come and apologize to him and even give him a hug, it tells me that there is hope.  She could have easily forgotten it and walked by the fields but she didn’t.  She came and did the right thing.

As I was listening to Ashley Lukens, the director of the Center for Food Safety, talk on Thursday, I heard some very interesting claims being made.

“I also wanted to thank my friend, and fellow academic, Robert Perkinson and the American studies department, for creating this space here at UH for us to bring.  I just want to thank Robert.  Robert has helped to bring a lot of great thinkers to Hawaii in the 10 years I’ve lived here.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet with activists from around the world who work with a variety of issues and it’s because Robert has this incredible willingness to navigate the complex hierarchy of UH Manoa like nobody I have ever seen. It takes about 72 pieces paper all signed off with the perfect signature to reserve a room and do it every time so I really appreciate it.  Anyone who is a professor here at UH, this is the unpaid labor of being a professor and I really appreciate you.  And also the Chancellor’s Thought Leader Series helped us put this on and the UH Office of Sustainability.”

She makes the claim that the Chancellor’s office helped with this event, which caught me by surprise.  She also has it in her citation-free handouts that UH is a partner of the Center for Food Safety.

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Just like the name of their group, the Center for Food Safety, they use deception to get the public to believe their legitimacy.  The name alone makes make people think that they really are a food safety group and yet no one ever questions the fact that there’s nothing on the hepatitis A outbreak.  Nor do they ever post any food recalls either to inform the public.  By putting the University of Hawaii’s name on their “partners,” the unsuspecting person will think that if the university supports it, then they must be genuine.

Being the skeptical person I am, I decided to contact the Chancellor’s office directly and find out the truth.  Turns out, Ashley Lukens wasn’t totally truthful that night to the large audience in attendance.  Here’s the email I received back from Dr. Clifton Tanabe, the executive assistant to the Chancellor.

“I’m the executive assistant to the Manoa Chancellor.  David Lassner asked me to look into the Center for Food Safety event held on Sept. 14 at the UHM Architecture Auditorium.  I have learned that this event was not endorsed nor sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office.  Robert Perkinson (who, I understand, may have helped with arrangements for the auditorium) does organize a different speaker series for the Chancellor’s Office, but this event was not at all part of that series.”

Once again, Ashley must think that people don’t pay attention to what their group says.  Yes, your die hard GMO free activists believe and worship what you say but everyone else doesn’t fall for your shtick at all.  She’s an expert of political manipulation and it’s getting to be pretty easy to pull her “information” apart because it’s fact-less.

The emotional arguments made by the Center for Food Safety can go all over the place.  They have no bar in what they will claim or say, much like what the Food Babe does.  Therein lies the huge difference between the anti-GMO folks and the rational, logic based, science supporters.  We’re tied to facts that can’t go all over the place.  We are bound to what the evidence shows and Ashley and friends will do and say anything to get their way.

That reckless way of behaving and acting can only last so long before people get tired of it. Like the Babes Against Biotech’s Nomi Carmona giving up the 300 domain names she registered of people in the ag community, these kinds of actions can only last so long.  These folks will learn the lesson that you can only fool people for so long before they realize what has been done.  Meanwhile, the farmers are still producing crops and the GMO free activists are still yelling and giving the bird with no farm or actual product produced from it, other than their historical tantrums documented online.  The ugly mark they made in the world and the dishonest tactics they launched will be sustained in history forever.

The Anti-Intellectuals: Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety

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The anti-GMO folks say some pretty amazing things and have very incredible ideas as to what it is.  To those who have no clue on some basic science, logic, and critical thinking, it’s easy to get sucked up into this because there is a lot of repetition and emotion in all of the anti-GMO messaging.  Every once in awhile, some of them will piece the information together and say some really wild things.

I can tell that these folks really don’t critically analyze what their saying.  Most don’t have enough of a background to come up with a decent understanding of the science and will never go back to actually learn, which shows the anti-intellectual nature of this movement.  Nor do many people even remember what they have said before and easily get called out it.  The impulsive nature of what they say and do is reflection in the lack of self control and only leads to unforeseen consequences that further shows the true colors of the movement itself.

I happened to pick up a flyer from the Food Babe event put out by the Center for Food Safety the other night from their community education table.  Like their previous publications, there is never any sources for a person to go back to for referencing the source, nothing.  The unsuspecting person will get entranced by the beautiful imagery of taro fields, babies, and grass huts nestled in a valley.  The colorful nature of the booklet and high quality printing gives the illusion of something legitimate to the public.  The printed materials are written very much like a religious handout to get people to believe in the cause.

It looks so good that it would not be something deceptive but in reality, is completely a facade.  Looking at this would not make you want to question the info presented because it looks so important.  It easily fools so many people into believe that CFS is a “legitimate” food safety group despite nothing in the booklet referring to food borne illnesses and actual safety issues in our food supply.  There’s nothing mention of the food recalls at all or anything on the hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii.  You simply get the feeling that their there to save you from poisoning.

In one of the handouts, I read an interesting passage on the EPA and regulation of public health risks.  (Note: nothing mentioned about REAL health risks and the Food Safety and Modernization Act that does protect people.)

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The Center for Food Safety is telling people that the EPA can’t be trusted.  Their specialty is creating doubt in people who will never take the time to critically question what’s being presented.  The typical anti-GMO believer just repeats these phrases.  (Note: The “minuscule” contribution of the seed industry is not mention that it’s valued at over $150M to our state’s economy and leads in agricultural activity.  But hey, that’s not important to mention!)

In order to critically think about an issue, one must be able to synthesize all information being presented.  That includes remembering anything else that was said earlier by other people.  Not even a month ago, Earthjustice’s attorney, Paul Achitoff, announced that they were suing to get the EPA to regulate pesticides in Hawaii because the state was allegedly “failing.”

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Let’s see here.  Earthjustice and the Pesticide Action Network wants the EPA to regulate pesticides in Hawaii, meaning that they will trust the agency.  However, back in 2013, they headed to the Kauai County Council, under Councilmember Gary Hooser’s lead, to have the county regulate pesticides and GMOs because they didn’t trust the EPA or state.  They also tried to pass county ordinances on Maui and Hawaii alleging that the state and federal government were not regulating the issue adequately.  Now they are changing their tune and trusting the EPA again???

Do the GMO free folks think everyone is absentminded???  These folks say one thing and then take a different action that completely contradicts themselves.    Ashley Lukens of CFS has repeatedly said that she wants the state to pass a buffer zone law but then her pal, Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice doesn’t trust the state and wants this regulation held with the EPA.  If buffer zones become law, will Ashley suddenly trust the state’s handling of the matter?  Before that they wanted the county to regulate and confidently told taxpayers that it was this piece of legislation was legal, dismissing the county’s legal review that it wasn’t in it’s scope.  The courts have ruled that the environmental groups were wrong and in reality, deceived the public.

These groups are causing mass chaos and confusion in the public to.  They’ve been at it for the last 3 years.  Three years of constant fear mongering in our communities has consequences to even small farmers.  Some hardcore believers continue to follow them blindly and never bother to think about what’s being said.

The beautiful thing about this mucked up movement is that some people are waking up and swimming out of the ocean of fear.  Remember the incident a few months ago when my dad was verbally abused and threatened by the lady who lived uphill from our farm?

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That same woman showed up on our farm again this past Monday.  Everyone working that day had a sinking feeling when they saw her approach my dad on the field. My brother was ready to jump off the tractor to defend him if it was needed.  However, instead of yelling at my dad, she did something completely different.

She proceeded to apologize to my dad.  She told him that she had realized what she did was completely wrong and she was sorry and asked for his forgiveness. Taken by surprise, he did forgive her.  He was thankful that she came back to talk with him.  She then went up to him and hugged him and left.

In the midst of massive fear and confusion, there is beauty.  People can change if those in the agricultural communities keep speaking up and telling our stories and what we face.  Our stories of what we do will be heard above those who seek to destroy us.  We must never forget that the farmers are the pillars of our communities.  It’s their work that gives us the freedom to not be on the farm.

It is through learning that people can change.  Who is ready and willing to commit to learning about farms from farmers? We can’t continue to move forward if people are having to defend their work.  We have to start listening to the right people who are on the fields, working the lands and feeding us.  That’s the pono thing to do.

 

 

 

The Allure of Anti-Intellectualism

Tonight I decided to attend the “Ethics of Eating” sponsored by the Center for Food Safety and featuring Vani Hari, the Food Babe.  It was a free event held at the University of Hawaii thanks to a Dr. Robert Perkinson, an American Studies professor, who helped to get this event a venue at the Architecture School Auditorium.  I wanted to hear what this “food activist” had to say and see what kind of people attend these events.

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I got there with my friend, Sarah, at 5 pm to check out the True Food Market held out in the courtyard.  I decided to wear my March Against Myths I love GMO shirt to distinguish that I wasn’t a true believer.  I did get some odd looks but no one approached us which told me the anti-GMO emotional tones must be settling down a bit.

 

In order to get something to eat, you had to pay $5 to get a bunch of tickets for various vegan foods.  I didn’t think that there would be food, so I had gotten a plate lunch from L&L BBQ prior.  Not realizing that the event was vegan, I still sat there and ate that piece of unethical, Monsanto grain raised, industrial piece of chicken and some GMO macaroni salad.  It smelled delicious but I bet it raised some eyes in the crowd smelling it. I already started the evening showing how unethical I eat apparently.

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As more people started to gather in, it was fascinating to see so many people crowding into listen to a person who has no background in what she’s talking about.  There was an older woman with long scraggly hair and collagen pumped up lips, some Hawaiians, older adults, people of all walks of life there.  There were even young kids with their parents joining in too.  I estimated that at least 250 came to listen to her.

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Lots of GMO cotton was being worn in the courtyard this evening.  People were wearing t-shirts, jeans, sundresses, cargo shorts, and aloha shirts that were clearly made from biotech cotton.  Not only was there a lot of cotton, Ashley Lukens, the director of CFS, pictured in the black and white jumpsuit was baring her tattoos and her freshly chemically treated hair too.  She had a “Community Propaganda Education” table set up with all of her flyers touting that people were being poisoned by GMOs and pesticides.  I had a feeling that she’d use this event to “inform” people about GMO ground zero.

Eventually, we finally got to enter the auditorium and find a seat to actually hear the panelists and the Food Babe herself.  It started off with Ashley Lukens talking about how “f**king amazing” some people are and more curse words in front of all the young children sitting the the audience.  I was appalled of how classless it was to openly swear knowing that young kids were  in the audience.  I thought it was inconsiderate to those parents who were there.  But then again, this is how the anti-GMO folks forget to be considerate of others much of the time.

They were passing out cards to fill out any questions also.  It was quite funny how these question cards somehow was passed around us and that when the basket came back, it was empty.  I guess it was symbolic that in this cult-like atmosphere, questioning the authority is never tolerated.

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After Ashley gave her profanity laced introduction, Hanohano Naehu, from Molokai did a rap song about the evils of corporations and GMOs.  The malama the aina bit came out and no pesticides got mingled in the lyrics too.  The battle cry came out too that they had to protect people by fighting this perceived bad guy.  He even decried that science was bad.  I almost felt that I was in a church service where people start singing hymns to get the congregation going, especially when they’d get the crowd to throw in the “ea” chorus.  He had some choice words put in his song too that were not appropriate for young children.

Then the panel started off with their stories about what brought them there.  There was Kaui Sana, from Mao Organics, a Doorae Shin, from the Kokua Foundation, and the Food Babe herself.  I honesty think that the most reasonable person on the panel was Kaui who talked about the need to return to the land and learn how to grow food.  The stuff that Doorae was saying about veganism and her encouragement to watch movies to learn about food was typical preaching with no promotion of critical thinking.  The Food Babe was doing her typical story of unhealthy eating led her on this mission, and how biotech is after her personally, and even how a Southern Kauai baby has liver cancer from pesticides. (She even had to throw in the dramatic cries too when telling the story of the baby.  Problem is, there’s no GM farms in Southern Kauai, but the true believers don’t even think to ask.)  The funniest thing she said was that she was glad she didn’t go to law school and became a food activist, likely knowing that it’s much more profitable.

I had to leave early from the event to get back to my kids but left the event really sad in many ways.  How is it that a place of higher learning like the University of Hawaii can bring in a charlatan who takes advantage of people’s ignorance and fears under the guise of of “education?”  It was an American studies professor that helped get the facilities to have her “preach” her message too.  Meanwhile, the people at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources are doing work to develop better plants and methodologies as part of it’s mission as a land grant college.  The law school, Hawaiian studies program, and now an American studies’ professor is participating in touting the anti-GMO rhetoric that can impede research and innovation.  That is utterly disturbing to me at at time when Hawaii “intellectuals” were all talking about the need to do something about climate change.

The social justice warriors, backed with anti-corporate conspiracies and emotions, are all energized by how they feel and their need to feel like their saving the world with how they eat.  The repeatedly say that they don’t need science and that they aren’t against science, which is truly sad.  These folks are about how they feel and using simple ways, a heuristic, to make better decisions about what they eat and how they live.  Food Babe is the preacher to the masses as we are seeing when she states things like don’t eat things you can’t pronounce or go organic.  You’ll never see her talk about the physiology of eating, human metabolism, exercise, or other evidence based ways to become healthier or live better.  She will never talk to people about DNA, plant breeding, crop protection, or basic farming either to encourage learning.  People love her because she’s the simple way to better their lives without really having to think hard about it.  She encourages others to just believe her and don’t question because everyone is attacking her and not her information.  Any contrary information is all a conspiracy and media manipulation despite her being very much involved with those actually manipulating the media.  Wanting to learn about science is condemned by people like Ashley and Vani.

I get it that people want to be healthy and what the Food Babe touts is easy to follow and boosts self esteems.  Who doesn’t want to feel better about themselves?  She really creates true believers that don’t think or question information to make good decisions.  It’s just easier to go after things that they think are making them healthier with her Food Babe Army.  She encourages people to go after companies and “change” them without even disclosing that she makes money each time she does that through affiliate links and other ways.

I feel like I lost brain cells tonight after listening to much of what was being said.  I’ve also realized that this isn’t anti-science but more of anti-intellectualism.  No one needs science is what activists always yell.  From the TMT, to fishing, to GMOs, and any other issue, the science and facts are totally rejected.  When we reject those objecting measures of what we are seeing, we can never find a common ground to work together from.  There’s no critical thinking that will utilize a good rationale to help people think and problem solve together.  They just want quick and easy solutions and a mob of believers is the way to do it.

Without an intellectual conversation about our world, we can’t solve the real problems at hand.  Obscuring facts and impeding progress with conspiracies are only blocking innovation and genuine ways to address saving our planet.  Though the Food Babe may make people think she’s making the planet better, she is actually contributing to problems by blocking progress and profiting from her efforts to misinform.  Ashley Lukens and her Center for Food Safety followers are also impeding the world’s ability to do things better by attacking a technology that could make it cleaner.  It’s all about what “they” eat and how it makes them feel better and nothing about what anyone else has to eat, which is a selfish, pompous way of thinking.

People involved in an intellectual movement will know some basic tenets on how to do things.  They will research the issue well and learn all side of the it by talking to all parties.  When it comes to Hawaii, they must consider the culture, people, and history to create a collaborative way to address the problem at hand.  People involved must have a willingness to learn and work together to come up with a good plan for the future.  They will seek facts and go to the sources to develop a plan based on those facts.  The Center for Food Safety and the Food Babe clearly show that that they aren’t about intellect and creating a real plan to address their perceived problem.

As much as they claim to want to “help” Hawaii, the know nothing about agriculture and local ways when they give Vani a closed lei while being 6 months pregnant.  It’s taboo to do that according to Hawaiian culture.  Even the Hawaiian rapper didn’t even notice it on Vani either.  She wore that lei all night.

I heard a great quote that social justice warriors tend to protest the things they know nothing about.  Need evidence of it?  Just look at the characters involved.

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For the Love of Family

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Today was an absolutely crazy day.  Somedays go as planned and some days are plain old crazy.  I had been hoping for a light day at my day job so I could get to the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce’s agriculture discussion and then head out to take my kids to the dentist.  Well, part of those events happened but not all of it.

I had been hoping to get off of work early and leisurely head down to the luncheon to transport the 150 lbs of fresh papaya for the guests.  Well, I got caught up at work and had to hustle to get downtown to the event.  As I got parked and unloaded the papayas onto my wheeling cart, I discovered that the elevators were down two ramps and down about 10 stairs and behind a door.  One by one, I had to carry each 25 lb case down the step and pull the door open and drop it in the lobby.  Thankfully, a fellow farmers, Josh Uehara, came by and helped me to carry down the remaining 75 lbs to the lobby.  Then it was time to wheel those cases down the parking garage elevator and up yet another elevator.  By the time I got in, I was sweating and felt like I had a workout.

The Chamber of Commerce event was really great in that this year, it was about how can we grow agriculture in Hawaii.  The hot topic debate on GMOs had subsided and now we could get to the real goal of saving farms here and maybe even growing more.  I was fortunate to be a panel member with Paul Brewbaker, Dean Okimoto, Josh Uehara, and Shin Ho.  These folks were great advocates for agriculture and long time farmers in our community.  We all got to tell our stories of what’s happening on our farms.

I did get to meet up with lots of long time friends and allies after and then needed to head back to work.  After finishing up work, I had to run around picking up my kids to get them to the dentist on the other side of the island.  There was no way for me to make it to Kahala from Kaneohe so I had to cancel and just head home to feed my gang.

When I got home, my brother gave me a call asking me how it went.  He was initially asked to be a panel member but decided he was too busy to take it on.  He was super excited on the phone stating that he had heard me talk on the local Hawaii Pacific Radio station a few minutes ago.  I had mentioned on the panel that people think nothing of dropping $5.99 for cherries but when locally grown papayas are sold for $0.10 more at $1.89,  they complain!  That attitude doesn’t help our local farmers stay in business while costs rise, we can’t raise our costs to cover expenses.

To hear that glimmer of happiness that his frustration on running a farming business had been told to the public gave me a sense of inner peace for him.  My brother, who has no formal education in agriculture and armed with a business degree, jumped into this field to continue our family’s legacy.  It’s been a tough learning curve for him and I hear it in his voice when he needs someone to vent to.  Our family and workers provide thousands of papayas for people every single week for the last 40 plus years already.  The amount of sweat, pain, and energy needed to do this deserves respect.  If it weren’t for farmers, we’d have no local foods and we’d better start changing our views on them or we lose them forever.

After getting off the phone with him, I decided to call my dad to talk story with him.  Although he’s hitting 75 years old this year, he still dreams of a Hawaii with more farmers and really wants to see Governor Ige’s goal of doubling food production happen.  He’s toured the world to see what works and what doesn’t and learned where we need to go to make this happen here.  He wants more research and development, more university support on these endeavors, more education, a better business environment, and a freedom to farm the way he chooses.

Farming families have dreams that we can preserve this way of life here in Hawaii.  We love the open spaces of the country and seeing the land produce something that nourishes people.  We are stewards of the land that provides us with it’s fruits and we want to continue that way of life.  We also care for our community members who rely on our work to have food on their tables reliably year after year.  If we are to be sustained, we need the public to learn our stories and help us become a respected figure.  I think it’s time that we honor our farmers again as that is the reason why we have the freedoms to do more than toil in fields.  If you’re hands aren’t dirty from the farm, be sure to thank that farmer every single day.

Harsh Realities

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Every week for the last few months, I’ve been working on Sundays to be off on Tuesdays.  I may not work my regular job but I do spend a full day at my folk’s farm.  I decided to take on working 6 days a week to help them out since I do have that flexibility.  For that I’m blessed that I have the ability to do that.

Working back on the farm is a huge reminder of how hard it is to really get food put on our tables week after week. It’s something too many of us take for granted when we get to drive to air conditioned markets and pull out a shopping cart and leisurely pick up what we want to eat each week.  That is really a luxury that each and everyone has while living in modern times.  For some people, that is just hard work because they have to go through hundreds of selections to decide which is the best for them.

As I stood over the large papaya bins this past Tuesday, I really was up close with nature.  I had several nice big, brown spiders crawl up my arm and down my leg.  Some earwigs made their way up my arm.  A yellow jacket came buzzing close to my head as I leaned over to grade the papayas picked the day before.  Some ants crawled up my arms and bit me on my neck leaving me with itchy welts.  Occasionally, I find a baby centipede crawling around too.  I picked up papayas weighing just a few ounces to some weighting nearly 3 lbs.  Multiple that by the over 1000 I likely sorted out.  Working on the farm is plenty exercise in a day and I wasn’t even the one picking papaya the day before either.

The sun was beating down on my legs as I pulled the fruit out one by one and sorted them into two washing tubs.  An occasional rain would hit and then the feeling of mugginess would come over us as we washed, graded, packed and stickered the fruits.  It’s pretty monotonous work that very few people want to take on.  When my brother’s young farm hand left to try his luck on the mainland, we had very few applicants wanting to work on the farm.  With the cost of farming going up, it’s hard to have lots of workers on hand to help do all of the labor involved.  It’s almost unaffordable given all the regulations we face as a farm and as a business.

It’s even maddening to see leaders like Governor Ige touting to increase local food production to the World Conservation Congress.  His idea is to give loans to young farmers.  Seriously, how is that one approach going grow our food when the young people aren’t even the least bit interested in getting their hands dirty?  Much of their experiences of growing things are coming from teachers and school gardens.  Part of some teacher’s curriculum is to show movies like Food, Inc. to plant thoughts about our food systems rather than to go to the science of food production.  Skewed ideas and opinions form from these sources unfortunately.  Learning to grow things in gardens is a start but teachers must realize the economics of farming includes how to produce food year round for the masses.  Learning about farming must come with asking more questions rather than giving kids what to think.  If you’re garden doesn’t grow, what will a kid do to get food?  For many kids, the answer is go to the store.

I almost think it needs to be mandatory for every policymaker to come and work on the farm before they can even talk about what policies they want to make.  I’ll never forget the meeting the Farm Bureau set up with legislators some 3 years ago to educate them our needs in terms of legislation we needed.  While they sat and listened to the stories of my dad, Dean Okimoto, and others in the business, so many nodded their heads in agreement.  Then at the end of it, Senator Donna Mercado Kim said that she heard us out.  She continued on and said, “Well, I have a suggestion.  The farmers need to do  more to educate the public.” Then I saw all the other politicians nod in agreement with her on that statement.

I’m not one to have my blood boil, but that day, I truly felt so angry that I have never forgotten those words and the people in that room.  I really get mad when I see them talking so much about supporting the farmers and then in action, they do something completely different.  Simply going after a law to stop ag theft isn’t going to make farming easier.  Raising wages without any consideration for the economics of our business isn’t going to grow more food.  Adding more regulations like food safety and other things like pesticide disclosures don’t add to people wanting to farm or even being able to financially cover those costs to start selling their products.  The world of rules and laws that aren’t thoroughly vetted out is what keeps adding to the burdens we face.

Every Tuesday, I come home dirty, sticky, and tired.  My hands and body aches sometimes from the labor of the farm.  My home still has work to do from picking up my kids, feeding and bathing them, doing homework, and getting them to bed.  I could be totally fatigued by all the daily things I do but I’m not.  I don’t let those things get to me.  I want people to learn the story of our farm and family.  Our story isn’t much different from any other farming family’s one either.  Whether you’re a consumer or a politician, realize that the food that nourishes you was grown by someone who has worked tremendously hard to make it easy for you.  You’re unbelievably lucky to have the life you do because of us family farmers.

Priorities

In just a few days, the World Conservation Congress will be convening in Hawaii to talk about the environment.  President Obama will also fly here and make an official announcement of the Papahanaumokuakea Monument expansion.  We are also in the midst of a tropical storm and a hurricane.  It’s a culmination of some interesting events but only telling of our priorities.

As an island state, we are highly dependent on outside sources of food and basic necessities.  It’s estimated that some 90% of our basic goods are imported because we can’t produce these necessary items here.  Not only are the local people dependent upon imports but so are all of the tourists that come year.  That includes all of the attendees of the conference too.  Everything from rice, bottled water, and even toilet paper tend to be hot ticket items when a possible storm hits us.  The canned goods also go flying off the shelf when we know that there might not be any food or power.

When we are forced to deal with the effects of Mother Nature, we won’t be turning to a tree hugger for our needs.  While environmentalists in Hawaii are celebrating the loss of ocean access to our fishermen, I mourn the loss of some of the most essential people in our state.  When there is no food, we will need to turn to those who are skilled in providing it.  They are the farmers, fishermen, and hunters of our islands who will be there to provide us with sustenance.

Every single one of us in Hawaii will turn to those that have their hands in the soil, oceans, or forests.  The farmers are the people who know how to use that soil to turn it into food.  They also have heavy equipment that’s very useful for unplugging flooded streams or moving large boulders.  Their large delivery trucks can help get food and supplies across the island to those who are in need.

The fishermen have the skills and know how to gather food from the oceans.  They have the gear to fish for those who can’t fish or feed themselves.  They also have boats that can help transport good across the state to other when other access points aren’t available.  These folks have amazing skills in catching food, but also traversing the oceans.  The fishermen can help provide additional rescue services if there is a need as they know the oceans like the back of their hands.

The hunters are skilled in knowing the landscape and forests.  They too can gather food from the wild animals and feed many people with their skill sets.  They know the terrains and the forests to recognize changes in the landscape.  When the markets have no meat, the hunters can set forth in the forests to find food for people who can’t.

So if that storm hits us, I hope that it’s a wake up call to President Obama and all the environmentalists celebrating the loss of fishing in Hawaii.  The environmental movement has decided to focus on taking away access and tools to the farmers, fishermen, and hunters.  It’s easy to do when you’re refrigerators are full and you’ve got all what you need.  Those who feed us can’t keep doing our jobs if we are faced with attacks that impeded our ability to preserve our ways of living.  What the tree huggers don’t realize is that when all is said and done, they will be turning to us to feed them.  All of the environmentalists depend on someone to feed them because they can’t feed themselves when worst comes to worst.

Even the politicians like President Obama, Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, and our Governor can’t feed the masses and have never fed the masses.  None of them have any skill set to turn that soil into productive land for generations or can turn to the ocean and feed hundreds of people with what they catch.  None have shown that they can go into the forests to find food to feed families year after year and for generations to come.  However, despite their lack of skills, they are more than eager to make policies that affect Hawaii’s ability to feed itself.

There’s something very wrong with the environmental industry in Hawaii when it sets forth to put those who feed us out of business.  The very people who have the skills and resources to nourish us deserve praise and appreciation for the hard work that they do, not demonization that have no factual basis.  When it comes down to the reality, you know that the tree huggers will ultimately have to eat and who will they turn to?  The very people they disparage.  Is that really the pono thing to do?

If someone tells you that the farmer, fisherman, or hunter are just terrible people, before you believe it, ask that person if they can feed you.  It’s most likely that the person saying those things can’t ever feed themselves.  It’s about time that we realize who we really need in Hawaii.  If that tree hugger isn’t feeding you, should they be the ones taking away the way of life from those who actually are?

Environmental policies must be evidence based and should never be used to take away resources that feed the population without good reason.  The green movement has to stop misinforming people and either show a better way to do this or get out of the way.  When there is no food, you know that you’ll be turning to those who are providing the food.

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