A Taste of Hawaii: Waikane Store

I grew up on the Windward side of Oahu where there is still a country-like atmosphere.  As your drive out of the town of Kaneohe, you get a sense of relaxation as you head out of the suburbs.

One of my favorite nostalgic places to stop by is Waikane Store.  It used to be run by an old bachan years ago and is now run by her daughter and grandson.  I went to school with him and have known him for years now.

It’s changed a lot over the years but it’s charm remains the same.  You can find lots of local favorites in there from Hawaiian Sun juices to handmade old school style maki sushi and fried chicken.  They are famous for their ono boiled peanuts too. You’ll also find an assortment of crack seeds and candies.


Waikane Store was started in 1898 and a central stopping place for the small rural communities in Hawaii.  The area was once filled with farms run by Japanese immigrants.  There are very few farms there now and as a result, the store’s customer base has changed.  

Business is tough lately with cost of goods going up, so like many other local folks, other work helps to pay the bills.  Alden is also a great musician too and the store features his ukuleles and CDs.  He does play on a cruise boat too. 

If you want to get the true feel of old  Hawaii, take a stop in the country and pay a visit to my friend Alden and his mom.  You’ll find him slaving away in the back most of the time, but he will eventually make it out to greet you. He might even bust out a song if he’s not busy in the kitchen.

Waikane Store is one of those little treasures that remind us of old times when life was much simpler.  It’s a reminder of what keeps the country country.  If we don’t come out and support those who keep the country special, we can lose this piece of nostalgia forever.

Keep the country country.  Support those who make it the country.


Remembering Those Who Gave

Remembering Those Who Gave

Memorial Day is always a somber day for me.  I usually don’t get the day off since I work in health care where there are no days where caring takes a break.  In my career of nearly 15 years, I’ve met a lot of WWII veterans and heard their stories.  Many of these men and women have vivid memories of what happened and never forget those experiences and can recall the loss of so many of their comrades.  These people were bound by a duty to fight for the freedom of others.

I can’t help but get irked by the fact that the March Against Monsanto also falls on the same weekend.  While we honor the soldiers who fought for our freedom and others, the anti-GMO crowd would rather protest and block others from a tool that can give them food security and prevent debility.  These people are solely focused on what they eat and their own selfish “rights.” What about the rights of others to simply have food? Because we are well fed and sheltered, we have a duty to ensure that others can have that basic right.  However, that thought never crosses their mind.

As I watch the festivities happening this weekend, it’s clear that this is a time for respect and mutual collaboration.  Our veteran’s cemeteries are all being provided with leis and flags by community groups and ceremonies are being organized to remind us of the ultimate sacrifice given by many people over the decades in the fight to preserve our freedoms.

We, as a community and as a state, needs to return to those old but timeless values that applies beyond our immediate home.  We are a part of the greater global community that each of us play a part in.  What we support sends a message to the world since we have become the leaders.  

There are people doing good in the world to help others.  If we aren’t going help them, shouldn’t we at least lend our support?  The biotech controversy here sets a precedence worldwide that fear and misinformation is allowed to make poorly crafted legislation.  Allowing people to do that creates chaos and a dysfunctional society.

When people resort to just tearing the high achievers down, we get no where really fast.  It’s like crabs in a bucket. No one can accomplish anything when all the time and effort is spent tearing down the ones reaching the summit.

If we want to strive for the best outcomes, we need to work together.  No war could have been won if people didn’t work together and freedom would have been lost.  If our time is spent fighting the food fight, we can lose out on affordable and abundant food.  

It’s time to ask ourselves whether or not we want to eat or keep fighting.  We will have nothing to eat or nourish us if we attack our farmers.  If you aren’t farming, maybe you need to do things the way you want it or get out of the way!


Instead of Protesting, How About Paying Attention?

In today’s Civil Beat, a former “anti-GMO crackpot” as he calls himself, Bronson Kaahui, published a great article about the biotech issue in Hawaii. He calls it out for what it is and it’s hitting a nerve with the antis again.

I just happened to open up my Instagram account home page and came upon an angry looking Manaai Anthony calling out Bronson about the article.

In the comments he writes this so called “challenge,” which almost sounds like a threat.

This kind of stuff is nothing new to this guy at all.  When the Civil Beat articles were hot on the biotech issue, he’d tell people to do illogical things like this.

I have to wonder how this really is going to create any productive discussion about biotech.

Using this kind of logic, any anti should also consider doing this to match the challenge they offer.

The anti-GMO activists like Manaai Anthony make claims about the dangers of GMOs but then post their pizzas with GMO cheese! (90% of cheeses are made with GMOs.)

You know that if you argue with these people on GMOs, the argument will then shift to the “evil corporations.” He then sells his product to a corporation by the name of Whole Foods Kahala, and not to Whole Foods Kalihi.

I have to shake my head at this kind of stuff.  The sad thing is he preaches this stuff to thousands of followers.

It’s the same with the Thirty Meter Telescope protesters.  A commenter placed this photo in response to Richard Ha’s blog post on my page.

I sat there and read this, then remembered the protests at UH.

 This is what was on the news a few weeks ago.  I clearly see the disturbing of rocks and terrain happening and I know those posters and signs are likely landing up in the trash cans.

I responded to the commenter with these photos and he made this statement.

Something just doesn’t make sense here. If you’re going to say something, you’d better walk the talk.  You can’t be making accusations against others and then get upset when you’re called out on it.  If you truly want to be credible, then pay attention to the world around you and quit calling everything that challenges your faulty views as propaganda.

Louis accused me of mocking the culture which isn’t what my point is.  People get swept up into the emotional highs of these “movements,” then don’t even bother to think logically about the world around them.  The Hawaiian culture is one that can aspire to the highest height if more of them stop following bad leadership and catchy slogans being pushed on them by people like the Babes Against Biotech and the Center for Food Safety.  These people lead with no aloha and their followers reflect it. They yell to others to wake up.  Yes, wake up and think before you blast yourself on the internet.

Don’t cry out against corporations and wave your nylon flags. Dupont created that material back in 1935.

Conspiracies and Paranoia: Hector Valenzuela Plays the Victim

Conspiracies and Paranoia: Hector Valenzuela Plays the Victim

The latest article circulating around the social media is portraying Dr. Hector Valenzuela as a victim getting allegedly “silenced.” All I can say is seriously?

I remember a few years back, his office door was plastered in Babes Against Biotech posters in the St. John’s Plant Pathology building.  It caught my eye as I walked to the women’s bathroom.  I made a comment about this directly to him on a Civil Beat article and when I went back, the posters were gone.  I wish I had taken a photo of it!

Well, Dr. Valenzuela can act the victim role all he wants but his actions clearly shows his leaning with the conspiracy theorists.  His door isn’t as bad, but it still bears witness to his tendencies.


When someone thinks that biotech is only Monsanto and hangs around people like Naomi Carmona of the Babes Against Biotech, you have damaged your own credibility.  The “silencing” he must feel is that of his own making because of the associations he’s chosen.  Point fingers at everyone else but don’t forget that there’s three fingers pointing right back at you Dr. Valenzuela.


Naomi Carmona is a GMO expert who loved posting her Natural News and Dr. Mercola links. She’s an expert in pseudoscience.


I’m starting to think that eating organic is correlated to conspiracy thinking and some degree of paranoia.  It makes me question the whole food and eat ‘clean and natural’ diets make people lose their logic and rational thinking.  Once you’ve lost that ability, it’s easy to start hanging with the cranks like the Babes Against Biotech.

The Tree Huggers are Behind the Bleeding of Aloha

With the recent announcement of the closure of the DuPont Pioneer farm in Kekaha, it’s of no surprise that the no aloha crew is out and about again.  The commentary is just reflective of the lack of aloha about the community employed there. 

I even got a drink your Roundup one too.

  It’s amazing to be that the people who are always professing their love of nature are the most vile and show no compassion or consideration for others.

It’s no wonder people who hug trees or constantly worried about what’s going in their own mouth have never made a real impact in the real world to help others. They are too busy fighting their first world imaginary privilege problems instead of simply supporting something that can make a difference for those who aren’t as lucky as us.

Eating organic, GMO free, and hugging trees clearly don’t make for caring or compassionate people.  These are the folks that behind the bleeding of aloha.


Tulsi Gabbard: How She Isn’t Making Hawaii Better

Dear Representative Gabbard,

I recently came across an article on Civil Beat mentioning that you are once again seeking mandatory labeling of GMOs.  It’s extremely saddening and disappointing to me that you are wanting to focus on this yet talk about sustainability.  You’ve chosen to stand with people like the Babes Against Biotech who have never farmed a day in their life or have any idea about what it takes to farm day after day, decade after decade.

Your staffer finally reached out to us and took a tour to learn about our farm and apparently, what she learned has not educated you on the issue of sustainability.  My dad’s farm would not be around if it weren’t for having access to every tool in the tool box.  His farm would have been gone 20 years ago.  It was because of research and biotechnology that he continues to farm along with my brother.  Your stance to force labeling only harms our farm and the many other papaya farms that exist today because of biotech.

Why do I say that a GMO label will harm the small farms? It’s pretty simple that you fail to disclose to the public the true intent of the law that seeks to penalize any type of mislabeling.  It also exempts certain instances from needing to labeling, which makes no sense if it’s a right to know. You also fail to disclose your own money ties to the organic and health food industry.  That industry claims that it’s the consumers’ right to know but then seek to use the label as a ban. 

I’ve heard your promises of making Hawaii better and it’s apparent that you’re not even following the news as to the real problems.  Despite trillions of GMO meals served local style, your focus is on making our food even more costly.  In the Civil Beat news today, there is an entire column focused on former locals seeking to come home to Hawaii but can’t afford to.  

Then there are lots of photos of all the homeless people filling our communities.  Is spending your taxpayer paid salary being put to good use to help your constituency? That GMO label isn’t going to make the local people’s way of living any better.  In fact, by ignoring the real problems, you are neglecting us in your district.

The greatest leaders of our country left us with lasting legacies of giving to others.  Abraham Lincoln fought against slavery which was not a popular stance to take.  Dan Inouye had a vision to make Hawaii the center of research with his work on the Pacific Basin Research Center and bringing in funding for UH research and other projects to keep us at the forefront of agricultural technologies. It appears that your legacy will be pandering to the Babes Against Biotech and getting a GMO label that makes living in Hawaii even more unattainable.  It’s sad and disturbing.

Your example and stance tells the world that this technology is somehow bad if it has to be labeled.  It hurts the poorest of farmers in developing countries from ever getting this technology that can reduce their pesticide exposure, grow more food, and actually make money for them to live better lives.  

It seems that you want to listen to well-fed people who need not farm and have plenty of time to petition you for this label.  Your elitist example tells our own poor that they are consuming something perceived as less nutritious and makes them feel bad about what they are eating.  

The most admired people in the world gave selflessly of themselves to help humanity.  It’s depressing that my own congresswoman is giving into selfish stances focused solely on the rights of people who have never faced a day of starvation or suffering.  Nor have you or any of the activists ever made a living off of farming but somehow feel entitled to take actions that disrespect their tireless work.  If you want more farmers and food, you have to listen to them first and foremost.  You as a leader have to be the bigger person and lead with fact and reason.  Don’t let fear and pandering be your legacy.


Joni Kamiya

The Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter

Stirring the Hysteria Pot: Ashley Lukens and the Center for Food Safety Ramps the Fear Up Again

Recently, I’ve noticed a series of letters being printed in the Star Advertiser again in an attempt to connect pesticides to any illness and now even death.  The GMO issue has turned its target now into the public’s lack of understanding behind pesticides in the public.  It’s a great tactic as so many folks don’t have a clue about why we need pesticides to begin with.

The Hawaii Center for Food Safety is an expert in stirring the pot of hysteria once again.  They, like many activists groups, use the general public’s lack of knowledge in basic science, law, and agriculture to create doubt.  The messages they spread can create doubt from the well educated all the way to the least informed.  It’s effective by really makes people fall into foolish stances when really challenged with logic and critical thinking.  

The LTE published a few days ago by Wynnie Hee shows their tactic of hitting the lowest tier of activists, the least informed.  She uses emotionally charged words to get people to jump into the hysteria bandwagon.  She claims that the story dismissing the Hawaii Center for Food Safety’s Pesticides in Paradise report was “astroturfing” and a “propaganda” tactic.  She of course ignores the substance of the report and the problems with the cherry picking of the data and skewing of the numbers that is easily debunked by others not even in the industry.  The typical reader of this claim will just believe the claims she made and not even go back and research it out.  Most people just won’t know how to research it out or even bother to question the claim at all, which is why I consider them as the lowest level believer who is easily persuaded into joining the bandwagon of bad evidence backers


Gary Hooser also utilizes the same tactic with his Island Voices view regarding the recent ruling with the dust issue in Kauai.  He takes advantage of people’s distrust and hate against corporations.  He too uses hot words to stir up emotions of anger in an attempt to garner support for his cause.  Joan Conrow’s blog easily rips apart his claims one by one.  He continues to make repetitive statements to quell any possibility of questioning his information by his followers.  He also knows how most of his followers lack of motivation to research any of the anti-GMO activists’ claims.  
Another sign that the Hawaii Center for Food Safety is ramping up showed up in today’s letters to the editor.  Suzanne Luard Lenz tried to claim that pesticides from a non-biotech crop is responsible for the death of her father.  The lowest level activists will quickly jump on to this as “proof” that pesticides must be banned or regulated even more.  These readers won’t bother to ask the question of where’s her actual proof to support this claim and what other factors could have contributed to this.  This isn’t proof of anything, just an assumption not backed by evidence.  It’s also shameful that the Star Advertiser is printing this stuff.

It’s clear that Gary Hooser and Ashley Lukens are at it again trying to rally their uninformed emotion based masses to support their cause.  They are also fundraising for their coffers too which isn’t surprising either.

 One would think that all this money could really be put to a good cause like actually getting evidence to prove their points and determine the real sources of their issues rather than just speculate on it.  The truth is that it isn’t about anyone’s health or standing with facts.  When Ashley and Gary can tout Vandana Shiva as their spokesperson, it’s clear that the entire issue is just one of pure manipulation.

The day that the anti-GMO groups like Hawaii SEED, the Center for Food Safety, and the Babes Against Biotech show their own transparency about their agendas and actually give something tangible to people, maybe I’ll see them as more credible.  They should readily post the fees they paid Shiva to make the rounds here and match it with that same amount to gather data that supports their accusations.

The discerned reader with a good skeptical eye can see what’s happening.  The pot stirrers are at it again.  How many unsuspecting people can we get on board again for the cause? It’s like the high school tactic of spreading a false rumor about someone and repeating it over so that it’s believed and never questioned.  I’m tired of seeing people being made into fools by falling into this immature behaviors.  


Photos of spraying anything stirs up the hysteria when unsubstantiated claims are posted with it. Instead of trying get the facts out, these people make assumptions about what may be happening. Note that those in the Democratic party supported the anti-pesticide law but that very law would have exempted the county and state as well as landscapers from disclosures. My dad said this was likely dye sprayed in landscape approved use of a herbicide which is common practice in the turf industry.

It’s ironic that those who claim to love nature and environment tend to have the most dishonest type of tactics and yet demand transparency of others.  Some feel that the farmers should submit to some of their demands to “work” with them.  These people are not about collaborating and always have ulterior motives.  No one should ever cave to the demands of the dishonest folks.  It’s no wonder they protest instead of sitting down to an honest discussion to actually accomplish anything.

It’s Time for the Rubbah Slippah Folks to Rise Up!

It’s Time for the Rubbah Slippah Folks to Rise Up!


My dad and brother are just loaded down with papayas these last few months so they could not attend the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association meeting.  I worked the weekend so I could take a day off to attend it for keep my dad updated as Hawaii Papaya Industry Association president,  as well as served as a panelist.

At the meeting, I had a chance to shake hands and speak with Dr. James Brewbaker.  He is well known as the father of sweet corn in Hawaii and was influential in bringing the seed companies here to Hawaii as pineapple and sugar started to close down.  He worked to keep the country country, literally.  

Dr. Brewbaker shared with me that he’s finally going to retire.  He’s already in his 80’s but is still at work in the fields.  He told me that there will be a plant breeder position to fill when he leaves.  He also said that out of some 50 he’s worked with, very few are local folks.  That is just telling about how many local people know of future opportunities in agriculture. 

There is so much talk about growing Hawaii but the action isn’t really happening.  To drive down the country to see fields of green is reinvigorating and re-energizing after sitting in traffic day after day.  Leaders talk about supporting the very thing that keeps the country green, but then are launching attacks against those who farm it.  The environmentalists talk about preserving nature and take to fencing areas off and chipping away at local folks’ ability to hunt for food like their ancestors did.  Government agencies are creating sanctuaries to keep ocean users out of these areas despite no real evidence that support it.

I just consider myself a regular local person.  I have two pairs of the staple footwear of Hawaii which is also known as rubbah slippahs. Big Island farmer, Richard Ha, crafted that term to represent the local folks.  I have one pair of slippahs for home that is for getting all pilau (Hawaiian word for dirty) and another nice pair for going to the store.  Lots of us locals do this.

The kinds of actions being taken against the farms, oceans and forests users are just slowly chipping away at what the Rubbah Slippah folks can do.  We folks aren’t usually the ones to make a big brouhaha about it as we’ve usually trusted our leaders to be there for us.  In this day and age, that is clearly changing.  It seems no one elected is willing to take a stand to back the local ways of living.

Our leaders seem to feel the need to listen to loudest squawkers to ensure their seat in office.  Some are completely turning a blind eye to using sound reasoning and evidence to base policy in and prefer to pander to those who can’t see the unintended consequences.  This shortsighted kind of thinking only harms the future opportunities.

I really think it’s time for the Rubbah Slippah folks to start rising up or there will be no one to speak for what we want and treasure.   Will you join me?


A Mother’s Day Wish


It’s been nearly 6 months since my grandmother on my mom’s side passed away at the ripe old age of 88.  Taking care of her the last 8 years of her life was the hardest job I ever did, but one of the most rewarding indeed.  It was a honor to be able to let her live the last few of her years surrounded by great grandchildren and her beloved dog at home.  Being in her home for 50 years gave her a decent quality of life, despite her many illnesses including diabetes and dementia.  

She was hard headed and fiercely independent her entire life but also one with great love and a vision for her children and latter generations.  She always told me that she never had a chance to go to college since she was one of the younger siblings in her family.  Because her family was very poor, it was customary for the younger ones had to work to help pay for the oldest child to go to school.  She always felt like she was denied that chance to make a better life for herself.

It was through this sense of frustration that she became determined to give her children opportunities to go to college.  My grandma and grandfather worked multiple jobs to earn money to get my mom and her sister through college.  Grandma did not want to have her kids feel what it was like to be poor. My grandparents persevered and my mom became a teacher and my aunt became a nurse.  Both entered professions that my grandmother had dreamed of pursuing but never had the chance.

My grandparents giving spirit and vision did not end with their kids.  It continued on to the next generation.  When the grandkids were born and both grandparents were free on the weekends, they too helped on the farm.  The farm was a whole family event that really embodied the concept of laulima, or many hands working together.  If they weren’t watching us, they washed papayas or were lining boxes with newspapers.  My grandpa had great carpentry skills so his job was to cut lumber and build bins for picking papayas.  So many relatives would join us on the farm to do something to help out.  The farm really created a tight knit family to help succeed.  

The entire family believed in the farm and got together to make it work.  My dad had a vision of what he wanted for his farm.  Grandma Hee had a vision about what she wanted for her children and grandchildren too.  Like my dad and his belief in the value of hard work, my grandma felt the same way.  You had to have a vision of what you want and be willing to do the hard work to make it happen.  They both led by example by walking the talk.

Now that I have children of my own, I too have aspirations of making a good life for them.  I want them to have opportunities through education to make a life for themselves and become contributors to this world in some way.  I’ve been taught this and hope to pass this on to my children.

This Mother’s Day, I really don’t need any fancy material gifts because I have everything I need.  I have the best gifts already in three young lives.  I will continue to open their minds about the world around them and hopefully continue to fill it with wonder and a sense of curiosity.  Someday they will be doing something good to help make a real difference in someone’s life.  That is my wish this Mother’s Day!


Laulima: Restoring Our Roots

Laulima: Restoring Our Roots




Hawaiian for: “Many hands working together.”

In order to achieve our goals, working together is imperative. 

The Hawaiian culture has some really beautiful terms that seem to have been lost in modern times.  It’s been A’ole GMO and now A’ole TMT.  That is apparently the hot term for fighting everything and waging a war and crusade lately.  

When I keep hearing a’ole over and over, it really gives me the sense of constant fighting but no semblance of a possible alternatives.  If we keep fighting, one side will always be at a losing end.  In our own families we don’t teach our children the a’ole way.  Parents would go bananas if all they got from their kids was no, no, no and our kids would despise us if all we said was no.  Constant battling would become tiresome also.  Being in that mindset is just not healthy or sustainable.

In my own family, my husband and I create standards for our kids in terms of discipline.  Each kid has the same set of rules applied to them at their own developmental level.  Our expectations are set the same for both kids as much as is applicable.  How our leaders run our state should not be much different either and the standards of the lawmaking should be evidence based.  

If our laws and activities were not standardly applied to our citizens, there are fights likely to break out.  It’s no different when parents aren’t fair with their kids and the kids see and feel it.  This just creates dysfunction in the core unit and it impedes the ability to run smoothly.  Nothing can get done when there is a constant state of fighting because of the perception of inequality.

The concept of laulima is something that have been absent in any of the issues at hand in our state.  I don’t even hear our leaders mentioning this term that helped to provide a pillar to build society upon.  There are so many problems in the world and so many hands that can be used to build something together.  Keeping our hands on signs protesting something doesn’t contribute to problem solving.  It only leads to shortsighted decisions that can have too many unintended consequences.  The many hands can be put to better use by helping a fellow human in some form or fashion.  Those who are willing to work with each other can come to the table and find common ground on the topic and move forward by working collaboratively. This is the example we need from our leadership and participants in any issue.

If we continue to forget our roots and not care about the examples we set, our future generations will only perpetuate the negativity.  It will live on from issue to issue and the ugliness will continue in our system.  I cannot stand by and not speak out about this because this is not the Hawaii I want my kids to know.


Slogans left on the UH Manoa Campus Center stairs.


Graffiti left in a bathroom stall on the UH Hilo campus.


I’m asking folks to look back at our local roots.  Our roots came from using many hands to build our beloved local culture. Instead of using a’ole, how about we move forward in saying laulima?