Ugly Teeth

Little kids have no filter in what they will say about things.  My five year old, Katelyn, always reminds me of that daily.  A few days ago she told me that she wanted to become a dentist and fix people’s teeth.  I asked her why she wanted to do that.

She sat and pondered for a brief moment then stated that she wanted more people to have nice teeth.  She went on to tell me that she wanted to fix her papa’s teeth because they didn’t look very nice.  She sat and thought for a bit, then asked me why was his teeth so ugly.

I told her that her papa, my dad, grew up very poor.  As a kid, going to the dentist meant money being spent.  The only time they went to the dentist was if they absolutely needed it.  She was totally shocked that he didn’t go every so often like she does when he was her age.  Katelyn was very surprised.  My kids have never known poverty.

I went on to tell her how he spent time with his dad combing the dump to find metal scraps and parts to be reused.  She couldn’t believe that he did that as a kid.  I told her that without money, you had to use things that people no longer wanted.  There was no Home Depots around to buy hardware or other building supplies.  She couldn’t believe there were no shopping malls either.

I asked her if she knew how papa got food as a kid.  She stated confidently, “A market!” I said nope, not a market.  My grandparents raised their own food from chickens, pigs, and dairy cows.  Eating chicken meant killing the bird and cleaning it.  She pondered it a bit and asked about the feathers and the blood, to which I confirmed that it was messy.

I asked if she knew how papa got milk.  She didn’t know so I told her that papa’s mom would milk the cows and then boil it before serving it.  They didn’t have a refrigerator back then so milk had to be made daily.

I even told her how my dad didn’t need a toy box either.  Everything he played with was homemade.  He’d even use bits of aluminum foil to make something to play with.  Used tin cans also made a toys too.  Some rope and a bunch of banana stumps could form a raft.  There was no TV or computers back then.

  
Katelyn was simply amazed to learn about my dad’s childhood.  I asked her if she wanted to live like he did and she said no way.  I asked her why.  Her reply was that she liked having a nice dentist, toys, and a refrigerator.  

It’s funny that little kids can grasp the concept of how hard life was back in the old days.  Too many adults can’t even understand that when life back then was tough and yet is romanticized that it was better.  We have life pretty easy thanks to the hard work of those farmers who are so efficient.  Katelyn, a five year old, got that and even said she felt lucky.  

We are lucky and one would think we would be grateful for it.  Maybe that is a lesson that hasn’t been learned by the people behind the anti-agriculture movement.  What happened to showing thankfulness for what we have?

If the adults can’t model gratitude, what example does that set for the next generation?

The Last Farmer Standing

The Last Farmer Standing

  
In a few hours, there will be lots of people gathering at the legislature in downtown Honolulu to talk about farmers.  They are miles away from any farm but many have an opinion about it.  Meanwhile, my dad, brother, and their workers are in the fields, are the ones living and breathing farm life.

As a third generation farmer, my brother is coming to the harsh reality of farming.  They have over 20 acres of trees planted and ready to be harvested every week.  With only 4 people, it takes hours to pick all of the fruits.  He just finished working over 12 hours and they still weren’t done.

On top of that, those same fruits must be processed.  That includes grading, cleaning, sorting, and packing it.  After that’s done, it all goes into the refrigerator to maintain it’s freshness to be ready for market.  Hawaii’s moderate climate can accelerate ripening that can lead to damaged fruit in shipment.

The next day of work means delivering it to stores.  With Honolulu’s bad traffic, there’s always delays along the route.  We are fortunate that there are dedicated customers waiting each week for them but they’ve run low on patience lately and complain of the short supply due to cooler temperatures and delivery delays.

Imagine spending nearly 24-28 hours working in the hot sun all day doing back breaking work only to have angry customers.  Do people have no idea how hard it is to get a single fruit into the store? Have we become so impatient and ungrateful towards those who grow our food? Is aloha running so low in everyone lately? Please tell me it’s not so.

Well, after a day of delivering, the work doesn’t end.  The bugs attack the trees and can destroy an entire field making the fruit unsaleable.  The weeds can sap nutrients from the trees and rob its sweetness.  One must go back to the elements and tend to that field that provides for your food and roof over your head.

You would think that you’d find peace and solitude tending to your field, but sadly, there is no peace there.  Homes now border much of the farm lands across our state.  Instead of getting friendly waves from your neighbors, you get to faces fearful mothers and others who think you’re poisoning them. Other neighbors stand on their porches warily watching you as you spray things like sulfur to protect against bugs. Because you’re not an organic farmer, they assume you’re polluting the air, even though you use exactly what organic farmers use.  

Then if you need to spray for weeds, it’s even more terrifying for the neighbors.  Forget the fact that their other neighbors probably use it and it’s used across the state on the highways, parks, hiking trails, golf courses, and by landscapers, to see a farmer use it is a heinous crime in their eyes.  They’d complain of dust and runoff if we forgo weedkiller so it’s a losing battle.

You might say why not hire more people to do the work.  It’s easy to say but finding the right people is hard.  Thanks to minimum wage hikes and mandatory coverage, the cost of more labor sometimes means no income for the farmer.  Medical coverage is very expensive and if the weather is bad or there’s too much bug damage, it’s tough making ends meet.

It’s even harder to find anyone who wants to work on a farm too.  The labor force used to be high school or college students.  They no longer want these jobs.  The ones who do want the jobs, former criminals looking for a second chance, can’t be hired because of our leasing agreements.  Labor is a major problem here that limits us tremendously.  There is also a lot of training needed for farming too and as soon as some catches on, they move on to another job.

My dad is also on the farm at 74 years of age.  He’s building sheds, driving tractors, packing fruits, delivering, moving bins, and literally busting his buns 12 to 14 hours a day at least 5 days a week and at least half a day on each weekend day.  His golden years are still spent on the farm and not leisurely relaxing like most retirees.  No one works as hard as that man, and yet he never complains about it ever.

My brother came with optimism and hope to farming but as times change, sometimes the reality sets in.  The public keeps talking about growing Hawaii and keeping it local but we aren’t even supporting the local farmers in word or action.  

Something needs to change or this will make us a three generation farm.  Will you help lend your support to the small Hawaii farmer in word and in action? For all the work that’s put into growing food, can you send some appreciation to your farmer when you see them or even speak up for them when someone says something incorrect?  

Stand up for what you love and show it.  Be grateful and appreciative to those who grew your food.  The time is now.  The Hawaii farmers need you now or we will just become another memory of that special local business that is no more.

Don’t let my brother, Mike, be the last farmer standing.  Support your farmers now!

Let our politicians know by sending them a message at sens@capitol.hawaii.gov and reps@capitol.hawaii.gov.  Take time to write a letter to the editor on behalf of the farmers.  We need your voices now!

Protect the Keiki and Kupuna 

I do a lot of training of new interns at work and have noticed a very disturbing trend.  I rarely see them asking how to best prepare for it prior to starting.  I somehow get the feeling that I’m supposed to be holding their hand to teach the everything despite having been educated for 3 years.  People need to come with a desire to learn and take initiative to be active in the process.  If not, how can one ever be a good professional serving their clients?

It’s no different for politicians.  One cannot best serve people if they don’t learn the facts.  I’m not surprised that the younger ones like Rep. Chris Lee of Kailua and Rep. Kaniela Ing are leading the charge for the Center for Food Safety’s anti-GMO, anti-agriculture bills.  Ing is even using this issue to fundraise for himself!  They clearly like the attention created by this outside litigator group over focusing on the real issues and haven’t learned to appreciate the advances made in agriculture.  

What is a major issue that needs to be prioritized here that will forever change the aina and affect the most vulnerable?  It’s not farms and it’s not pesticides.  It’s something more dangerous to our entire state if we don’t address it now.  In fact this problem will likely impact all farms and endanger all farmers and their workers.  It will also affect everyone’s ability to access beaches and parks if we do not educate people about it.  

If evidence led the way, the legislature would be making this a top priority and funding efforts to address it now.  The public deserves resources directed to actual problems that plague us and and work on stopping it.  Groups like the Center for Food Safety will not educate the public about this issue and the very tools needed to combat it.  They turn a blind eye to it.  Meanwhile, the danger remains  ignored.

The SHAKA Movement is no different with their tactic too.  Whether it be the fire ants or dengue fever, that is or no concern to them.  They continue to manipulate people’s fears around pesticides and GM technology.  They waste public resources that could be used to solve these problems.  

Then again, maybe history needs to repeat itself.  The organic industry really isn’t about the health or wellness of others.  In Uganda, they helped to block malaria spraying to maintain their certifications for organic cotton.  As a result of this fear campaign where people were told they’d be infertile and have other unfounded issues, some 2000 children die each day from malaria.  There’s no gray area to balance saving lives by going organic because it’s not based in evidence.  We can’t endanger lives because someone won’t use factual evidence.  That’s irresponsible and deadly.

So while Rep. Lee and Rep. Ing are busy peddling fear with the likes of alien believers of Shaka, the entire state’s aina and its people are left to the side effects of dengue fever and the little red fire ant.  We, the public, deserve better service than self serving charlatans that put us all in harm’s way.  

Politicians in Hawaii clearly do not understand the process of science.

A Terrifying World

A Terrifying World

Hawaii, with our population of just over 1.13 million spread across 7 islands, is apparently a great place to divide and conquer.  It doesn’t help that our school systems are struggling to perform up to standards and the university system has its internal battles.  Hawaii is the perfect place to unfold the Pesticides in Paradise aka anti-agriculture campaigns in our communities, since many newcomers have no understanding  of our agricultural systems or roots in plantations.

The state’s motto of perpetuating the land in righteousness doesn’t help when it’s taken literally.  It’s great to love the land and care for it but the methods used must be good too and based in evidence.  There are several non-governmental groups convening here to dictate their policies upon our people to the point of pitting neighbor against neighbor or even family members against each other.

It’s the dividing of communities and the demise of expertise that I find terrifying here.  Someone who has no idea about basic biology seems to be considered a legitimate resource over someone with a doctorate in molecular biology is simply not right.  Hawaii politicians continue to be hoodwinked by these internet educated “experts,” but ignore the expertise of a farmer with an agriculture degree and 40 years of in the field work.  A political science major and paid lobbyist has more clout on policy than those who know the needs of our farmers.  Where did we lose sight of agriculture’s vision?

I’m even more bothered that more outsiders like Zen Honeycutt, a profession paid activist, is attempting to dictate best practices for farmers.  Watch what Moms Across America leader, Zen Honeycutt, has to say about hydrogen.  (She’s also the mom who told others about glyphosate in breastmilk, which was debunked.)

Dr. Joe Schwartz does a great critique of her video.

Rampant nonsense

This woman should be locked away. Probably in an asylum. Spouting such absolute nonsense is a criminal activity. I won’t even comment on her pathetic lack of knowledge of biochemistry or her simplistic view of oxidation. Let’s stick to her recommending molecular hydrogen as an antioxidant. Technically, hydrogen is an antioxidant because it can be oxidized. Never mind whether it can be absorbed from the digestive tract and go on to act intracellurally, there just isn’t any significant amount in this crazy remedy! The solubility of hydrogen in water is 0.00016 grams per 100 mL of water. This is an insignificant amount. 

Even if free radicals were the problem to the extent as she believes, which is not the case, the impact of this trivial amount of hydrogen gas would be insignificant. It is truly galling that someone like this who has absolutely no understanding of chemistry, biochemistry or physiology is out there giving people health advice. A student with grade 10 stoichiometry can calculate that the amount of hydrogen that can be delivered by drinking this “hydrogenated” water is insignificant. Then this twit goes on to say that the water that is formed when hydrogen is oxidized to H2O helps hydrate the body. Right, like taking a drop of water out of the ocean makes the level go down.

Zen was just here in Hawaii on a misinformation tour targeting moms.  It’s clear that she can’t teach others what she doesn’t know.  Someone gave her a nice Hawaiian vacation to do this, just like Jeffrey Smith, Pesticide Action Network, EarthJustice, and so many others coming here but there’s no trace of who is financing this while demanding transparency of others.

Despite not having a medical license of any sort, she will gladly dispense advice to people to cure them of they ailments or get them to believe that there is an issue.  She thinks there’s more than one hydrogen and yet she claims to understand GMOs.  Sure.  

Then there was Dustin Barca pushing the fear mongering yet again.  Today it wasn’t chemtrails, but those GMO heavy chemical experimentation.  It was really netting to protect the crop from invasive birds.

  

Between Zen and Barca, it’s clear that they refuse to learn and love talking about things they clearly don’t understand.  Their expertise is getting others to jump on the wagon with them blindly with no questioning.  The bandwagon doesn’t need more fearing education.

It’s sad that these supposedly are “educated” people leading the cause.  I don’t want Zen or Dustin trying to figure out how to deal with dengue fever or the Zika virus here.  I don’t want them dictating what crop inputs we should use on our farms.  It’s not their domain of expertise. People like them would claim it’s a conspiracy and not provide any real viable option.  

In a world full of information at the tip of your fingers, it’s terrifying to know that bad information is leading the charge. The trend to dismiss real university acquired information is indeed disturbing.  The attempts to equate a certain company to a highly esteemed university like Cornell is a case of the Internet going bad.  We should all be striving to aspire to become well educated in order to help others.  Choosing a way of eating based on the Food Babe and others out to sell you something isn’t really doing your part at saving the world.  

You’ve got to want to learn to understand to call yourself educated.  Go to the educators not Google.  Be genuinely educated and go forth to be a part of the community.  

It’s embracing higher education that will move Hawaii forward and cultivate that spirit of hope in the next generation.  In the spirit of the upcoming lunar new year, look at the festive lion dances and see how great things happen when we work together.  That is Pono.  That is aloha.