Fear is not Sustainable

Nomi Carmona of the Babes Against Biotech was not present at the State Capitol. Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety was a no show. Walter Ritte wasn’t even there too.

Where were these people who claimed to be saving people? I thought they cared so deeply about their cause. None of these folks were around at the Hawaii State Capitol at Ag Day this past Wednesday.

Six years ago, Ag Day was tense and stressful. The long time farming community members were being accused of harming others and the environment through politicians and activists. While we prepared samples to give that day, on the back of my mind was who was going to come at us with some kind of claim and how I needed to respond. I honestly did not look forward for that day for years but knew how important it was for us to be there.

Fast forward to 2019, we had no GMO balkers or fearful questions at all. Instead, several hundred graciously received a slice of fresh papaya. The “issues” we had were the PETA activists who ate papaya earlier only to be scolded by their leader that it was GMO on their second walk around.

Ag Day this year was pleasantly peaceful. Actually, every year following the height of the GMO hysteria has gotten better. Why?Where are the naysayers? Is the savior cause dead?

Truth is, there was no one to save and all the fear whipped up was just fear. The Nomi’s and Ashley’s of the world had no idea that the average human can’t remain scared. Our brains simply don’t work or thrive on fear. At a certain point, the outer cortex of our brains start to think to quell the irrationality because constant fear is unhealthy.

The fervor of the anti-GMO movement hit its peak and now can’t pick up the momentum. One man who used to come each year to ask me GMO questions stopped. He walked up and grabbed a slice of papaya, savoring each bite and returning twice. He was enjoying it this time instead of fearing it.

While the anti-GMO folks stayed home, the reliable ag community came out in force to showcase their work. We won’t ever preach about sustainability, we show it in action. We aren’t yelling and scaring people but are feeding people. We don’t have time for drama and have lots of work to do to fill a need in the community.

Food is what sustains all of us. Farmers are the ones who put sustainability into action. We will outlast any loudmouth transplant any day.

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Tomorrow is Ag Day at the State Capitol. We will be taking off of work to “educate” our politicians and the public.After nearly 10 years of doing this, I’m not as nervous about being there like I used to be. I’ve learned that fear is not sustainable.

My brother spent hours preparing for ag day. On Monday, an entire day was spent in the fields harvesting the papayas. Then on Tuesday, the day was spent grading, washing, and packing papayas to get out to the store. Tomorrow, is delivery day to get to our many loyal customers across the island. My dad won’t be there because he will be delivering fruit to his fan base at Times Supermarket.

Tomorrow I have taken off of work to work at the Capitol. As farming folks know, we are giving people. We are always asked to donate to various events and hand out samples. We give of our time and of our fields to the community. We go into schools to teach kids and students about our work. There is no pay for the time we put into these events.

Although there are many supporters in the legislature, we face many foes. Instead of being appreciative of the work we do, there are people there who smile at us insincerely as they walk past booths. As soon as the event is done, they return to vilifying farmers through “lawmaking.” Politicians can easily be swayed by many Google farmers in Hawaii.

I watch these two-faced folks walk by and wonder if they have a conscience. Six years ago, GMO was all the hype that needed to be banned. While people like Councilmember Gary Hooser, Senator Russell Ruderman, and Senator Mike Gabbard railed against GMOs, they wore and consumed products produced from this technology. Those early years threw so many farmers under the bus and really made us feel terrified to face the fear-filled public.

My hope for tomorrow is that the ag community comes out strong and stand behind our work so that these politicians stand with us and not against us. So many of their constituents rely upon what we produce day after day, year after year. Their voices are rarely heard over the loud, misinformed full-time activists who represent only themselves.

I know many politicians will enjoy samples of papayas tomorrow. If they can eat it and be nourished, they should have the guts to support farmers in action. No more “I love farmer” talk and then build on farm lands political fluff. I’m really sick and tired of hearing the same old bullshit claims being made by politicians representing minority voices claiming to be sustainable.

Don’t smile at me then demonize farmers. I’m not having it anymore and not tomorrow.