The Food Babe Hates the Small Farmers of Hawaii

The Food Babe Hates the Small Farmers of Hawaii


Just when I thought there would be nothing more for me to blog, it never fails that some anti-GMO post comes up that just infuriates me.  Who is the latest awardee of the anti-education/ anti-farmer movement? It’s none other than the Food Babe.

The Food Babe has decided to attack the small farmers of Hawaii that includes my dad, brother, and their farm manager, Neil, as well as the hundreds of others including the organic farmers.  She posted an article telling her dimwitted, gullible followers to avoid Hawaiian papayas because they are GMO.  She spells out the types that are GMO and the ones that allegedly aren’t.  She even tells people to buy papayas from other countries and claims that even organic ones are contaminated.

From her anti-Hawaii papaya post:

She never discloses any real facts about the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association either.  She only perpetuates the repeated, factless myths about biotech and tries to make a connection about pesticides to papayas.  I laugh because the Environmental Working Group found that papayas have some of the lowest residues of pesticides yet they quickly tell consumers to buy organic variety without any explanation! Nor does Vani mention that the people who grow papayas here are all small family farms!

Why I say the anti-GMO folks are anti-education is because she has no mention about the nature of the modification or how this technology saved the industry here.  These activists talk about people being in the dark about GMOs but they obscure any facts from their followers.  Facts make people think and thinking is dangerous to this house of cards.


She will never post real science or anything that actually educates people like this.

I’m starting to think that this anti movement is really anti-American at heart.  They attack an innovation that has saved the smallest of farmers that have no ties to big ag.  They attack the legacies of long time, multi-generational farms here in Hawaii.  Majority of the papaya farmers here came to the U.S. with nothing and built themselves up through hard, honest work and dedication.  Their families learned the same lessons and carried on those same dreams.  The Hawaii farmers are becoming fewer as many are retiring and the next generation does not continue those farms.  Vani and her ilk must want people to quit farming altogether with the way she blatantly spreads misinformation.

It’s really disgusting how people like the Food Babe and others like Nomi Carmona of our Hawaii Babes Against Biotech can bring nothing but factless campaigns to our state and feel good about their actions.  They perpetuate attacks against the hardest working people I know.  They can sit pretty and go on TV or spout their BS about their “expertise” against farmers.  How can anyone with a conscious ever do such a thing? Apparently it’s easier to make money lying than it is to farm.  These women know nothing about earning an honest living through actual hard work.  A broken finger nail is likely devastation to their careers.

I applaud the generations of papaya farmers that toil on their farms everyday to grow these miracle fruits that Vani Hari calls them.  Yes, it’s a really good product that millions have enjoyed for nearly 20 years thanks to biotechnology.  Our customers who buy our papayas for decades know how healthy these biotech miracles really are.  Vani probably doesn’t even know that papayas are staples here and might contribute to why Hawaii has the highest elderly population in the US.

So Vani Hari and the other anti-education activists out there need to get a clue and either work on a farm and grow a comparable crop.  They need a lesson in honesty and some work ethics before them come criticizing my fellow farming friends.  When the Food Babe can grow a sweet papaya like our Hawaii farmers and talk real science, I might stop criticizing these charlatans of Google.

P.S. Food Babe better adopt her precautionary principle with the imported papayas.  Many countries have their own strain of PRSV infecting the papayas making it a natural GMO.  Guess she’s better not eat these fruits at all!

 

The Evolution of a Family Farm

My family has close to 80 years of farming experience.  My grandfather started it all.

My grandfather, Thomas Yushin Kamiya, as a young boy.

  

My dad collecting grass for his water buffalo.

  

My Uncle Paul with one of their dairy cows.


 

Fields of bananas planted.

 

My dad with my grandmother outside their old house.

  

Cattle grazing in the pastures below the Koolau Mountains.

  

My grandparents cattle roaming the pasture.

  

My dad, as a teenager, driving an old military jeep.

  

Back in the 50’s, my dad learned to hunt.

 

My grandma tended to her dairy cows every morning.


 

The old family house that sat beside the Koolau mountains between rice paddies.

   

My grandparents farming in Waikane Valley. They grew beans, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and bananas.

 

Our farm manager’s son helping out with the planting.

  

My dad plowing the field to get it ready for planting.

  

The trees that was saved by science.

  

Farming is a family thing with my mom and daughter processing the fruit.

  

Farming is a business and it takes HR skills and some marketing savvy to sell your goods.

  

Our farm manager, Neil, resting in the shade after a day of picking.

  

If it’s not picking or planting papaya, it’s fixing stuff.

  

My dad on his 1974 Ford tractor.

  

My brother, the next generation, planting next year’s crop.

 

My dad with my daughter, the next generation of farmers.

 

 
 

 

The Great Responsibilty of Science Based Knowledge in the Age of Information

As I think more about my experience of going into my daughter’s fourth grade class, I came to a realization about the need for us as well fed individuals to be responsible for the kind of information we share.  I reminded them of how lucky we are and that it’s important for us to use good information regarding the issues at hand.  What we share may have an impact upon others that we are not aware of.  Just because we don’t see these people, it doesn’t mean we should not care about them.   

We have a wealth of information available to us and because of that, we have a great responsibility to use it wisely.  Why? It’s because misinformation can become very harmful and even deadly in many cases.  

One example of the harm in misinformation comes from what happened to my great grandmother.  She died in her 20’s because she believed that drinking vinegar was good for her.  Despite it being naturally derived, she was told that it was helpful.  She wasn’t well educated or given professional advice and just believed it.  She died when my grandmother was a young girl.

The misinformation about the Japanese Americans being spies for the enemy without any evidence is another example of bad policy that harmed people.  My uncle lost everything, from his belongings, house, and his business because of this unfounded belief.  He has to live in an internment camp for sometime as a result.  When it was clear that the Japanese did not pose a threat, he was released but had to start anew again.

Despite having an wealth of evidence showing that vaccines are safe, a single man and his bad study caused significant harm and death.  The former Dr. Andrew Wakefield unscrupulously spread fears about vaccines causing autism and unleashed decades of vaccination refusals.  People even gave bleach to their children in hopes that clearing their guts will get rid of autism.  Babies have died from being exposed to preventable illnesses or suffered permanent injuries as a result of unvaccinated children.  Measles has come back recently with several hundred being affected by it.

Bad advice about cancer treatments has also taken lives too.  The preference for supposed natural cures have cost lives being taken away too early. Is that fair to a child to be denied treatments that could save his or her life? Do we deny them a chance at a better life or is nature the preferred course to take because one fears modern medicine?

The story of Matthew Sheppard is another one where misinformation and hateful ideology led to his death.  With the media spreading allegations about homosexuality, it’s of no surprise that so many people became homophobic.  Parents shunned their children for being gay.  That in turn led to harsh feelings towards gay people and some going as far as killing people and even some being bullied and escaping through suicide.

While the much of the developing world is being denied the opportunities to grow better crops, the western world can keep new agricultural technologies from these farmers.  We don’t hear or see how farmers from India are thriving with Bt cotton and needing less pesticides to grow it.  We don’t see how much cassava is turning toxic due to plant disease.  We don’t see or experience those problems so many people feel the need to express fear about a technology they do not understand.

We never see our children going blind or dying from something so preventable like vitamin A deficiency. Instead of speaking truthfully about this potential solution, the activists state things like vitamin supplements and carrots and leafy greens will be better.  Duh, if it was that simple, why didn’t it happen? 

It behooves me even more about the how other food providers are hit by the misinformation campaigns.  So many people love their sashimi and poke but then will state that Hawaii is overfished.  If that really were the situation, where’s the data to support this and why aren’t markets stopping the selling of fish? It’s because what’s being said in the media just isn’t supported with evidence.  The hard working fishermen are left with a bad reputation while we still enjoy our raw fish. 

The Internet has given people who have no connection to agriculture a loud voice.  Just because they are loud, it doesn’t make them right in their assumptions.  All of their demands have consequences that many haven’t even considered at all.  Policies should always reflect the evidence available as the best source supporting it.  That is how we disperse information responsibly and end unnecessary hysteria and harm people’s livelihoods.

We live in a world of plenty.  Plenty information.  Plenty food and clothes.  Plenty of things to do.  Because we are blessed with plenty things, we have to add in responsibility.  Google does not give one a license to promote harmful misinformation.  The social media does not give one a license to share badly research memes and links.  Everything we do must be done responsibly.  It’s our role as a global citizen and to each other.

 

My dad is the hardest working person I know. Sharing bad information harms his way of living as well other small farmers who benefit from technology around the world. Be a responsible information sharer!


 

Agriculture Awareness Day 2015

  

Yesterday was the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Ag Day at the State Capitol in Honolulu.  As always, the ag community came out to educate the public and our politicians about farmers and food.

I took off of work to help my dad out for the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association table.  Instead of slicing papayas this year, we handed out the whole fruit.  The papayas we gave out were the Rainbow type from a new field my dad bought up in Haleiwa.

Off grade fruits that are too small to sell in the stores but perfectly delicious to eat.

I even brought along my Biofortified plushies of Frank N. Foode and Lanakila Anuenue Papaya.  These were total hits and awesome conversation starters.   

    

                

Courtesy of Sarah Thompson.

Courtesy of Mae Nakahata.

  

Courtesy of Mae Nakahata.

  

Courtesy of Janelle Saneishi.

Mahalo to all of our friends and supporters who stopped by for a papaya and came with an open mind to learn more about papayas.  The more people support local farmers, the more they can produce those locally grown foods.  

Never forget to be grateful for the food you eat and the things you wear and use. You can bet that a farmer had something to do with it!

 

Rise Up People: Redefining What It Means

 

My grandfather with his grandparents, my great great grandparents, dated in the 1920’s.

 
My grandfather literally was dirt poor.  His parents, my great grandparents, left Okinawa seeking a better life for their family and Hawaii was that opportunity.  They left their familiar home to start a journey to make a better life for themselves.  It’s a story that many of us here in Hawaii share regardless of our ethnicity.

What helped to get my grandfather ahead and to provide for the family was hard work on the farm.  He started off raising pigs, then onto dairy, and finally to producing vegetables and finally papayas.  This was very hard and laborious but he did it for his family.  

All of his kids including my dad was required to help on the farm.  If he wasn’t on the farm, he was with his dad scouring the dump for metal hardware that might be usable again.  It wasn’t fun to walk a dump but to a little kid, it was fun.  If he wasn’t at either of the places, he was supposed to be at school.  

My dad’s childhood as well as his time in the military, as a minority, taught him many lessons.  He learned what it meant to work hard, do a quality job, respect the elderly, and make the family proud.  He learned appreciation for what he had.  Some of these values are ingrained into Asian culture, and local culture to some degree from the plantation days.

As a result of his upbringing, I too was raised with these values.  I was raised in the old fashion way of having very strict parents with tough rules and high expectations.  We were not to do anything to shame our family name and do our best to make the family proud.  We were expected to get an education and go beyond what our parents achieved.  That is my cultural upbringing.

It was stressed upon my siblings and I that we do better than our parents.  They were the first generation of college graduates and we were expected to surpass them if we could. All of us did complete college with 3 of us getting master’s degrees.  I paid for my own graduate education with loans and scholarships.  This made my parents proud even though they never stated it to us.  My dad would say, ” Well, that’s what I expected of them!”

When one comes from nothing, once you find the key to success, you embrace it.  They key for our family was getting an education that set the foundation for my future.  Education provided a wealth of opportunities and options.  It opens your eyes to the world and what’s happening as well as gives one a strong base to critically evaluate the events around us.  

My dad stressed to me that with this education, I had a responsibility to be a contributor to society.  I always keep it in the back of my mind and exemplify this with volunteering with elder care organizations and advocating for my day job profession.

When I hear the slogans used by protests calling to “rise up,” I have a different concept in my mind.  I see rising up as getting truly educated at a higher institution of learning and not via Google.  Rise up as people who started from nothing and figure out ways to be a genuine contributor in this world.  Embrace your cultural values and demonstrate it in all you do.  It is each of our duty to make this world better through real education and using a factual basis to solve real world issues.  Ask yourself if you have truly done your due diligence researching the issue to see the whole picture to voice your stance upon.  Using misinformation doesn’t help the cause, it just weakens it.  

The world already has too much discord and turmoil and adding more doesn’t improve anyone’s situation.  Being steadfast in your beliefs drawn from misinformation doesn’t leave much in the way for collaboration.  If you’re finding your information being challenged as false, be willing to accept it instead of fight on a weak stance. True discussions and dialogue are much more productive that way.

People can continue to take the literal course of action of rising up or take the symbolic meaning to rise up that can sustain itself from each generation to the next.  We all have those choices and opportunities.  Which path do you think will have the most impact with the issues at hand?

Mahalo to the House Agriculture Committee

As a kid, my folks always told me to say thank you when someone helps you out.  I am indeed thankful for lawmakers making the hard and unpopular decision to stand with facts and reason.

 Here’s the message I sent the committee:

Aloha Chair Tsuji and Vice Chair Onishi and AGR committee members, 

 I wanted to send out a quick mahalo for supporting farmers like my dad with your deferral of HB1514. For nearly 3 years, there has been what feels like an onslaught of poorly crafted legislation that has brought my dad and brother to the Capitol to defend their work. There are many people in the activist movement that are trying to attack the large corporations not realizing that farmers like my dad becomes the collateral damage. There is a lot of fear being spread by these same people creating a hysteria among a poorly informed population. 

 My dad’s morale has been pretty low the last week upon finding out about all of these anti-farming bills. I have never heard him talk like that. Farmers are ways optimists but get worn down with misinformation attacks. By your decision to stand with facts and reason, it restores hope for my dad to see my brother to take over the farm in the next few years. 

He should be retired by most standards but is a lifelong worker, 7 days a week most times. This is his life and passion and no activist can take that away by being dishonest. 

 Our family appreciates your brave decision to support farmers over the activists. It’s this kind of message that gives us the incentive to continue farming. That’s how we grow Hawaii! 

Mahalo for doing the right thing!



The Hawaii Democratic Party Wants Farmers Out of Business

The Hawaii Democratic Party Wants Farmers Out of Business

Either the legislative caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party doesn’t read bills properly or are missing a few screws. They apparently have made it clear that they want agriculture out of Hawaii.

Read their testimony below:

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Relating to House Bill 1514 Testifying in Support

Aloha, Chair Lee, Vice-Chair Lowen and Members of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection,

The Democratic Party of Hawaii supports HB1514 Relating to Environmental Protection, which requires disclosure relating to outdoor applications of pesticides by certain commercial agricultural entities, especially in areas that impact Hawaii’s Keiki and Kupuna. The establishment of reasonable buffer zones where regulated pesticides are dispersed and the necessary funding for enforcement by relevant State agencies are imperative. The good agricultural practices that are described in this bill should be commonplace for all of Hawaii’s responsible farming community.
As is evidenced by the many resolutions adopted at numerous State Conventions, the Democratic Party of Hawaii has long been dedicated to the promotion and protection of all of Hawaii’s people, food sustainability and our island environment. Therefore, we encourage the committee to vote favorably on this bill.

Mahalo for the opportunity to testify, The Legislation Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawaii

Well, Democrats, apparently you are wanting food sustainability but then want to make it harder for farmers. You want to protect the keiki and kupuna from pesticides but won’t regulate all others who use it including the state and county. You want to protect the environment without pesticides and let invasive species overrun the aina. You also feel it’s okay for farmers to be sued and have to pay for these lawsuits. Wow.

Well, I guess I can add the Democrats to the list of people who want to put farmers out of business. I guess papaya and produce grown in Mexico is better than the locally produced foods. That’s how we will help our food sustainability goals Democrats!