Why buying local is important

The other day I was talking with Shin Ho, the 29-year-old who runs Ho Farms in Kahuku with her family, and the subject of buying local came up.

She said she gets frustrated when people complain about the prices of her vegetables, particularly her tomatoes. They’re pricier than the ones flown in from farms outside the Islands. But they’re not priced that way to rip off customers.

“It’s a very humble job,” Ho said. “It’s not like we’re rich.”

It got me thinking about buying local — and why it’s so important.

And how hard it actually is.

Last night I opened up the fridge and looked inside. Most of what’s in there — from ketchup to Crystal Light — isn’t locally produced. The only local items were milk, tomatoes, eggs, kale, honey, a container of butter from Naked Cow Dairy and a little jar of strawberry jam from Kula Country Farms.

That’s it.

It’s pretty shocking how much we rely on imports. By some estimates, between 85 and 90 percent of Hawaii’s food is imported. Meaning, we are heavily dependent on outside food sources. A dock strike or natural disaster would cripple us.

And it all depends on us.

If we buy more locally grown fruits and vegetables, bought locally made products and supported small businesses in the Islands, we could make a difference, create a demand that demands the supply.

But that’s easier said than done.

We’ve been making strides, albeit small ones. Derek only buys local beef. We’ve been growing our own herbs and veggies for years. And we try to support restaurants that use local ingredients.

Too bad we don’t grow acai.

So how do you do your part? What local products do you buy or businesses do you patronize?

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10 Responses to “Why buying local is important”

  1. Melissa August 6, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    LOL! You & I both blogged about supporting local business today.

  2. David Jackson August 6, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Sister… you make it so I am local again I will buy local. All day every day. I’ll even chase local women. The unmarried kine.

  3. Harry Coviar August 6, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Just about all my veggies in my fridge are local. Some of the fruits are mainland based (Nectarines and Bananas). I think the Pork is local (Chinatown). Not sure about the beef though. No dairy products from Hawaii except for Ka Lei Eggs… TOO GOOD!

  4. M August 6, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Hello Cat,
    Every Saturday we go to the farmers market to buy all our produce.

  5. Patrick August 6, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I get local fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market and Foodland. Surprisingly, Costco carries a decent amount of local produce, like Manoa lettuce and Big Island tomatoes.

    Locally produced eggs and meat are just too expensive for me tho.

  6. Guest August 6, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    I always buy local if it’s specified and there is a choice. If I see a sticker or something i’ll buy it local except for kula strawberries which are just too expensive. I bought them only once. Usually eggs and other produce. I never buy the mainland eggs.

  7. Johni734 August 7, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Ho tomatoes are so good, and the quality is worth the price. Yes, we should support our local farmers. We can’t be totally self-sufficient but we need the choices that local farmers give us.

  8. bumper August 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Local products might be priced higher for a legitimate reason, but for many cash-strapped families, that’s still a reason not to buy them. I wish I could always shop with my conscience, but financially, I’m just not there.

    Local growers should continue to build relationships with places like Costco, where they can still make a profit (by selling greater quantities) while keeping prices affordable for everyday local families.


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