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.
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?