Cooking With 100 Percent Local Ingredients

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 29, 2010
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Volunteers at last year’s Eat Local day at MA‘O Farms in Waianae eat locally grown food after a day at work in the fields

Last night I made dinner using only local ingredients. With a few bunches of kale, some ong choy, green onions and locally grown carrots, I made a cream of vegetable soup. I used Waianae butter to oil my soup pot, alaea salt for seasoning, and I served it with a sprinkling of herbs from the garden. Earlier in the day, I made a breakfast omelet of Ka Lei eggs, Hamakua mushrooms and garden-grown green onions. And for lunch, I created a colorful farmers salad with local greens, Big Island goat cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers.

You might think I’d be feeling well-prepared for Kanu Hawaii’s Eat Local Challenge, an awareness campaign that runs through Oct. 2, but you’d be wrong. Eating local - 100 percent local, that is - might be easy for a day or two, but beyond that it becomes worryingly difficult. Even if you have a small kitchen garden, it doesn’t do much to take away our dependence on container ships from the Mainland.

“Eating local is not as easy as people think,” says Kanu Hawaii’s executive director James Koshiba. “What we’re trying to do this week is to make people more aware of the fact that we are so dependent on food not grown in Hawaii, and that at any time we are only 12 days away from disaster.”

He’s referring to the fact that we hold only about a two-week supply of food in the Islands; for the rest, we rely on the Mainland.

It’s the second year of the Kanu Eat Local campaign, and organizers expect to see high numbers of participants.

A (nearly all) locally sourced burger from the author’s kitchen: North Shore Cattle Co. beef, Hauula red and North Shore yellow tomatoes, Maui onions and Tsuji Farm lettuce

“Last year we put together a rather last-minute campaign,” says Koshiba. “About 800 people joined our effort. This year we’re hoping to have more than 2,000 people.”

Kanu encourages community members to take action and pledge to change something in their own environment, believing that every committed action has a reaction, no matter how small.

“People don’t have to commit to eating local all week,” says Koshiba. “They can just choose one day.”

Or one meal.

Participating restaurants will make it easier for those committed, but with no time to source food and cook. Town, Tango and Umeke Market are a few of the restaurants that offer locally sourced dishes this week, and at Foodland they’ve gone the extra mile to help those who really want to succeed.

“Foodland has produced a week-long menu,” says Koshiba, “with a printable shopping list that’s available online.”

Foodland and KTA stores on the Big Island also will have an increased number of locally grown products in their stores this week.

And if you still want to show your commitment to the sustainability issue but aren’t sure you can give up your Big Mac and fries, then Kanu has a week of activities planned to educate and increase awareness.

From field trips to movies, there are a number of different ways to get - and stay - involved.

“The whole point is it’s a fun, accessible way to start,” says Koshiba. “Hawaii is so vulnerable,” he adds, “this is a way to make people more aware.”

More information at

Happy eating!

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