Just Living…Just Food

I’d like to talk about one of my favorite topics, food.  In Hawaii, we import about 90% of our food and export about 80% of our agricultural production.  Growing up in Hawaii, we primarily ate processed foods that were typically unhealthy and came a very long distance to get to my table.  There are several things I am trying to do to remedy this.  First, I am trying to eat organically and locally to the extent possible.  Whether it be growing my own food, shopping at the farmer’s market, or at produce stores that carry primarily local or organic foods, such as Down to Earth, I am attempting to eat foods in which I know where it came from.  I reduce my carbon footprint by doing so, because of the fuel saved, whether it be by plane, train, or trucks, when food is not imported. Eating local means you are eating fruits and vegetables seasonally when they have the fullest flavor and nutrients.  It also supports the local economy, benefits the environment, and promotes food safety.  I try  to eat organic because it reduces my body’s total toxic burden, it is non-GMO, it is richer in nutrients, antioxidants, and lower in heavy metals, and because it is good for the Earth.

In Honolulu, I have found the Kaka’ako Farmers Market at Ward Warehouse on Saturdays to be a fun and enjoyable experience.  You can learn more about this market at my wife, Shelly’s blog. A favorite vendor of ours is  MA’O Farms out of Waianae.   MAʻO is an acronym for mala (garden) ʻai (food) ʻopio (youth) or youth food garden and it affirms their belief that when we reconnect and restore the relationship between the land and the people, we are able to return abundance and prosperity to youth, to their families and to the community.  Shelly and I try to buy our fruits and veggies for the week there. We have also joined the national organization, Slow Food USA and the local chapter Slow Food Hawaii.  The aims of Slow Food Hawaii are to:

  • Advocate for renewed interest in and support for our local food culture
  • Promote biodiverse and sustainable producers and purveyors on our a’ina and in our ocean
  • Bring people together to rediscover the pleasures of the table

I am also trying to get involved with research projects that promote food justice here in Hawaii.  One project I am excited about involves promoting backyard aquaponics in the town of Waimanalo and developing curriculum to promote nutrition, healthy lifestyles, social support, and sustainability of the aquaponic systems.  There is a large Native Hawaiian population in Waimanalo and because of its rural location, there are few grocery stores that provide quality produce at reasonable prices.  Through this project, we hope to develop leadership within the community to support one another around the use and maintenance of aquaponics, share information about what grows well in these systems and exchange healthy recipes that can be made from what is grown.  The most common fish raised with good results in aquaponics is tilapia.  Besides lettuce and herbs, native medicinal plants such as ‘olena, otherwise known as turmeric, has been grown with good results.   We also hope to raise awareness around the use of medicinal plants in healing or la’au lapa’au.  I have the honor of working with two wonderful colleagues, Dr. Jane Chung-Do (University of Hawaii Public Health) and ‘Ilima Ho-Lastimosa, MSW.  I hope to share more about this project as it develops in the future!

What are ways in which you are promoting food justice?  I’d love to hear about your ideas and the things you are doing.

Photo found at AVAKonohiki.org

Spotlight: Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian Best of 2016

I’d like to take the time to spotlight a blog by a friend who is very special and extremely talented.  The blog is called Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian and the author is Relando Thompkins-Jones.  I met Relando when he was a student at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, where he worked with our team facilitating intergroup dialogue with high school youth in Ann Arbor.  Since then, he has never ceased to amaze me with his grace, thoughtfulness, and skills.  He is an outstanding dialogue facilitator and diversity educator.  When I become Associate Dean of the School of Social Work, I hired Relando to teach the course I created on Intergroup Dialogue because of the trust I had that he would deliver the best course possible for our students.  And, he delivered many times over!  Click on the link below to sample some of his most popular blogs of 2016.  I encourage you to follow and return often to learn more about his journey.

Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian Best of 2016

Introducing Just Living 808

Mahalo nui loa or thank you very much for reading Just Living 808.  There are several reasons I chose to write this blog.  First, I have been a social justice educator and researcher for over 25 years now and have published primarily in academic journals.  While I have had success in publishing close to 100 manuscripts, my reach has primarily been others in the academy.  I hope to change that by having my writing and thoughts accessible to a larger community of socially just minded people and perhaps even non-socially just minded folks as well.

My second reason for creating Just Living 808 is to find a platform where others can share their thoughts, not only with regard to my work but also contribute their ideas in collaboration.  I hold only a partial truth through my life experience and understand that I need to hear about the partial truths of others as part of the journey toward seeking a higher truth.  Your contributions will not only enhance my work, but in a small way, I hope that together, we can create new visions and solutions toward a just society.

In Just Living 808, I will include some of my previous work, but also contribute new and original work from my experiences in education and research.  I will also highlight some of the outstanding work that is happening in communities around the world that can serve as possible models for just living, but my work will focus primarily on my two homes, Detroit, Michigan and Honolulu, Hawaii.  Just Living 808 will also focus on indigenous ways of knowing, including Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultures.

Finally, a note on why I call this blog Just Living 808.  For me, it is a reflection of the socially just life that I am pursuing, my own personal revolution.  But it is also not a life that I hope to fabricate, but organically live.  I hope my vision of social justice will be just living.  808, for those in Hawaii who know, is the area code of my homeland.

Thank you again for reading Just Living 808.  I hope you return and find many new and interesting ideas and thoughts that might be beneficial to you and your communities.  A hui hou!