HawaiiWritten by Jason Ubay On 07 September 2011
Public figures join the Eat Local Challenge

“Eating local is an elegant solution,” says Alani Apio of Kanu Hawaii. “If we can solve the problem of food, we can solve a lot of our problems.”

On a humid and misty Wednesday afternoon, Apio spoke at the City and County of Honolulu’s Ag in the City event, officially launching Kanu Hawaii’s Eat Local Challenge. The challenge “calls on people across the islands to eat locally grown food in order to build a more sustainable, secure and healthy local food system,” according to a press release. The goal is raise awareness on issues facing food and agriculture industry in Hawaii. Kanu hopes 2,000 people take the pledge.

People can take the pledge online, and some notable public figures have joined as well. Dee Jay Mailer, CEO of Kamehameha Schools, the state’s largest landowner, has taken the pledge, and said that agriculture programs at KS is generating a new generation of farmers. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle also took the pledge, saying, “We should be eating local food from local people.”

Restaurateur Ed Kenney  (@edstown) of town and downtown restaurants followed up by saying he just had a revelation. For years, eating locally has been a grassroots movement, but now pressure is coming from the top level, citing Carlisle’s commitment and the White House garden. It’d be crazy to be in that middle group and not jump on this movement, he said.

The event also celebrated the second anniversary of the Honolulu Farmers Market at the Blaisdell Center lawn. Brian Miyamoto of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation said this farmers market and the many sprouting up would not have been possible without the first HFBF farmers market at Kapiolani Community College. Miyamoto said it struggled in its first year, but writer Joan Namkoong and Conrad Nonaka of KCC’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific kept on pushing and nurturing it. Today, the market brings in 7,000 to 9,000 visitors every Saturday.

This year, Kanu Hawaii has increased the Eat Local Challenge from one week to one month. In past challenges, 777 people pledged to eat local in 2009; 1,507 people pledged in 2010. As of Sept. 7, 568 people had taken the pledge on Kanu Hawaii.

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Managing Editor, Hawaii Business magazine. He's also representing the mag on Facebook and Twitter at @hawaiibusiness. You can follow him on Twitter at @jubay.

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