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On Tuesday night, at Church of the Crossroads, organizers held a first organizational meeting towards forming a islands-wide Food Policy Council.

What is a Food Policy Council?
Food Policy Councils (FPCs) bring together individuals and community members from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it. FPCs may take many forms, but are typically either commissioned by state or local government, or predominately a grassroots effort. Food policy councils have been successful at educating officials and the public, shaping public policy, improving coordination between existing programs, and starting new programs. Examples include mapping and publicizing local food resources; creating new transit routes to connect underserved areas with full-service grocery stores; persuading government agencies to purchase from local farmers; and organizing community gardens and farmers’ markets.

While FPC’s are not a new concept, their structures, practices, and policies are still evolving. Although the first Food Policy Council started 30 years ago in the city of Tennessee, only in the last decade have Food Policy Councils really gained momentum, and today there are over 100 councils in the United States (see a full list).

From Denise on O`ahu:
If you are concerned about Hawai’i food security, local decision-making and control, school lunches, farming, farm land, nutrition, or land use get involved with  FPC.

The first meeting was very well attended.  George Kent and Stuart Novick are the main organizers.  Very inclusive, consensus style, this is just the beginning.

The suggested purpose is to ‘ensure good nutrition for all, under all conditions.’  Important to include everyone that wants to participate and publicize what is already going on and co-ordinate everyone’s efforts.  Local/area FPCs in Hawai’i will/are already being developed.

If you want to stay informed and/or participate in a Working Group contact:  fpchawaii@yahoo.com. There are several opportunities (you can join more than one group):

POSSIBLE FOOD POLICY COUNCIL WORKING GROUPS:

ORGANIZATION WORKING GROUP. The OWG will develop an FPC charter and rules, including membership procedures, decision making, organizational structure, financial structure, and leadership.

COMMUNICATIONS WORKING GROUP.  The CWG is responsible for internal FPC communications and also external communications to and from others. It will establish an Internet-based communications system to support the work of the FPC, and provide technical assistance to those who need it.

HEALTH AND NUTRITION WORKING GROUP. The HNWG will focus on ways in which Hawaii’s food system affects the health of its people, including those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition.  Special attention will be given to infants, preschoolers, school children, prisoners, the homeless, people with disabilities, people with low income, and the elderly.  It would also give attention to specific nutrition related concerns such as overweight and obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

FOOD SYSTEM WORKING GROUP.  The FSWG will describe, assess, and propose improvement in the food system in Hawaii, including the potential for strengthening local farming and gardening. They will promote contingency planning to ensure Hawaii’s resilience in the face of uncertainties regarding rapid onset crises such as tsunamis, electrical power failures, and failure of the water supply system, and slower-onset crises such as failures in the global, national, and local economy; climate change; and energy shortfalls.

COMMUNITY FPC WORKING GROUP.  The CFPC-WG will assist and support community FPCs in all islands with research, data, communications and planning.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS WORKING GROUP The GRWG will determine what agencies are involved with FPC related concerns, what they are doing and plan to do, what legislation is being proposed, and whether new legislation is necessary to achieve the FPC’s aims.

The Communications Working Group is your link for support.  If you have questions, ideas, or problems to discuss, email :  fpchawaii@yahoo.com

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On September 18, the bill to ban genetically modified taro unanimously passed First Reading in Maui County. Congratulations, Maui!!  Second and Final reading on this extremely important bill will be coming up this Friday, October 2nd.

From friends on Maui:

Ban on GMO Taro for Maui County–we’re almost there! Take part in this historic action and express your support!

If you have a chance, take a few minutes to call and talk to Council members Baisa (270-7939), Pontanilla (270-5501) and Molina (270-5507) before Friday.  Thank them for their yes vote and urge them to do so again.

Also let Victorino (270-7760), Mateo (270-7678), Kaho’ohalahala (270-7768), Johnson (270-5504), Nishiki (270-7108, and Medeiros (270-7246) know we are behind them and to keep the bill strong — no compromises.

The enforcement issue is one that can be resolved.  There are no excuses for this not to pass.  No changes between the last reading and this one will mean it is straight up, easy vote.  Keep it simple and sweet.  Let’s see a 9-0 vote again!

Testimony can be sent in by email (county.clerk@mauicounty.us) or come and join us in person.  If you can’t make it to the hearing, keep support for the kalo in your sights this week.  If you don’t want to speak – bring a kalo plant to show support.  Stay focused on what is important – protecting Hāloa.

Keep envisioning this bill passed without changes – for all kalo and effective immediately!

From us guys at KAHEA: Mahalo pumehana to the Maui community for all their good, hard work and their passion and care for Hāloa. There is no question that you are making a tremendous difference. We urge all who are about Hawai’i and who love their poi (!) to show their support by sending in testimony to the hearing on Friday! Please take a second also to forward this alert to friends and ‘ohana!

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From Alana:

A bill to prohibit genetically engineered taro is still being debated on Maui. Counselors are unable to decide whether to let the bill pass or not and say they want more information. The bill would prohibit “any person to test, propagate, cultivate, raise, plant, grow, introduce, transport or release genetically engineered or recombinant DNA kalo, or taro.” Citing it as “biological pollution”, Council Member Bill Medeiros also says:

I think we need to be brave. This is not something popular to do. This is something right to do.

The bill was met with some opposition, though, by the Department of Environmental Management Director Cheryl Okuma, who basically says that it’s too much effort to enforce the ban.

Laziness from the Dept. of Environmental Management should not deter kalo from having a secure future in Hawai’i.

Click here for the full article.

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Kani ka uwalo, mele ‘ai pohaku!
Hosted by KAHEA, Na Kahu o Haloa and the Hawaiian Caucus

photo by ian lind

photo by ian lind

The Ku‘i Kalo record was set this past Tuesday at the Haloa Jam Taro Festival on O‘ahu:

– 350 lbs. of Hawaiian Kalo- no panic, all organic!
– 300 People to Ku
i i ke Kalo!
– 100 Pohaku Ku
i ‘ai!
– 50 Papa Ku
i ‘ai!

and about 600+ folks came to enjoy good healthy food, good roots music and plenny good kine talk story. New friendships were brought face-to-face over shared papa ku‘i ‘ai, pounding and mixing varieties and colors of kalo together into thick pa‘i ‘ai.  While old friendships and family connections were renewed in recognizing ancient pohaku ku‘i ‘ai- remembering unique shapes, textures and the coolness and weight of a particular stone last held in childhood.  These very stones now gathered in action in the middle of the modern city, by the very greatgrandchildren of  the farmers who fed Hawai‘i for thousands of years.  Together relishing the first finger-fulls of thick homemade poi, so ‘ono, so natural. Hand pounding alone releases the depth of the root’s rich flavors.  The call to gather and ku‘i was heard in the na‘au of many brothers and sisters of Haloa, all excited and honored to share in this historic moment, to share this ancient and sacred food, to share gifts of huli, to share the nourishing traditions of aloha aina.

Got good moments? Please add your photos to this group photo album: http://photobucket.com/oahutarofest2009

– Just click on “Add photos & videos to this group” at the top of the page to upload your photos.
– Use the bulk uploader if you have a lot of photos to upload. It makes it really simple.
– If you have trouble using the group album contact NaKahuoHaloa[at]gmail.com

The Haloa Jam was ‘ono, so they say…

ku mana

photo by ian lind

– Check out these beauties, from Ian Lind. He really captured the feeling of the festival, was soo lovely! http://ilind.net/gallery_2009/poi032409/index_6.html

– Sweet article from the House blog: http://hawaiihouseblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/poi-pounders.html
Their photos. or slide show, nice shots!

– A friend in the Slow Food Movement, http://blog.shareyourtable.com/2009/03/taro-festival-at-state-capitol.html

– Our hosts, the Hawaiian Caucus: http://melecarroll.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/third-annual-legislative-hawaiian-caucus-day-at-the-state-capitol-showcases-hawaiian-culture-practices-and-values/

PLEASE ADD ANY OTHER PHOTO ALBUM OR ARTICLE LINKS
in the comments section below.

Taro Festival Participants and Activities Included:

– Na Kahu o Haloa – Hawaiian Taro Varieties
– Hui Ku Maoli Ola –
Native Hawaiian Plant Nursery
Hawaiian Kalos – provided by farms in Waiahole, Waihee, Waipao, Waianae, Kanewai, Waimanalo-Oahu; Wailuanui, Keanae-Maui; Halawa-Molokai; Waipio, Pahoa-Hawaii; Waioli, Olokele-Kauai.
Papahana Kuaola – Hands-on Ku‘i Kalo Demonstrations
Historic Record-Setting of Most Ku‘i Kalo in Modern Times!
Kalo Farming & Native Stream Ecosystems
Organic Kalo Farming Techniques
– Ka Papa Loi Kanewai, UH-Manoa – Imu Kalo, Kalo Pa‘a Tasting and huli to kanu!
– KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance-
Legislative Advocacy for Taro Farming
– Na Pua No
eau – Konane Board Making and Kalo Identification & Art
– Halau Ku Mana Charter School – Halau Hula
– Ka Pa Ola & Alana Natural Therapies – Lomilomi
– Green House
– Urban Gardening
– HawaiiSeed –
Local Farming & GMO Awareness Education
Invasive Species Awareness Booth
– Papa Ola Lokahi – Hawaiian Health Education
– MANA –
Movement for Aloha No ka Aina
Kanikapila roots music jam session, with members of Guidance, Mauna Lua, JamaHang, Natural Vibes, Kupaaina and Miss Paisley of Tempo Valley.
Kalo Potluck hosted by Onipaa Na Hui Kalo – varieties of poi, pa‘i ‘ai, kalo pa‘a taste testing and… kalo poke, kalo curry stew, kalo greek salad, kalo & limu ho‘io salad, kalo matzo ball soup, kalo fritters, three lu‘au stews, sweet fried kalo koina! and…can’t forget the fish and limu from the many seas of Hawai‘i nei!

Mahalo nui loa to the many ‘ohana who came together to kui i ke kalo,
E OLA HALOANAKALAUKAPALILI!

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From Jim Quirk’s article in Hawai’i Island Daily West Hawaii Today:

The Hawaii County Council voted 9-0 Wednesday in favor of a bill from North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago on its second reading to ban genetically modified taro and coffee.

It was a circus-like atmosphere Wednesday in Hilo’s Ben Franklin building, where the meeting was held. Children played in the hallways outside of the council chambers waiting for their chance to speak along with their parents. A man standing in the hallway corner sang as he strummed the strings of a guitar.
The council, meanwhile, listened to a different tune, one delivered by the seemingly endless convoy of residents who took turns at the microphone to give their two cents on the proposed ban.

About 70 residents testified in Hilo, while about 30 testified via teleconference from the council offices in Waimea and Kona. There have been no major complaints about banning genetically modified taro, but with coffee it’s a different story.

On one side of the debate are those who believe genetic modification of coffee could eventually spell disaster for the island’s coffee industry. Off-island buyers would not be interested in Kona coffee that has been purposely or accidentally genetically modified, the proponents believe.

Then there are residents who believe, among other things, without genetic modification of coffee, there will be no scientific answers when disease strikes and destroys Big Island coffee.

A vast majority of residents who spoke Wednesday said they were in favor of the ban.

Dr. Hector Valenzuela, a vegetable crops extension specialist with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said he — unlike all of his peers at the college — supports the bill.

He said the scientific community should be concentrating on aspects of agricultural research, such as teaching farmers how to sustain crops without having to rely on chemicals, rather than genetic modification.

Bill proponent Chuck Moss, a Kona coffee farmer, said one potentiality of genetically modified coffee is that experiments in creating coffee trees without caffeine could spread to other trees. If that happened, it would be hard to market Kona coffee, he said.

“How can you tell the difference from a regular tree from a decaf tree, or a regular bean from a decaf bean?” Moss asked.

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong furnished results of a poll he conducted recently that shows 82 percent of 89 Big Island coffee farmers support the bill.

He said during a separate interview that his office identified isle coffee farmers using the phone book, Internet and personal knowledge.

During a previous meeting, representatives of the Hawaii Coffee Council indicated a majority of island coffee farmers are against the bill, Yagong said, which is why he wanted to conduct a poll to find out for sure.

Hilo Councilman Stacy Higa, who voted against the bill on its first reading, said Yagong’s survey changed his mind.

Mayor Harry Kim, who is still not back to work full time because of his recent heart attack, made an appearance early in the meeting and expressed concerns that the bill wouldn’t allow genetic testing of coffee in the lab setting.

He requested the council consider developing a system where research at places like the University of Hawaii at Hilo would be able to continue.

Kim could attempt to veto the bill, but it seems unlikely it would succeed because of the unanimous council vote Wednesday.

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Art kindly donated by Solomon Enos, Hawaiian Artist/Farmer.
Support Native Art! http://www.HawaiianArtPlaza.com

A big MAHALO! is due to the hundreds of people who responded to the call from taro farmers! They submitted testimony in droves and packed the room at the Water Commission hearing last Wednesday in Haiku–to demand that East Maui Irrigation Company (EMI) stop diverting every last drop of water from the streams of East Maui.

The Commission took two days’ worth of public testimony and ultimately agreed with the taro farmers, scientists, and general public that EMI is diverting too much water from at least 8 of the 27 streams at issue.  The Water Commission ruled that EMI must return at least 12 million gallons of water a day to those 8 streams in order for the native stream life to survive.

This is a historic decision was made possible only by the consistent and growing public pressure to uphold the constitutional rights of taro farmers and the legal obligations of the state to protect native ecosystems against the profit-seeking interests of corporations.  Mahalo piha to everyone who took the time to participate.  This decision will serve as a model for water restoration efforts throughout the islands.

Here is the mahalo we got from the attorney for the taro farmers in East Maui, Alan Murakami with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation:

Mahalo nui loa for all the help…  I think it really helped get the word out and I was impressed by the hundreds that responded to our call for help.

There is still much to do during the so-called “Adaptive Management System” being overlaid on this decision.  It simply means that the staff will use the next year to do what it was supposed to do before the decision on appurtenant rights…

In short, I think the community pressure put on the company and the commission worked wonders.  You should congratulate yourself for the supportive work you did.  Now the implementation… more work to do and I hope I can count on all of you to post the updated information as it becomes available – both good and bad.  I certainly think the news of the almost miraculous restoration of conditions at the muliwai is one of the headline things to report.

The fight continues today with a contested case hearing in Haiku to invalidate the leases improperly issued to EMI and its parent corporation, Alexander & Baldwin, for use of the land where the diversions are located.  Whatever the outcome of this contested case, history has already been made in East Maui and nothing can stop the people-powered momentum towards restoring all the streams that have been improperly and immorally diverted from their nature course for far too long by multi-national industrial agriculture corporations. Stay tuned for updates on this string of historic decisions.

Mahalo nui loa to the people of East Maui for continuing this historic fight, and their legal team at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.

Life is where the water is.
As the Hawaiian kupuna and natural resource experts had foretold- just one month after restoring stream flow to Waikane stream, in Wailuanui East Maui, native marine life has already re-inhabited the stream, estuary (muliwai) and bay. The local community can finally return to their traditional practices such as farming, fishing, and enjoying the cool water recreationally. It had been 30 years since the Waikane native ecosystem existed in its natural healthy state. It is hoped that coming generations will not have to experience the environmental devastation that the community has suffered without water.

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Since the announcement late last week about the attempt to corrupt and co-opt traditional farmers’ attempt to secure a simple 10-year moratorium on GMO taro, we’ve heard your outrage! Many of you have written to ask for details about the vote. You’re getting ready to plant your vote, and you’re taking names!

NINE Ayes (Voted pro-GMO in favor of amendments)
Rep. Clift Tsuji, Committee Chair (South Hilo to Kurtistown, Big Island) reptsuji@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Tom Brower (Waikiki/Alamoana, Oahu) repbrower@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Jerry L. Chang (Keaukaha to South Hilo, Big Island) repchang@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Robert Herkes (Puna to Kona, Big Island) repherkes@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Joey Manahan (Sand Island, Mokuea, Kalihi Kai, Kapalama, Oahu) repmanahan@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Ryan I. Yamane (Waipahu/Mililani, Oahu) repyamane@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Kyle T. Yamashita (Pukalani to Ulupalakua, Maui) repyamashita@Capitol.hawaii.gov

TWO Ayes with reservations
Rep. Glenn Wakai (Moanalua to Salt Lake, Oahu) repwakai@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Corinne Ching (Nuuanu/Alewa Heights, Oahu) repching@Capitol.hawaii.gov

THREE Nos (Voted in support for true protection of Haloa)
Rep. Lyla Berg (Kahala to Hahaione, Oahu) repberg@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Faye P. Hanohano (Puna to Pahoa, Big Island) rephanohano@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Colleen Rose Meyer (Kaneohe to Laie, Oahu) repmeyer@Capitol.hawaii.gov

The “poison pill” amendments prohibit any future moratoriums on any GMO, even at the county level. At the same time, these legislators reduced the moratorium to 5 years and limited the protected taro plants to the Hawaiian varieties only. Read the amendments:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2008/CommReports/SB958_HD2_HSCR1769-08_.htm

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Call Your Representatives:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/house/members/members.asp

Call Your Senators:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/senate/members/members.asp

You can also copy and paste the email addresses below, to email all of them:

reps@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repawana@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repbelatti@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repberg@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repbertram@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repbrower@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repcabanilla@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repcaldwell@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repcarroll@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repchang@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repching@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repchong@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repevans@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repfinnegan@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repgreen@Capitol.hawaii.gov, rephanohano@Capitol.hawaii.gov, rephar@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repherkes@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repito@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repkaramatsu@Capitol.hawaii.gov, replee@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repluke@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmagaoay@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmanahan@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmarumoto@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmckelvey@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmeyer@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmizuno@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repmorita@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repnakasone@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repnishimoto@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repboshiro@capitol.hawaii.gov, repmoshiro@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reppine@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reprhoads@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repsagum@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repsaiki@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repsay@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repshimabukuro@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repsonson@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repsouki@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reptakai@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reptakamine@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reptakumi@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repthielen@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reptokioka@Capitol.hawaii.gov, reptsuji@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repwakai@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repward@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repwaters@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repyamane@Capitol.hawaii.gov, repyamashita@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sens@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senbaker@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senbunda@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senchunoakland@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senenglish@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senespero@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senfukunaga@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sengabbard@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senhanabusa@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senhee@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senhemmings@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senhooser@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sendige@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senihara@Capitol.hawaii.gov, seninouye@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senkim@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senkokubun@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senmenor@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sennishihara@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sensakamoto@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senslom@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sentaniguchi@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sentokuda@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sentrimble@Capitol.hawaii.gov, sentsutsui@Capitol.hawaii.gov, senwhalen@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Again, we are NOT giving up. With your help, we are all our telling our elected representatives that Hawaii’s traditional farmers and those who support them KNOW their humble, grassroots efforts have been stolen and co-opted in favor of biotech corporations. We can do better!

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