I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately, and I’m pretty sure that you have been too. The pandemic has shown us how quickly everything can change and reminded us of the risks of having all of our eggs in one basket.
I’ve been watching prices rise at my local supermarket. I’ve been witnessing climate changes and disruptions in global supply chains. I’ve been thinking about the fact that 90% of Hawaii’s food comes from outside of the islands and wondering how much longer that system will survive.
I’ve been concerned about those who have lost jobs and need help putting food on the table. We are fortunate that Hawaii has a deep tradition of sharing food, and backyard abundance plays a big role in that. Over the past six months, a growing number of people on every island have created home food gardens and planted food trees, many for the first time.
I live on a small farm homestead at Kawanui in mauka Kona that is just over one acre. I farm every day and a good portion of what I eat at any given meal I have grown myself. My family and I have lived on this farm for 20 years. I know firsthand food’s connection to soil and water, place and ecosystem, health and wellness, economy and education, and climate.
I see food as the great connector: to our earth, ohana, community, culture and each other. Food gives us our daily sustenance and a deep sense of belonging. As University of Hawaii West Oahu Professor Albie Miles recently wrote, if we get food right, we get everything right.
The great poet and farmer Wendell Berry urged us to start from the perspective that eating is an agricultural act.
We all know that the challenges to our local food and agricultural economies are significant, and now the pandemic is bringing those challenges into heightened focus.
People who want to grow food in Hawaii must confront high land prices, compete with development pressures and deal with water and labor costs. They must contend with invasive species and new crop diseases, with educational and legislative foot-dragging, with export and import uncertainties, with funding cuts and cheap food policies.
These are the issues we need to confront if we are to once again seriously produce food in these islands. These are the issues we need to confront if we are to truly transform.
The Lesson of Los Angeles
I know a story about the creative transformation of food and agriculture. It began 120 years ago in Los Angeles, California, and it forever changed the way that I look at food.
I was born in 1946 into one of 10,000 small farm families in the County of Los Angeles. You probably don’t think of LA as an agricultural area, but from 1910 to 1960 it was the top producing agricultural county in the entire United States.
The founders of Los Angeles sought to turn the county into an area where agriculture was thriving, and they transformed the landscape from large ranches into small farms.
Before the Spanish colonized the area in the 1700s, LA was a vast fertile plain with flowing rivers, wild edible plants, wildflowers, trees and many types of animals. The 40 tribes of native peoples who lived there were not farmers, but hunters and fisherman who gathered wild foods.
By 1900, that lush landscape had been transformed. Most of the land, formerly in haciendas, was now owned by large landowners, cattle ranchers and land speculators. The main “crop” was cattle, not for meat but for hides to ship to the East to make shoes, belts and bags.
By 1900 that system was no longer working. Landowners were struggling to keep their lands in productive use. Local indigenous workers were reluctant to participate in the system. The ecosystem was exhausted by sheep and cattle and severe drought. Many who had tried farming were inexperienced and their projects had failed.
The founders of Los Angeles and the businessmen of the LA Chamber of Commerce came up with a new idea. They knew there were vast opportunities for these lands. The LA ecosystem had so many assets. The problem was that the wrong ideas were driving land use.
The new idea was to persuade large landowners to break up their vast holdings into smaller parcels of land and sell them to more experienced farming families from across the United States. These smaller holdings would be called Small Farm Homesteads.
In the first decades of the 20th century, thousands of small farmers moved onto homesteads and transformed Los Angeles County into the most productive agricultural county in the United States.
First, LA’s leaders created a nationwide campaign to show people across the United States the incredible diversity of food crops and products that could be grown in LA County. They placed an array of California products and crops on their own train car and traveled coast to coast, stopping at every small town. They attended World’s Fairs. The vision was first to build a food system based around the small family farm that would feed the city and eventually position Los Angeles as the West Coast food hub.
They were very successful.
Beginning around 1910, the land was subdivided into 10,000 half- to 3-acre affordable parcels. Deep fertile soil, a year-round growing climate, ample water resources and a growing market attracted farmers and families from around the country who were looking for new opportunities.
My entire family came west from Iowa during the Great Depression in 1932, purchased one acre in the San Gabriel valley and started a small farm. By the time I was born, truck farms, orchards, dairies, egg and chicken farms and cattle ranches were integrated into the landscape.
In 1946, the small farms of LA provided over 50% of the food for the growing city. There were 300 small dairies, 16,000 acres in vegetable production, thousands of acres of fruit and nut orchards, hundreds of egg and poultry farms, and 3,500 larger farms and cattle ranches.
By 1970, suburban development was replacing many of these small farms. Although there are few signs of this agrarian history in LA today, the economic vitality of the area still has its roots in the small farm homestead. The leaders of Los Angeles were applauded for their insight that 10,000 small farms would be better for the economy, the land and the people than ten large 1,000-acre plantations.
The first great lesson I learned was: Who owns the land, and how it is used, matters. Very much.
The glamour of Los Angeles wasn’t just for the movies — it extended to the farmers’ markets.
The Lessons of Hawaii’s Past
So I began to wonder, what was agriculture like in Hawaii in 1946, the year I was born?
At that time there were fewer than 500,000 people living in the islands and the annual visitor count was under 50,000. According to the statewide Ag Census of that year, there were then 3,922 diverse farms in Hawaii: 83 small dairies, 525 small hog farms, 748 egg and poultry farms, 228 cattle ranches, 1,568 fruit/vegetable/nut farms, 727 coffee and rice farms, 45 apiaries and two sheep farms.
In post-war 1946 there were also plenty of backyard victory gardens dotted with fruit trees and there was much fishing, hunting and gathering of wild foods. There were also, of course, thousands of acres of pineapple and sugar growing on plantations, mainly for export.
There was clearly greater diversity in local food production, driven by small family operations. That era seems to have lasted into the 1960s. Today in Hawaii, egg, poultry, hog and dairy commercial farms are mostly gone.
What happens when we go back further, to 1846? Then the makaainana, the people, were allotted plots on which to grow food. They planted and nurtured taro, sweet potato, ulu and other crops, raised pigs and chickens, and had the right to fish in the sea and in some protected fishponds. They worked six days a month for the chief, fought in wars and paid taxes with goods produced.
Masterful at engineering water and land for maximum productivity, Hawaiians developed some of the most sophisticated agricultural systems in the world. Taro, and the poi created from it, was at the heart of the Hawaiian diet.
Although that system of agriculture was still feeding the people, by 1846 a new era was beginning. Farms were also producing foods for export to the West Coast (potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar and coffee) or provisioning whaling ships in port with local produce, meat and fruits. Sugar plantations had begun to arise a decade earlier.
The Great Mahele, the Kuleana Act, the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the enforcement of the Republic, then of the Territory and then of statehood all had profound repercussions for land and food in the islands. The formal ownership of Hawaii’s 4 million acres became concentrated in the hands of the few and it remains so.
The government (federal, state, and county) is now the largest landowner in Hawaii followed by 40 large estates of 5,000 acres or more. We are basically in the same place that Los Angeles was in 1900, surrounded by large landowners. And just as then, land use — at least some of it — is being driven by wrong ideas.
I think constantly about how we can actually put more of Hawaii’s lands back into the hands of the next generation of farmers in a meaningful and supportive way.
At the community level, many encouraging and innovative new ideas are emerging for rethinking, reforming and reenergizing agriculture and community food systems. There seems to be an underlying consensus that history is now presenting us with a unique opportunity.
Land availability greatly affects opportunities and outcomes for new and beginning farmers who want to own, farm and live on the same piece of land. When farmers live on their land, they also invest in the quality of the soil and farm infrastructure.
I know so many people in Hawaii who have invested everything in a farm on leased land and then lost their lease because the landowner simply changed their mind.
Hawaii’s largest farmer, Larry Jefts, suffered this fate earlier this year when he had to pull up 200 acres of tomatoes and bell peppers on land he leases in Kunia to make way for a planned solar farm. While renewable energy is a laudable and vital goal, state policies should support the development of renewable energy alongside serious farming endeavors, not in opposition to them. If this can happen to Larry, it can happen to anyone.
My own story offers one example of struggle: After growing up in a farming family and moving to Hawaii in 1978 seeking to farm, it took me 23 years to find a piece of land that I could afford. It didn’t happen until I was 50.
And even then it took a confluence of lucky breaks: The one acre of land I now own and farm came up for sale during the real estate downturn in 1998. It was in foreclosure. They were asking more than I could afford so I made a lower offer and they accepted. My family, not a bank, loaned me the down payment.
Today the land I farm is flourishing and produces thousands of pounds of food a year.
This corner of the kitchen garden on Nancy Redfeather’s farm in Kawainui features (visible in the photo) carrots, shelling peas, lettuces, collards and tomatoes that were bred by renowned UH plant researcher Dr. James Gilbert.
I am concerned for the next generation. Land prices that were already prohibitive have only risen over the past two decades.
And what all of this means is that the food security we now so desperately need is not being supported in ways that actually work.
Why Now At Last?
Hawaii, like Los Angeles in 1900, has so many ecosystem assets: a year-round growing season, no frost, ample water, rapid nutrient recycling for soil building, clear air and clean water, 10 of the world’s 14 climatic zones, basalt soils full of minerals, and of course knowledge of the great Hawaiian field systems and loi.
We will need all of those assets to deal with the climate changes that are already beginning and to keep food in our bellies. We are currently talking about diversifying our economy so why don’t we put food and agriculture right at the top of the list?
Share Your Ideas
To submit an essay or if you just want to talk over an idea, contact:
At the community level, many encouraging and innovative new ideas are emerging for rethinking, reforming and reenergizing agriculture and community food systems. There seems to be an underlying consensus that history is now presenting us with a unique opportunity.
If we are ever going to increase our food supply and create greater food access, justice and security for this small island nation, we will need everyone — big farms, medium and small farms, backyards — to support each other. We will need policies that support all producers and secure places for our farmers to both live and work. Lively and diverse conversations can help us develop shared common goals that can be used to create change in policy and practice but only if we are willing.
We do not need to follow Los Angeles’ story all the way to the present and urbanize. We can stop at a flourishing world of farming. And we do not need to travel outside of the islands to find farmers. We need to support Hawaii’s own people.
In the end, it comes down to this: Food is the basis of life and health, and when there isn’t enough food, people suffer and die. Farmers need land and each of us has a role to play in ensuring they can find it, live on it and develop its resources in support of all of our futures. It is the kuleana of us all to pick up the work and imagine a new way to live.
Before you go…
During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to dig beyond the news, to figure out what government policies mean for ordinary citizens and how those policies were put together.
This is perhaps the biggest, most consequential story our reporters will ever cover. And at no other time in Civil Beat’s history have we relied on your support more. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.Contribute
Nancy Redfeather, who grew up on a farm in Los Angeles, now lives and grows food and seed for her family on their small farm in Kona. She has been an educator in Hawaii’s public and private schools for the past 40 years and at The Kohala Center helped revive school garden programs and establish the Hawaii Farm to School Hui.
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“Did you know that poor diets kill millions worldwide? Diets lacking whole grains and fruit and high in processed meats, trans fats and sugary drinks may be responsible for one-fifths of all deaths. That makes poor diet the biggest risk factor in the world.”
This conclusion is from a Global Burden of Disease study tracking dietary factors from 1990-2017 in 195 countries, conducted by researchers at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, published in The Lancet. Seen in BottomLine Personal, July 15, 2019. p. 13.
On the way home from the beach this afternoon, I saw kiawe beans spilling out onto a sidewalk. Grabbing a bag from my car, my friend Jeany and I scooped up the plumpest, freshest ones. This is a harvest that picks itself by dropping to the ground when ripe. It’s an unloved plant (mainly because people don’t realize how wonderful it is — and it has big, sharp thorns). It was introduced in Hawaii in 1826 by a French priest. On his way to Hawaii, he had traveled through Peru, where he saw the indigenous women using the pods to make flour; “mesquite,” they called it. My son, John, and I learned about kiawe in a workshop a couple of years ago given by Vince Dodge and Sunny Savage.
Recently, Sunny sent an e-mail reminding us about the wonderful yellow bean:
Jumping up and down over here! Yup, me along with all of those in the know. Have you had a kiawe craving? On a magical night in Wailea, 5 days ago to be exact, while preparing wild salad for 70 in an epic outdoor farm to table experience, I found my first ripe kiawe (Prosopis pallida) of 2019. Did I mention jumping up and down! Allelujah! Since this blessing happened I have driven around half of Maui scouting kiawe beans. Lanai tomorrow and Molokai next week. There is food going to waste on the ground out there. It is time to activate on this harvest NOW. Why?
Hot dry sunny days make for great kiawe beans. Although the trees will continue to produce beans, if we have heavy moisture from tropical storms or hurricanes, the beans become moldy. This is the time to store this amazing food, before the hurricanes come! Free food, stored just in time for hurricane season. Get them now!
Want to learn more? Kiawe is the perfect food for a community cooperative…let’s get organizing. We need kiawe dryers in Lahaina and Kihei. And remember, Hawaiian harvesting rights are protected under law, so respect the host culture. We have a window of beautiful weather right now, let’s activate and bring in this blessing of sweet abundance.
Get involved —>>> contact firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Hi, I read about the $289 million court case and the glyphosate Roundup, what are the best ways to kill weeds without weed killer? Seems you just can’t stop the weeds in the tropics, just in the home garden and around the paths. Please help.
Thank you in advance. Lucas, UBUD.’
In August, a US Court ordered global chemical giant Monsanto pay $US 289 million to a former school gardener who is dying of cancer, after a jury in California found Roundup (which contains glyphosate) contributed to his illness. They will be appealing of course.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the IARC, stated that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic, yet just last year the European Union decided to renew the licence for the official use of glyphosate. In the aftermath of the US court case, Monsanto has maintained that its product was an “effective and safe tool for farmers and others”. Hmmm?
The result of the recent court case and linkages to glyphosate came as no surprise to many.
Unfortunately, many are still in the dark to the undeniable dangers. Scientific evidence has shown that glyphosate can cause or accelerate cancer rates. People are spraying it around the environment and it is all over your food. Despite the fact that the dangers of Roundup are gradually becoming well-known, uncovered and exposed by various segments of the community – it still remains in heavy use around the world.
Many are still unaware of the serious health issues attributed to glyphosate, although it has been banned in many places around the world.
Roundup in conjunction with science has given rise to a global industry of genetically modified food. GM food crops like corn and soybean have been designed with glyphosate resistance in mind. Fields are sprayed, weeds controlled and at the same time the crop is left standing. It simplifies farming and weed control in exchange for food covered with Roundup. People are also wholesale spraying it around the garden, and local governments around their parklands and public green spaces too.
Interestingly, after sitting on the data from its glyphosate tests for more than a year, the FDA recently or rather finally made the results public. Tests found glyphosate on 63 percent of corn samples and 67 percent of soybean samples. As a further note of interest there were no oat or wheat samples, the two main crops where glyphosate is used as a pre-harvest drying agent, resulting in glyphosate contamination of foods.
The reported health risks associated with glyphosate exposure has farmers, groundskeepers and gardeners scrambling to find alternatives. Glyphosate is so widely used that traces of the of it have been found in breast milk, beer, wine (even when made with organic grapes), eggs, oatmeal and non-dairy coffee creamer, among other products.
There are also environmental impacts on groundwater, rivers, streams, and oceans, glyphosate has even been detected in rainfall samples. Then there’s the issue of poisons in the food chain.
For the home gardener the best alternatives are to pull the weeds, or if it’s a larger area dig out the entire garden bed, turn the soil and start again. If you spray Roundup everywhere you’ll still have to pull the dead weeds out in the end anyway. Mulch garden beds regularly or grow creeping groundcovers. Mulch with cardboard, newspaper, leaves, straw, wood chips, pebbles, stones etc. Use a sharp hoe, garden fork, or shovel to hand weed, or go for the more permanent solution of installing a weed suppressant membrane.
Manual removal with a shovel, hoe or other tool is an effective spot treatment for most weeds. They may come back and need to be dug out again. When young weeds are caught early and thoroughly dug out, they won’t be able to re-seed and rapidly reproduce.
Experiment with dense ground covers which can naturally prevent weeds from growing underneath. Get creative and use dense low growing flowers or even herbs as ground cover. Culinary herbs such as parsley, mint, thyme or oregano are useful choices which can effectively form a carpet around the base of plants in sparse garden beds. If you’re battling weeds in your lawn, make sure you use grass varieties appropriate for shade, drought or other difficult areas where a conventional lawn might not grow well.
For weeds growing in pavement and cracks, boiling water poured straight from the kettle usually does the job. For any other general weed killing areas using commercial strength vinegar is a proven effective. Commercial grade would normally come with an acetic acid concentration of 20% strength. Normal household vinegar at 5-10% will usually do the job on smaller weeds, but for an effective job on larger hardier ones you’ll need a commercial grade vinegar at around 20% min.
The vinegar will probably be more effective on a hot sunny day. It biodegrades easily, effectively a non-toxic approach to spot killing weeds in opposition to commercial, synthetic and chemical formulas. Vinegar still always needs to be handled with care, so avoid inhaling it or getting it in your eyes. Don’t stand on the wrong side of the wind!
In addition to avoiding toxic sprays, by growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs you will be feeding yourself with the healthiest produce possible free of potential toxins. Buying organic or growing your own is always going to be the best choice when it comes to your food and avoiding toxic chemicals.
Key findings of an Investigative Report into pesticides and produce from EWG (source: www.ewg.org) found that:
The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides a piece.
It was reported in August 2018 that tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate residues on many popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars. Almost three-fourths of the 45 samples tested had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health within an adequate margin of safety.
All you need to know is that glyphosate has been linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization.
I want to use natural fertiliser [sic] but don’t have the patience for a compost, do you have any ideas for other easy ways to give my plants a natural kick with organic fertiliser. I’ve heard that banana peels can be used in the garden from vegetable gardens to flowers, palm trees and even thrown in the tops of staghorn ferns. Do you have any other easy ideas for natural fertilisers that can be made from ordinary household scraps that would otherwise end up in the rubbish bin?
Rafa from Ubud’
Adding any sort of organic matter to the soil to will improve the nutritional content and vitality of the soil whilst also inviting worms and all sorts of other beneficial micro-organisms to move in. A living soil that is teeming with life will always show the results by producing a lush green garden. The easiest place to start is to re-use waste that you find within the garden.
All of the leaves that fall, the pruned offcuts, and the flowers that you deadhead contain vital nutrients that have been drawn up from deep within the soil. That’s why composting is so beneficial, it’s all about recycling the nutrients back into the soil. If you don’t have the patience for composting, then do it nature’s way and cycle the nutrients directly back into the soil.
Leaves and Garden Waste
Raking up old leaves and spreading them around the garden as a layer of mulch is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get started. Leaf mould or decaying leaf material is so simple, yet extremely beneficial. It’s one of the most readily available amendments you can add directly into your soil to improve it.
The benefits are twofold, not only will the soil benefit from the slow release of nutrients, it also retains moisture within the soil or can prevent moisture loss from evaporation if layered on as a mulch. Alternatively, you can dig it into the soil, where it will aerate the soil and improve drainage in combination with the action of worms, insects and microbes working to break it down.
When tidying up the garden recycle the garden off-cuts, making sure that they’re pest and disease free. Old dry palm fronds can be cut up and reincorporated into the soil. If your off-cuts are green, leave them in a pile out in the sun for a few days so that they dry up, turn brown and then can easily be shredded and reincorporated into the soil. Dead or dried up flowers can be pruned and scattered around the garden beds. Dried grass clippings are also one of the best nitrogen boosts you can give to your garden. Collect all garden waste, and cycle it back into the garden, it is full of the nutrients that have been sucked up from deep within the soil.
They are great for the compost, but can also be incorporated directly back into the soil, decomposing rapidly and releasing nutrients for your plants. Fruit peels such as banana peels, mango, papaya and avocado skins will decompose quickly when lightly dug into the soil, alternatively simply just throw them around the base of your plants and cover with a layer of soil and leaves. Peels will provide potassium, phosphorous and calcium as well as many other trace minerals which will promote root and flower development and overall plant health. If you are concerned about attracting pests or animals, dry the peels in the sun before adding them into the garden or liquefy the peels in a blender with water before pouring it on to your garden.
Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves
Coffee grounds and tea leaves are a source of nitrogen for the garden. You can either scatter coffee grounds around the base of your plants or fork them into the soil. With the teabags I normally collect a few then tear the paper and throw them in a bucket with water and pour the onto the soil. Coffee grounds and used tea leaves will give nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. The same goes for herbal teas, the green tea, rosehips or whatever sort that you drink can be poured out onto the garden or around your pot plants.
They consist of over 90% calcium carbonate and contain small amounts of other trace elements that make them a beneficial fertiliser. Collect them, wash and crush them, and then sprinkle them around the garden. They will add a hit of calcium and other minerals to the soil. Spread them around pot plants, your vegetable garden and outdoor trees. If you are growing an edible garden crushed egg shells sprinkled around plants will discourage snails and slugs, as they won’t crawl across the sharp jagged shell grit. Not only are you providing a natural fertiliser but also protecting your plants from slimy pests as well.
If you like boiled eggs, save the water until it cools and pour it on the garden as it will contain calcium and other minerals. Eggshells can also be used as seedling planters. With a pin make a few drainage holes in the bottom of an empty eggshell, add soil and then put them back into the old egg carton. Sow the seeds and care for them as you would any other seedlings. When they are ready to transplant into the garden, squeeze the shell gently to crack it and then place it in the ground. The roots will push through the cracks in the shell which will eventually decompose naturally, the best bit is… no transplant shock!
Start seedlings in egg shells
Starchy Rice Water and Other Sugars
When you wash your rice, instead of wasting the starchy water by pouring it down the sink, water it around your plants and flowers. Just make sure to pour it directly onto the soil and avoid getting it all over leaves and flowers. The starches will promote beneficial soil bacteria, whilst also adding nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other trace elements to the soil. Empty or near empty drink containers can also be used to water to the garden. If I go to the fridge and find the last remains of a milk or fruit juice container I fill it up with water to dilute the contents and then pour it straight onto the garden. Milk diluted with water is a well known fertiliser for the garden. The same goes for any drinks that have passed their use-by.
Simply dilute old containers with water and pour the contents around the garden. Even old bottles of soda can be rinsed and poured onto the garden, the microbes and plants will love the sugar hit. The added benefit is that you will have clean rinsed containers, instead of smelly sticky ones filling up the rubbish bin.
On a final note, the napkins, paper towels etc used at meal time are also thrown into the compost along with the old newspapers – the worms absolutely love that stuff. Who would’ve thought that trash could be so useful in the garden!
“If you are sitting here reading this,” says the literature at Soma Café in Ubud, Bali, “you are amongst the most fortunate people in the world.”
But wherever you are, “Reminding ourselves daily of all the things that we are grateful for, large and small is a beautiful way to live. The more grateful we are, the more blessings we are open to receiving.
As Dr. Masuru Emoto has scientifically proven through his book Messages in Water, water (and food containing water) carries the energy that is put into it.
Ice crystals from the various energies – from Dr. Emoto’s book.
Similarly, you can feel the positive energies of some people while others emit negative feelings. Even if you doubt Dr. Emoto’s findings, personal gratitude opens you to see more blessings.
Grain in Ubud rice field – the rice farmer adds to our vitality.
The Soma Café says, “We invite you to try blessing your food, giving thanks to mother earth, all the people that were a part of growing and preparing it, asking that your body receives the ultimate nourishment and that the food fuels you to live your purpose and walk in peace. Try eating slowly & mindfully, chewing completely & taking a moment to breathe between bites. . .” Enjoy – and be grateful.
Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk
Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old! So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.
In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:
Ryan Burden, a young man from Hā’iku, Maui, on a mission to get more people to eat coconuts, niu in Hawaiian.
How to make homemade Coconut Milk:
One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
You will need coconut meat
Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.
Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.
INGREDIENTS STEP 2
Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.
Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.
Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.
Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.
Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.
After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.
Recipe from Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties (Roost Books).
Every spring, Ashley English, author and homesteader, uses asparagus fresh from her garden in Chandler, North Carolina. She says, “When I notice that those first, tender, thin green spears have poked their sleepy heads from the soil, that’s my cue that spring has arrived.” Here’s her favorite asparagus recipe.
Yield: 4-6 servings
2 pounds large asparagus
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons feta, crumbled (Look below for a vegan “feta” that is tasty – and 100% dairy free)
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup feta, crumbled
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Several grinds of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the asparagus, and cut about an inch off the stem ends. Pat to dry. Place the asparagus on a dry baking sheet, and cook it for three minutes to dry off any excess moisture. Remove the sheet from the oven and toss the asparagus on the sheet with the olive oil.
Crush the pistachios in a food processor (or under a towel with a kitchen mallet or hammer) for about 1 minute, until finely ground. Transfer the ground nuts to a small mixing bowl. Using a spoon or clean hands, mix the nuts with the salt. Lay the asparagus out evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with half of the ground pistachio and salt blend. Turn the spears over, then evenly sprinkle them with rest of the ground pistachios.
Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, and carefully plate the spears onto a platter using tongs. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a lidded container or a food processor. Shake or blend until smooth. Drizzle the plated asparagus with the vinaigrette. Top with the chopped parsley and feta. Serve at room temperature.
“All systems of oppression need to be challenged,” said a speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud, Bali last month. Doing just that since 1977, Sea Shepherd, a non-governmental, non-profit environmental organization, has been using direct action tactics [along with lots of media attention] to protect marine life [and to educate consumers].
Sea Shepherd seeking poachers
If you want to volunteer on a Sea Shepherd crew, you will be asked that question, “Are you willing to die for a whale?” The boats carry no guns but use film and public education to achieve incredible change. Their important work continues.
Sea Shepherd claims responsibility for damaging or sinking multiple whaling ships, through sabotage or ramming. The group has attempted to intervene against Russian, Spanish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Makah, Faroese, and Japanese whalers in multiple campaigns around the globe. Those actions have included scuttling and disabling commercial whaling vessels at harbor, using limpet mines (a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets) to blow holes in ship hulls, ramming other vessels, throwing glass bottles of butyric acid (stinky rancid butter) on the decks of vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizing and destroying drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson has said that the organization has destroyed millions of dollars worth of equipment. The Sea Shepherd media extravaganzas have highlighted whaling, long-line fishing nets, and shark fining to get people everywhere informed and conscious of the destruction of life in our oceans.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – over fished, few regulatory guidelines
Some shark populations have decreased by 60-70% due to shark fisheries.
Gary Stokes, Asia Director for Sea Shepherd, has spent the past 10 years on documenting, investigating, and exposing the shark fin trade. He was a guest speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud last month. Indonesia is the #1 exporter of shark fins; Spain #2.
Shark fin Image from <ocean-news/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey>
There is much economic pressure to ignore the international bans on shark finning.
Fishermen often choose to keep just the shark fins—only one to five percent of a shark’s weight—and throw the rest of the shark away rather than have the less valuable parts take up space on the boat. The finned sharks are often thrown back alive into the ocean, where unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss. Shark meat sold to restaurants and markets is often used in seafood curries and stews.
Shark fin soup – a sign of status at $100 U.S. a bowl.
Gary says that now 60% of the fish and seafood in our oceans are in terrible condition. Global fishing fleets are now at 2.5 times the sustainable level. Just one poaching boat, the “Lafayette” which works the waters off Chili and Peru around the Faroe Islands processes 1,500 tons of fish a day!! Much of that is Chilean tooth fish; in restaurants, it’s called “Chilean Sea Bass.” 😦 Much of caught sea food goes to animal feed.
“Chilean sea bass”/ tooth fish
A result of Sea Shepherd and other activists groups like Greenpeace and loud voices, many people now know to make conscious choices.
According to a National Geographic article, we now know to “look for the blue eco-label of the Marine Stewardship Council, or ask where in the world the fish comes from. . .[to] help you find the best and avoid the rest”
Stokes reports that forty percent of the tuna that comes into the U.S. is from illegal, unreported fisheries in Thailand. And forty percent of all fish caught is used for animal feed. 😦 If the world continues to consume and destroy marine life at the current rates, Stokes says that by 1948 there will be no fish!
The Sea Shepherd Fleet now has nine ships including the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker, and the Brigette Bardot.
Shark products. Ask where, how, and by whom the fish were caught.
Sea Shepherd goes after ships that fish illegally
Recently, Sea Shepherd Asia had a hiatus, a year off, when Japan temporarily halted whale hunting. Gary and his team got to go after other notorious pirate fishing vessels. For 110 days, a Sea Shepherd ship chased the “Thunder” – #1 on the Interpol list of pirate fishing vessels. Finally, the captain of the “Thunder” sunk his own ship rather than be caught with the incriminating evidence of illegal fishing!! But while part of the Sea Shepherd crew was saving the “Thunder” crew, other Sea Shepherd volunteers entered the sinking ship in time to collect computers and other evidence that has the captain and crew serving time in a Nigerian jail. [It would seem the owners of the pirate ships should be in jail too]. The photo above shows what has happened to other illegal fishing boats that Sea Shepherd has targeted.
Gary says of the ocean marine life, “We are losing everything.” We must all learn and act.
So why was Gary invited to speak at the Vegan Fest? The people who volunteer for the Sea Shepherd crews are ardent animal activists. Many are vegans. Since 2002, all Sea Shepherd vessels serve only vegan meals. It would be hypocritical, says Gary, to eat meat while chasing people who are killing marine life. Gary has been a vegetarian since 1980. When he first started going out on Sea Shepherd missions, Gary was more worried about what he would get to eat than about the possible confrontations the crew would meet. But, he has learned that the vegan meals are delicious, healthy, and accommodate everyone on board, and all religions.
Vegan meals on the Sea Shepherd
The Sea Shepherd logo – a pirate to protect marine life:
“If the oceans die, we die! We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean,” said Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson
Watch the following documentaries; you will likely cry, cheer, and laugh.
Paul Watson: The Whale Warrior: A Pirate for the Sea
"Shanghai Street Stories" by Sue Anne Tay
Originally from Singapore, Sue Anne Tay has lived in the U.S., England, and now China. She is a talented street photographer who gets the stories behind her photos. You are likely to love her posts.
Check out the terrific programs for sustainable living. Go experience living on a kibbutz for a week or more.
Pick Up Americad bl
This is an old blog, but it is an example of what one person can do with a good idea. On the road for 24 months, Davey Rogner and friends have walked across the U.S. picking up litter and making people more conscious.
She and her husband Danny taught at ZAFU last year and are now at Xiamen University. Ruth records their experiences.
Where was Johnny and how is Captain Rob doing?
Check out Captain Rob’s sail blog. He and Johnny were in the Solomon Islands (famous for JFK’s PT boat & previously cannibalism; now the islands are known for their beautiful coral reefs and great surfing)