Commentary: “Safe and Accurate” Food Bill Isn’t What it Seems

Editor’s Note:  Rep. Mark Takai has sent this letter out to constituents on his e-mail list.  We pass it on to you.  –AM

Aloha Friend,

This week, the House will consider H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  Under the guise of consumer protection, this bill would do nothing more than limit the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products.  While it includes vague language regarding voluntary labeling, it would also nullify current state laws that regulate GMO foods.  I simply cannot support this bill. 

The people of our nation deserve to have consumer clarity, and be able to make their own decisions on the type of food they buy.   In order to meet this goal, I have joined with Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to cosponsor legislation that will return transparency to the food labeling process.  Along with many of my democratic colleagues, I support H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  This legislation would enhance GMO labeling by creating a national standard to label food products developed by the FDA.

To date, our nation does not have a uniform system in place that allows consumers to make educated decisions. For nearly 15 years, we have had voluntary labeling; however, standards often differ and lead to variances in the definition of natural and GMO products. Clearly, this process must be improved. 

 Enacting legislation like H.R. 913 would harmonize U.S. policy with the 64 other countries that require the labeling of GMO foods, including countries possessing some of our largest agricultural markets.  This would make it easier for producers, processors, and packagers to comply with labeling requirements, and in turn help export our products around the world.

 If you have any questions regarding my stance on GMOs please feel free to contact my office  here .


Mark Takai

Natural Farming Meeting Looks at Farming Through the Microscope

The Natural Farming Hawai’i June potluck meeting will be about looking through the microscope to understand the benefits of natural farming down to their smallest detail.

Soil isn’t just a dead medium in which crops grow; it’s a matrix of living things, some beneficial, some harmful.  In healthy soil, microorganisms interact in complimentary ways, but pesticides herbicides fertilizers can disrupt that balance.  The presentation at the meeting will cover how to use the microscope, how to identify bacteria, fungus, and nematodes, and what all this means for soil health.

The potluck meeting takes place on the second Tuesday of each month–in this case, June 9, June 9th, 2015, at  6-8 p.m at the Komohana Ag Research Center in Hilo, Hawai’i.


Letter: Oppose William Balfour’s Renomination to the Commission on Water Resource Management

Aloha, everyone. William Balfour’s response to questions by the Senate Water and Land Committee today at his confirmation hearing was disappointing to put it mildly. It is very hard for me to believe the Governor nominated Mr. Balfour to serve yet another term on the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). Mr. Balfour did not know about the hierarchy of water uses or constitutionally protected rights and uses under the State Water Code, nor was he concerned that he did not know about this most important tenet of the code.

Five major decisions by CWRM have been reversed by the courts in the last decade or so. Most if not all of them involved stream diversions, Native Hawaiian water rights, and superior uses. As a past water commissioner, Mr. Balfour voted on two important decisions that were reversed by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in the Na Wai ‘Eha and East Maui stream cases.

The Committee is meeting again this Friday, April 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm in Room 225 to give Mr. Balfour another opportunity to address the code’s hierarchy of water uses and rights under the code. Even if he does his homework in the next two days, his past record as a water commissioner speaks louder than any recitation of the State Water Code.

Please call and email members of the Senate Committee on Water and Land before Friday noon. Respectfully ask them to oppose GM 820 and the nomination of William Balfour, Jr. to serve on the Commission on Water Resource Management. Be sure to contact your own state senator too (see contact information for the committee and all senators below). Please share with others and broadcast far and wide. Mahalo!

We must not give up opposing this ill-advised nomination.

Our state senators are the only ones with the power to decide whether Mr. Balfour serves on the CWRM for another 4 years or if the people deserve someone who is committed to upholding the State Water Code and the state constitution, and righting the wrongs of the past.

Mr. Balfour already had his turn on CWRM. If he is confirmed for another 4 years, he will be voting on matters as they come back to CWRM as ordered by the courts. It is inappropriate for him to serve on CWRM again.

This is a new time, and the paradigm is shifting towards a more just and sustainable water management regime in the islands.

Mr. Balfour represents the old way of exploiting water at the expense of native stream ecosystems, estuaries, and fisheries, and on the backs of Native Hawaiian practitioners and kalo farmers.

The old way perpetuates illegal stream diversions that were so cruel and complete, they are beyond belief, and which continue to this day. The old way is not the way forward.

Mr. Balfour is also a climate change denier, and will hinder efforts by CWRM to mitigate impacts to our water resources.

Senate Committee on Water and Land Members:

Chair Laura Thielen
Phone 808-587-8388
Fax 808-587-7240
District 25 Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock

Vice Chair Brickwood Galuteria
Phone 808-586-6740
Fax 808-586-6829
District 12 Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mo‘ili‘ili

Les Ihara, Jr.
Phone 808-586-6250
Fax 808-586-6251
District 10 Kaimuki, Kapahulu, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, St. Louis Heights, Mo‘ili‘ili, Ala Wai

Gil Riviere
Phone 808-586-7330
Fax 808-586-7334
District 23 Kane‘ohe , Ka‘a‘awa, Hau‘ula, La‘ie, Kahuku, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Wahiawa, Schofield Barracks, Kunia

Russell Ruderman
Phone 808-586-6890
Fax 808-586-6899
District 2 Puna, Ka‘u

Maile Shimabukuro
Phone 808-586-7793
Fax 808-586-7797
District 21 Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko ‘Olina, Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Wai‘anae, Makaha, Makua

Sam Slom
Phone 808-586-8420
Fax 808-586-8426
District 9 Hawai‘i Kai, Kuli‘ou‘ou, Niu, ‘Aina Haina, Wai‘alae-Kahala, Diamond Head

–Marjorie Ziegler

Grant Will Provide EBT Machines for Farmers’ Markets

Thanks to a fund grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS) will  provide a number of  farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with free electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

According to a DHS  press release, “The program is available only to SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers that were authorized before November 18, 2011. If the applying farmers and farmers markets receive approval, the FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three (3) years. Though transaction fees will not be covered, the selected farmers and farmers markets can choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies.  The Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program is a first-come first-serve opportunity, and the program ends when the funds have been distributed.

But other farmers’ markets may be eligible for SNAP EBT equipment through another program called  MarketLink. For details, see

Big Island markets accepting EBT cards include the Hawi Farmers’ Market in Hawi, the Kino`ole Farmers’ Market and Hilo Farmers’ Market in Hilo,  The Keauhou Farmer’s Market in Kailua-Kona,  the Hilo Coffeee Mill Farmer’s Market in Mountain View, the Maku`u Farmers’ Market near Pahoa,   and the Volcano Farmers’ Market in Volcano.


Ige Nominates Monsanto Grower to State House Seat, Young Bros. Head to Ag Post

Governor David Ige, already under fire for choosing Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources,  has made two more controversial appointments. The day after State Representative Mele Carroll (East Maui, Molokai, Lanai) passed away from cancer, Ige has nominated Maui rancher and farmer Lynn DeCoite to take her place. DeCoite owns L&R Farm Enterprises and R.J.’s Snacks and co-owns the V-8 Ranch on Molokai; she’s served as chair of the Farm Service Agency (Maui County) and president of the Molokai Homestead Farmer’s Alliance, and is a former board member of the Molokai Planning Commission.

“I’m confident Ms. DeCoite knows the issues facing the district and will listen to her constituents to address their concerns…She has deep roots in the community and is committed to overcoming the challenges by forming partnerships and working collaboratively,” Ige said in his press release about the nomination.

Carroll had resigned her House seat on February 1 due to her worsening medical condition.  DeCoite was one of three names suggested to the governor by a Democratic Party committee to fill the vacant seat.

But the nomination has already drawn fire from the anti-GMO organization Babes Against Biotech.

“We have been aware for some time that L&R Farms, owned by Mrs. Decoite, is under contract with Monsanto to grow seed corn. Lynn herself confirmed this to our Maui Chapter Coordinator over an extensive phone conversation in March of last year; it is not something she is ashamed to admit,” pointed out a statement from Babes Against Biotech, which called her nomination “another political powder keg. This nomination would create an even larger firestorm of public criticism and discontent, than his highly contentious nomination of Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources.”

Also yesterday, the Molokai News reported that Ige had nominated Glenn Hong, president of Hawaiian Tug & Barge Corp. and Young Brothers Ltd., to the state’s Board of Agriculture.  A fair percentage of the cargo that Hong’s companies haul consists of meat, eggs and produce imported from California, Chile and elsewhere.

Puna News: Donations Sought for Thanksgiving Dinner Effort

Aloha Lehua Café and Hui Aloha `O Puna Makai are seeking donations of food, cash and paper goods for their ongoing efforts to feed those in need in Puna. The café and the nonprofit are partnering to supply Thanksgiving dinners to the Puna community on November 26th. They’ve gotten 13 turkeys so far, and will be serving at the café from 4:30 until the food runs out, according to Luana Jones of Hui Aloha `O Puna Makai.
The partnership also providing a monthly food pantry on the last Monday of each month at 1 p.m. at the café, and have tentatively scheduled a hot soup kitchen in January of 2005. The café has also been designated an emergency food pantry.
Donations can be dropped off at the café, which is located in the Woodland Center at Kahakai Boulevard. For further information, contact Lori King at 808-313-9920.

Free Presentation: How to “Succeed the Weeds ” with Trees

 From :

Agroforestry Solutions for Hilo-H?m?kua Districts

A free evening presentation at UH-Hilo by Dave Sansone, agroforestry consultant

Date: Friday, September 19th, 2014
Time: 7 pm
Location: UH-Hilo, University Classroom Building (UCB), Room 100
Sponsored by: UH-Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM)
and Agroforestry Design, LLC

Rampant weeds, acidic soil, nutrient leaching (loss) from heavy rain, erosion and deforestation are some the issues that Hilo and Hamakua farmers and gardeners face. Dave Sansone, agroforestry consultant and owner of Agroforestry, will be offering a free slideshow presentation called “Agroforestry Solutions for Hilo and H?m?kua Districts”, on Friday, September 19th at 7pm at UH-Hilo, UCB Room 100.   Uncommon and rare plant prizes.

Hilo and H?m?kua Districts have a diversity of growing conditions including various soil types, elevations, rainfall patterns and totals; yet there are a number agroforestry practices that can be adapted to help farmers and gardeners overcome each area’s challenges and limitations. “Agroforestry, is the targeted integration of agriculture and forestry crops and practices, and can be used to win the war on weeds, increase fertility and production, improve soil quality and plant health, recycle nutrients, trap erosion, and reduce reliance on outside inputs”, says Sansone.

One of the most common challenges are the many weeds that never seem to take a break, especially in the warm high humidity and rainfall areas. A number of the more noxious weeds such as wainaku or hono hono will grow if they are dropped on the ground. No spray farms and gardens usually struggle in these conditions and often resort to mowing, weed whacking, or importing mulch to keep weeds down.

Rather than fighting a never ending battle against the weeds, agroforestry can empower people to “succeed the weeds” by planting a mix of fast growing food plants, nitrogen fixing tree and shrub (NFTS) hedgerows that eliminate weeds, especially through shading and mulch created by severely pruning hedgerows. This system has been shown to reduce leaching, recycle nutrients, and increase available fertility and organic matter.

Well-designed rapid growing acid tolerant polycultures such as cow pea or other vigorous legumes, cassava, pigeon pea (aka Gandudi bean or Cajan Cajanus), and banana can quickly shade and mulch out low growing weed seedlings while NFTS hedgerows become established. This can offer early, reliable production with minimal inputs or effort after established.

Occasional alleys can utilize strategic companion planting of grains, beans, roots, shrubs, crop trees, and overstory trees in intercrop rows between the NFTS hedgerows. Shade loving and tolerant plants can be added later including cardamom or maile. This model offers increasing production while reducing effort and inputs along with biological weed control while reducing the amount of land needed to grow vegetables and tree crops. Slow growing spice and exotic fruit crops command high prices due to the time it takes to reach maturity, but farmers who integrate them into diverse farms can adapt operations to have continuous production while the high value trees grow.

Acidic soil due to leaching of calcium, sodium and magnesium by heavy rain is a more complex issue. While agricultural lime can raise the pH, it is a short term solution that is largely dependent on outside inputs. It seems that acidic soils have been a major limiting factor here for thousands of years. To learn more about new and traditional agroforestry solutions to overcome acid soils and other challenges that Hilo and H?m?kua farmers and gardeners face, attend “Agroforestry Solutions for Hilo and H?m?kua Districts”.

More information is available at

About the presenter: Dave Sansone is owner of Agroforestry, LLC which offers agroforestry and permaculture consultation and research and services on Hawai’i Island. He has been developing restoration agroforestry models since 2002 and has worked with over 1,000 species of plants in a diversity of climates, conditions, and cultivation systems.   Dave promotes agroforestry models that integrate site adapted species, perennials, native species, and endangered species as a way to effectively address the 6th Great Extinction, climate change, and increasing population while growing the best food possible.  He has offered inspiring and informative presentations at numerous venues including conferences, universities, and colleges.

Commentary–Tomorrow in Nanawale, Pancakes to Celebrate!

Frojm Cody Osbourne:

Last night we served Spaghetti at Nanawale! I would like to thank Liko Lehua Cafe and Gourmet Butter once again for an awesome meal and for providing, cooking and transporting all that deliciousness!
Liko has provided meals for about a dozen days, and couldn’t have done it without the gracious help of our community. The last two days food was in part provided by a donation by New Hope Hilo Hawaii Church. They bought the chicken for the Chicken Luau, and they provided the hamburger and sauce for last nights Spaghetti! I would estimate, all told that Liko Lehua has provided nearly 8,000 meals over the last two weeks. I would estimate that about 6,500 of those meals were provided by donation from big island businesses and individuals!
So we have to give a huge MAHALO to East Hawaii as well for really stepping up to the plate here! What an amazing contribution and last two weeks.
Two weeks ago today, we opened our eyes not only to a brand new day, but to a brand new chapter in our lives. A lifetime of experiences have transpired over the last two weeks, and now that most have power, we shift our focus to clean up and rebuilding, with an eye on those few individuals still without power.
The good news is that with fewer in need, it becomes easier by the day to get to everyone that needs it. Volunteers have made the difference and are continually needed to keep making a difference so we can help anyone that needs it.
So tomorrows Pancake breakfast is not only a celebration of what we’ve accomplished, but a way for us volunteers and victims to come together and share what still needs to be done. There is a ton of work ahead of us, so let’s EAT, say a word of thanks, stand united and move forward together.

Editor’s Note:  The pancake breakfast will take place Saturday, August 23, from 9:15 to 11:00 a.m.

Food — Got Culture?

By Sofia Wilt

Big Island Chronicle’s Kitchen Diva

A recent culinary trend favored by restaurants, nutritionists, artisanal food products as well as the home cook is a return to a practically forgotten means of food preparation: fermentation. Prior to refrigeration, pasteurization and other industrialized methods of food production, people were innovative with storage their food to last them to the next harvest or prevent spoilage of valuable foods like meat, fish or milk. Sauerkraut, kim chi, pickles, miso, yogurt, and gravlax are a few examples of traditional fermented foods. Inspired by necessity, our ancestors learned something pretty amazing from the fruits of their labor: without exactly intending to, they created foods that had new and exciting flavors and textures. Better still, they had enhanced and multiplied the foods nutritional value.
To clarify, fermented foods are different from vinegar pickles. Vinegar pickles, while delicious, do not have friendly probiotic bacteria nor enhanced enzyme and vitamin content as found in ferments. The proliferation of friendly bacteria, or lactobacilli, in fermented foods enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels, notably vitamin C and various B vitamins. Read more

Kona News — Greenwell Farms Unveils New Jeni K 100% Kona Coffee Varietal

(Media release) —  Greenwell Farms announced the release of Jeni K 100% Kona Coffee, the first release of its new Greenwell Farms Signature Series. Known for delivering award winning Kona Coffee for 162 years, Greenwell Farms created Jeni K 100% Kona Coffee in honor of the Greenwell family heritage. This premiere Greenwell Farms Signature Series roast was carefully hand selected from the highest quality trees and grown in perfect climate conditions.  

Fourth generation Kona coffee farmer and Greenwell Farms president Tom Greenwell is guiding the iconic family farm in a new direction by planting this new Jeni K Kona Coffee varietal.

Read more

Kona News — Save The Dates For The 42nd Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

(Media release) — Hawaii’s oldest food festival will once again host more than 40 events throughout the 2012 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival slated for November 2-11. For easy planning the Festival has separated its events into three signature blocks of Festival fun, Opening Weekend, Festival Weekday Events and Festival Finale Weekend, brewing a full menu of events for attendees during this iconic coffee festival. Read more

Food — Annie’s Burgers And Beers Is A Great Kona Eatery

Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Situated in Mango Court where Evie’s Naturals Foods used to be, Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers is, hands down, one of the best, most-affordable places to eat in Kona, certainly in Kainaliu.  The eatery has a nice view for sunset, the beers on tap include those from Kona Brewing Company, and the burgers made with grass-fed, island-raised beef are creative and flavorful. Eat the bbq burger stacked with onion rings, and you’ll get a good sampling of the scrumptiousness here.  Makaela and Kai, two of the servers that are there more often than not, are very personable and eager to make your dining experience enjoyable.  Tell them Big Island Chronicle sent you.  (79-7460 Mamalahoa Hwy. #105 or call (808) 324-6000.  Open everyday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Food — Where You’ll Find Ceviche Heaven

On your next trip to Costco, go hungry and head to Ceviche Dave’s first.  This little hut in the North Kona industrial park (located in Hale Kui Plaza above Home Depot at 73-4976 Kamanu St., Suite 100) is dishing out some excellent food.  We had the Cioppino, a tomato-based fish chowder, along with the Makalawena tostada, a “double-cheesy chrispy tortilla” topped with ceviche and feta cheese. We also had the “Wanna Be Me Salad,” which is comprised of shrimp on greens with feta and One-Ton chips (from Maebo’s in Hilo).

All the dishes were delicious, more than satisfying to the palate, being the seafood lovers that we are. We dare say that this place is ceviche heaven. Read more

Food — Vote For Kaleo’s In Honolulu Magazine’s 2013 Hale Aina Awards

Kaleo's Bar and Grill is located at 15-2969 Pahoa Village Road. Call (808) 965-5600 for reservations. (Image courtesy of Trip Advisor.)

Nominations for Honolulu magazine‘s 2013 Hale Aina Award for Best Big Island Restaurant are going on until the end of the month.  Take a moment and vote for historic Pahoa Village’s very own Kaleo’s Bar and Grill, which, for two years in a row now, has received the silver medal for best Big Island restaurant, second to Merriman’s in Waimea. As you know, Kaleo’s is one of this website’s sponsors and is, in Big Island Chronicle’s opinion, the best Big Island restaurant — but we’re partial.