Our family is off to a great start on our first day of local eating for the month of October. Eating locally grown food in Hawaii poses some big challenges:
- About 90% of our food is imported to our island state.
- We're missing many of the more typical options for the biggest food group, whole grains. If we were true Hawaiians living off the land we would eat a lot of Kalo, the staple food for the old Hawaiian diet.
- Since the closing of the final Oahu dairy we have no local milk or milk product options. The lack of dairy represents one of the biggest challenges for my family with two young growing children in need of calcium and protein. Yes, I know I can feed them with alternatives but I'm just not that good at it. It's much easier in our busy day to dish a bowl of plain yogurt than to cook up a fish or some dried beans (which we don't have here anyway). And yes, broccoli and green leafy veggies and even seaweed are all good alternatives for calcium but it's still nice to have a piece of cheese once in awhile.
With all of that I think we have come up with a good plan to feed ourselves for October:
- All of our fruit, vegetable, egg, meat and fish choices will be locally grown (local defined as grown on one of the major islands).
- We will use at least one ingredient from our own garden every day.
- Every dinner will be mostly if not all created from local ingredients.
- If we eat out we will choose restaurants that source local foods.
- We will focus on education outreach by talking to our friends and family and encouraging them to eat local foods too.
It's funny that I include the word 'we' in the plan when my family doesn't have much of a choice since I do all of the food shopping and cooking. But they will be helping tend the gardens and decide what foods are ready to eat. And of course, the kids love to shop the farmers market with me so they will be participating that way.
Many of the exceptions I hear from participants are coffee, sugar, bananas and fresh grown produce year round. Whereas for us, we have these things but are missing grains and dairy. Coffee is grown on all the major islands, sugar is grown on Maui, we have bananas in our backyard and we can grow most things year round.
Dinner the first night:
Local romaine and red leaf salad with roasted beets and tomatoes and a basil macadamia nut vinaigrette
Local purple and white sweet potatoes, roasted in a solar oven
Local garden-grown corn roasted on the grill
Grilled Big Island Top Sirloin with a basil garlic sea salt rub
Bananas flambe and fresh starfruit, bananas were harvested from our tree a few days earlier
Debbie is a Ph.D. scientist and stay-at-home mom of two young children. She enjoys cooking, gardening, surfing and eating local food.