VIEWPOINT: Buy local for the holidays
By 4 AG HAWAII
As we struggle to stretch the value of our dollars during these difficult economic times, here are some seeds for thought as we all begin to make holiday purchasing decisions. We ask the Hawaii community - retailers, wholesalers, distributors as well as consumers - to, whenever possible, buy local. It matters.
A newly formed partnership called 4 Ag Hawaii is being spearheaded by the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources. This partnership is committed to raising the awareness of the importance of agriculture and to expand the agricultural industry in Hawaii.
Buying local keeps the money flowing through our communities and, directly and indirectly, supports our island families, friends and neighbors. For instance, when you purchase items over the Internet from companies outside the state, your money is sent directly out of Hawaii. So, if you have a choice, choose to purchase items that were grown or produced here in our islands. Even more importantly, support our farmers here in Maui County.
In many instances, this means just a little change in our buying habits and may even save you money. For example, instead of purchasing expensive boxes of Mainland fruits to send as gifts, send local fruits that have been inspected for export such as pineapple, papaya and even apple bananas. Send jams and jellies made from local fruits rather than those that were imported from elsewhere. Hawaii's coffees and macadamia nuts are always special gifts.
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS
In order to expedite the process of receiving, editing and publishing submissions to Letters on the Opinion pages, The Maui News has established the following guidelines:
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Some of the most beautiful flowers are grown in Maui County. So, instead of purchasing bouquets of imported flowers, ask your florist to create beautiful holiday bouquets from local tropicals. Instead of purchasing a pine wreath imported from the Mainland, look for holiday wreaths featuring Hawaii protea, anthuriums and other colorful tropicals. Don't forget the local potted poinsettia, chrysanthemum and pine plants that make festive decorations and gifts.
When planning holiday get-togethers, prepare meals using locally grown beef, eggs, fruits and vegetables. If you're making a fruit salad, choose to use sweet and fresher local fruits. If you have favorite holiday recipes, think about substituting ingredients with local produce when possible.
These are just some examples of what all of us can do to help support Hawaii's agriculture and economy. It may seem like small contributions, but if we all did a little, it will have a significant impact on our economy. Plus, it's not difficult to do with all the great farmers markets around the island and retailers that support Hawaii's farmers, growers and ranchers. If you're not sure where the item came from, just ask.
Supporting Hawaii agriculture supports our hardworking farmers and helps preserve agricultural jobs. It is estimated that our state imports 85 percent of all consumer goods. In recent history, Hawaii has been fortunate that transportation disruptions have been either averted or of short duration. Still, it is important that our state increase our self-sufficiency, especially regarding perishable foods. Raising our level of self-sufficiency increases our food security.
There are other reasons to buy local: Reducing the amount of imported foods also reduces the risk of imported plant pests and diseases which cost our state millions every year to control. Agriculture helps to keep our landscape green and vibrant and recharges our aquifers. In addition, sustainable agriculture practices also improve stewardship of the land and environment. Buying local also helps reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy needed to transport goods to the consumer.
A study released earlier this year indicated that if Hawaii replaced just 10 percent of the food we import with locally grown and manufactured foods, it would:
* Generate approximately $94 million for local farmers.
* Have an economy-wide impact of $188 million in sales.
* Create $47 million in earnings, $6 million in state taxes, and would generate 2,300 jobs
Let's create our own economic stimulus and help keep our farmers on the job. Whenever possible, buy local.
* 4 Ag Hawaii is a partnership between the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, retired Vice Adm. Robert Kihune, chairman; Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairwoman; Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Dean Okimoto, president; and University of Hawaii-College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources, Andrew Hashimoto, dean.
TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT PARKING LOT PROJECT
I am writing this in response to Mayor Charmaine Tavares' Oct. 4 Viewpoint, "Creating economic momentum," in which she reported that the county has enough money now to proceed with the planning and design of the long-awaited municipal parking structure in Wailuku.
I would agree that the availability of parking is important but I question the assumption that creating a multistory parking structure will do much for the revitalization of Wailuku. Before the county spends a million dollars on the planning and design of this public structure, another look should be taken at where and how parking should be built in Wailuku.
I could suggest a number of options.
Just thinking about building a massive multistory parking structure on the only large open space left in Wailuku makes me cringe. Even if you put lipstick on a garage, it will always be a garage. If you want to place a public garage in the middle of the old town, the only acceptable solution would be to put it underground. But I believe that there are other and better options to provide parking.
Since 1999 I have spent much time on this subject and I was involved in the public design discussion in 2000. Two of the six design teams placed the parking below grade and made the existing parking lot a town center.
Lots of things have changed since that year. I think another look at the economic and aesthetic impact of this project is warranted.
OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE GOOD, SUCCESSFUL SYSTEMS
PBS' "Frontline" recently repeated its show on health care coverage in Belgium, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Switzerland, to name a few. Each country has a better health care system than ours.
The startling facts are that everyone is covered from cradle to grave, including pre-existing conditions, and no one goes bankrupt because of health care issues. Costs are far lower due to computerization. Life expectancy is longer and infant mortality is lower than ours.
Taiwan retooled its system and took the best from each country with the exception of America. Our system was excluded because it was too expensive and did not cover everyone.
Why can't we do the same? Switzerland seems the most compatible system for us. They have highly regulated private insurance and a public plan like our Medicare.
The health care plan in Congress would be a small start to repair our broken system. But we must keep in mind that other countries believe that health care is not a privilege but a right for all their citizens.
ARTICLE GIVES INSIGHT INTO LIFE WITH PALINS
Anyone interested in Sarah Palin, pro or con, should read the October Vanity Fair article by Levi Johnston, the teenager who is the father of Bristol Palin's baby. He was Bristol's boyfriend for 2-1/2 years and lived with the family during the campaign and for three months after the campaign.
In the article, he tells about every day life at the Palins' home - "Where the kids are in charge, Dad is threatening divorce and Sarah is nowhere to be found."
Todd spent most of his time in the garage, working on his snow machines. Sarah would come home from the office and vanish into her bedroom or take an hourlong bath or sit on the couch in her pajamas, watching TV, asking Bristol or Levi to bring her things.
Palin supporters will disbelieve what Levi says but it sounds authentic to me. It is certainly interesting, especially how Sarah changed during the campaign and why she quit as governor.