Having it Too Good Isn’t a Great Thing
by Joni Kamiya, Hawaii Farmers Daughter, August 12, 2014
Hurricane Iselle hit the Big Island several days ago and sure enough there was significant damage resulting from it. Lots of homes and property were damaged and as expected the farmers were hit pretty badly also. It’s been and extremely tough year for those multi-generation farmers there indeed. From having to contend with crop destruction and vandalism, to fighting off the anti-GMO law that sought to ban their crops, it has been a trying year indeed. Just last week it was announced that the activists groups, the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice (formerly known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) joined on to sue these same farmers. Now, with this storm hitting them right at peak season, it can’t get much harder already than it already is.
It’s been trying indeed to be a farmer the past several years and it doesn’t help that not only do they have to deal with weather, bugs, and diseases, they have politicians and activists to add to that list. It makes me realize that we’ve gone wrong somewhere when people have so much time to attack the very person who works the hardest and tends to get the very least out of the work they do. These people provide a basic need for our state and yet are seen as not valued by the actions of a loud, ungrateful minority and their politicians. Do we have it too good that we are blinded and have lost sight of our priorities?
I think we do have it too good. Life is to easy for many of us because we no longer have to spend hours in fields toiling away growing our meals. Our hands rarely touches the soil nor do our feet get stuck in the mud or covered in dirt. Nor do we have to worry about where our next meal will come from. We simply drive to the store and pick things off shelves and displays and put them in our carts. We don’t even break a sweat doing or suffer daily aches and pains from working in a field. We pack everything up and drive it back home and put it away and prep our meals from it. We don’t even think about the work that was put into getting that lettuce in our salad or the grains that fill our cereal boxes. We simply eat and enjoy. It’s just that easy.
I suspect that our lack of awareness of how and where our food came from makes us forget about the work needed in producing food. We no longer think about it and are so focused on the things in our foods and what it’s going to do to us. Some spend incessant amounts of time reading and researching on the computer about what we are putting in our bodies. We are so worried about ourselves and how it is going to affect us in the end. But really, is there anything that truly warrants us being so focused on ourselves all the time? We just have too much time on our hands if that’s our focus.
With the recent hurricane hitting us, many farmers and ranchers did indeed get affected by the storms. Ulupalakua Ranch and Maui had significant damage as well as other Puna and Keaau papaya farmers. These kind of events will have a significant impact on our local food supply as well as burden the farmers and ranchers hit by it for some time to come. Shouldn’t we as Hawaii citizens really look at how we will foster support for these folks rather than constantly listen to activists wanting to attack the work that they do? The activists are only about taking, almost like these disasters take and give nothing to our hard working stewards of the lands. When things are gone do we realize the value of it. That’s too late.
Sometimes, we might need a bit of hardship in our own lives to realize how nice it is to live in the land of abundance. Some people can spend hours reading labels about their food and choosing something more expensive in the belief that it’s going to be better for us. Some are even very worried about the kind of toilet paper they use too! Most of friends and family didn’t care what kind of toilet paper there was, just the fact that they got their hands on some. There are a few people who REALLY care about what they put near their butts apparently.
However, when there is a true emergency or pending hardship, all those thoughts go out the window and we really just grab at what’s available. No one is focusing on buying only organic and GMO free when there’s a big storm coming or a disaster approaching. There’s no time for it. It’s be fed or have nothing. Are you going to demand that the emergency shelter carry non-GMO food and bleach free toilet paper? What really is our priority here? Survival and comfort or high end goods? Don’t we want food security more than anything in Hawaii so no one has to be without?
In a time when there is a conflict within agriculture and between farmers, isn’t it time to really stop and look at what we want? Do we want to spend all this time and energy fighting each other or do we need to prepare for when we may have nothing? Maybe Hawaii residents really needs to have more hardships fall upon us to make us realize that we’ve got to end the fighting and seek to work together. Having nothing is what’s going to make us realize how lucky we are to have the farmer and tools right here already. Who’s ready to move forward towards the real goals or do we prefer to continue to be weathering in storm after storm getting us nowhere fast? We have a choice now in this election to send a message to the direction we want to move in.
SA: Big Isle papaya farmers' loss estimated at $53 million
WHT: Iselle caused extensive damage to ag crops