A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to visit MA‘O Organic Farms, which is a 25-acre organic certified farm in Lualualei Valley on the western coast of O‘ahu, near the town of Wai‘anae. The trip was just one of the many events I had planned as part of a three-day meeting that Down to Earth hosted for members of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association, who were visiting Hawaii from the mainland.
Let's Talk Story - Down to Earth Blog
Although Earth Day is officially April 22nd, Down to Earth will be celebrating it on Sunday April 27th with a special day of fun and music. Proceeds from tickets sold will go towards supporting an awesome new sustainability charter school in Kaimuki, the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS). Here's a great opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and have fun doing it! Learn more about Down to Earth's Earth Day Celebration
Tucked into the beautiful Lualualei Valley on the leeward coast of Oahu, are dozens of family farms growing a range of produce for the island. One of the newest in the valley is Ili’ili Farms, a certified organic aquaponics farm which we recently had the pleasure of visiting. Aquaponic farmers typically grow vegetables in water, instead of soil, where they place fish to nurture the plants.
I'm very excited to introduce Life Foods, Inc., one of our favorite new brands in the store. Life Foods is a Maui-based company that makes wonderfully delicious superfood products including veggie burgers, condiments, hot sauces, salad dressings and vegetable ferments. Life Foods was founded on Maui in 2013 and continues to expand throughout the islands (and soon mainland distribution!). They source as much as possible from local Maui farms to support our island agriculture and to bring you the freshest, most nutrient-dense foods possible.
For our second Talk Story with the Love Life! Team newsletter feature, we are thrilled to share the story of Ko Farms, a local grower that has been providing organic produce for Down to Earth for almost 30 years.
The need to produce more food in some regions of Asia during the past fifty years was—for a time—achieved by increasing the yields of grain crops by as much as 2.5 percent per year using industrial farming methods. These methods relied on high-yielding hybrid seeds and more recently seeds of genetically modified (GM) crops, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and intense irrigation. But by 2004 annual growth rates of crop yields began declining, e.g. the annual growth in yield for rice crops dropped to as low as .5 percent.
As concern over diminishing soil quality grows in the Asia-Pacific region, natural farming methods may hold the cure. The prime cause of soil erosion and nutrient depletion during the past thirty years is over-application of chemical fertilizer.
This is the finding of a study by the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Science, which notes that farmers have become too dependent on artificial fertilizers. They haven't been building up their soil with organic matter that nurtures the soil naturally and binds it together to help resist erosion due to wind and rain.
In many Asian and South Asian cultures, the health benefits of rice and other staple starches are well established. Lacking this cultural knowledge, many people in Western countries have bought into fad diets that encourage the consumption of high-fat protein from meat and dairy products. These diets discourage people from eating starches and carbohydrates (grains).
Mark Fergusson, Chief Organic Officer (CEO/CFO) Down to Earth Organic & Natural
Plant-based diets are experiencing a resurgence throughout Asian countries as millions of consumers make the switch for religious, health, and environmental reasons. It counters the trend of increasing economic prosperity that is leading many people to adopt a western meat-based diet. Although they see it as a status symbol of affluence, the adoption of this unsustainable diet leads to ill health and disease.
"Young bamboo bends, old bamboo breaks.” This saying from Indian yoga philosophy illustrates how our behaviors and attitudes are more flexible in our youth than in our old age. That's why it's important that we begin teaching children how to eat healthy while they're young. Experts at the World Health Organization agree that the healthiest diet is a low-fat, plant-based diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in their natural, unprocessed state.