Living in Honolulu, it’s so easy for me to forget that I live on land that is still very much alive. This past December, a group of thirteen Down to Earth team members (including myself) dedicated some time to volunteer at a special place tucked deep in Kalihi Valley. Ho’oulu ‘Aina is a beautiful nature preserve and organic community garden -- if you haven’t been there, it’s truly breathtaking! Every Thursday, Ho’oulu ‘Aina invites the public to their Growing Farmers community workday from 9:30am to 12:00pm.
Environment & Sustainability
Down to Earth wishes you a very Happy, Healthy 2015! The beginning of a new year is always a wonderful opportunity to start fresh and we’re here to help you. Our January Events Calendar is packed with so many different inspiring events, there’s bound to be one that’ll help with your goals this year. In addition to our free monthly cooking classes, here's a few exciting events you might like to consider in January:
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.
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.
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.
Water resources are growing scarce in Asia and experts say the primary culprit is changing diet. Increasing adoption of a western meat-based diet requires more than four times the amount of water to produce than tofu and ten times more than rice.
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that food production will need to increase globally by 70% to feed the world's surging population in 2050. The FAO says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.
As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products, and which are increasingly being adopted around the world, are unsustainable.
What we eat can cause or worsen diet-related illnesses and thus has a significant impact on our quality of life.
Virtually all the major scientific and medical institutions in the world agree that the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, cancer, and diabetes, among other diseases is linked to a meat-based diet consisting of highly processed foods laden with fats and artificial ingredients. These institutions further agree that the risk is greatly reduced by adopting a healthy low-fat, high-fiber diet.