Something to Bite On!

By Hale Mawae

Do people still need to depend on the land and the sea for the food that they put on the table?
Or are people starting to be consumers and dependent on the store out of commodity and easy living?

Are people just afraid to get their hands dirty, afraid to get some dirt under their fingernails and poke a few seeds in the ground? Are people too impatient to wait and watch something grow, pick it, and have the satisfaction of eating it? Are we so out of touch with the environment, and being on top of the world that we have to chastise environmentalists for thinking outside of the box and laugh at people for riding their bikes around town or driving a silly looking energy efficient car that only goes 30 miles per hour?

I'm curious about these kind of things, because here on our islands, Hawaii is still 90 percent dependent on imported oil to fuel its transportation and electricity systems, and despite soon-to-come dramatically rising costs associated with Peak Oil and carbon taxes, our lawmakers refuse to adopt meaningful efficiency and renewable energy programs. (

That means a majority of the people on our island's do not fish, farm, or even raise livestock on the food that's on our plates, its pretty much all imported. That means for three meals a day, you are not only paying for the price of that meal, but you are paying for it to be slaughtered or picked somewhere outside of our state or country. You are paying for that person's wages to get them to work, you are paying them to turn that work into a product, that then gets put in a truck full of gas and and burns hundreds of miles of dirty environmentally unsafe diesel fuel to its next destination at some Western U.S. port.

Are the fumes tickling your nose yet?

The goods are then moved into the cargo of a ship, where hundreds of gallons of bottom of the barrel fuel are then burned and thrown into our atmosphere and ocean ecosystem to haul the heavy load thousands of miles into the middle of the pacific ocean. After porting at its new harbor the cargo is then distributed even further and loaded up to be shipped off to stores on O'ahu and then continuing cargo moves on to neighbor islands dumping even more emissions and garbage into our ocean, land and air as it moves along on its destructive path of consumer affairs.

Can you smell the gas burning?

Upon reaching its neighbor island destination the product then gets distributed throughout the grocery stores, restaurants and retail stores. Where, after already filling up your tank for $55 dollars at $3.36 per gallon, after driving 5 miles to the store burning what seems to be a quarter tank of gas after sitting in almost 45 minutes of ridiculous bumper to bumper traffic.

Are you choking on carbon monoxide?

You finally mosey on into the store with your modest grocery list. You know, stuff like milk $6 dollars, eggs $2.99, bread $4.99, and the rest of the bare neccessities to cook a simple meal with. The look on your face as you are checking out with the cashier when you wind up throwing down $110 for a grocery cart that's neither half empty nor half full, priceless. You drive home, sitting in more traffic, a half tank of gas gone once you're home, and that same feeling alien abductees have when they've just had a probe shoved up their ass. All of that wonderful individually packaged plastic rubbish from your processed goodies going straight into a trash can a week later on its way to the landfill that's already overflowing into the streets.

Cough, cough.

At a time, especially here on our island of Kaua'i, we had hundreds of thousands of people living here who had worked themselves up to be self-sustainable. Meaning they had reasonable amounts of agricultural product for all the people, there was always enough water, there was enough fish and sea food to help sustain those living on the land, and there was enough land for everyone to be able to live alongside peacefully to the 'aina.

It seems to me people forget this part of history, but Hawaiian's here were able to support themselves freely without the need of stores or markets, and they always had enough even during times of hardship. Now with the amount of infrastructure and hotels being built. With people buying huge amounts of agricultural land, growing coconut trees calling it agriculture and building a 4 million dollar second-home on a piece of property agriculturally zoned, I don't see a bright future ahead for the way of a self-sustainable future.

I don't think people realize that just because they have million's of dollars now, they better be able to have a billion dollars in 40-50 years when they have to buy their own boat and ship in their own private goods, when airports and sea ports can no longer run because of natural gas being a hard commodity to find. I wonder what it will be like then. I wonder if people will have gotten smart by then and have themselves their own farms, raising their own food and crops to eat, and slowly begin tearing down the buildings to make way for reforestation of native trees so that there is more average rainfall, or demolishing a portion of a highway to let that rainfall restore a natural flow to an ahupua'a's stream.

It really starts there...but it's just a dream I have one day. Kamehameha the 3rd after almost being overthrown by the british government returned victoriously to the people after having reestablished himself as a monarch and thwarting the british who tried to overtake him.

He told the people, "Ua Mau Ke Ea O ka 'Aina I ka Pono!" The life of the land is perpetuated through righteousness. How does one perpetuate the life of the land through righteousness? When there are people willing to throw everything western away to make way for a future dedicated to the 'aina. Dedicated to the preservation and protection at any cost for that 'aina. To live for it and die for it! To really know in your na'au, your gut what it means, and what the kuleana is to perpetuate and serve it. That is the only way.

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Comment by n a o i w i on February 29, 2008 at 8:00pm
This is like one of my favorite true and makes you think more about what is important in life.
Comment by Ikaika Hussey on February 29, 2008 at 7:35pm
Aloha Hale! Good to see you:) I've heard a lot about you, would like to meet you bumbye.
Comment by ʻOhukaniʻōhiʻa on February 29, 2008 at 3:37pm
Mahalo for the post. It is true that self sustainability is the future and that we are far, far, far from that now. It will be hard to feed the people when their houses are on the prime agricultural lands of old, and if the planes and boats were to stop, more than half of us would die in the first month. For now, we can all at least consciously reduce our footprint, reduce our waste, reduce our energy needs, support locally grown foods, and protect the land and sea ecosystems that need to be healthy to support us.

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