Any answer to the question “Can We Ever Eat All Local in Hawai‘i?,” the subject of a recent Honolulu Magazine article, depends significantly on CTAHR’s work in education, research, and community outreach. So it’s fitting that the article features several members of the CTAHR ‘ohana, including ag economist and assistant Extension agent Sarah Rehkamp, MS alumnus Gabe Sachter-Smith, and GoFarm Hawai‘i graduate Rob Barreca.
When asked about Gov. Ige’s often-touted goal of doubling local food production by 2020, Sarah wondered how that could be done, and why it should be. “What would the food system impacts be? How can we support our local producers and, at the same time, meet consumer demand? Based on my training in economic theory, it makes sense to specialize in areas where you have a comparative advantage and trade for efficiency in resources.” In other words, don’t necessarily try to produce everything. Rather, produce what you’re good at, and use it to trade for what others can produce well.
Rob is focused on refining the delivery system through the online food hub FarmLink Hawai‘i so that more local people can get access to more local food products, quickly and easily. He also owns a farm, Counter Culture, that grows and markets everything from bananas for the local vegan frozen treat Banán to corn and edible hibiscus. Gabe, a banana expert and Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences graduate who is pictured in the article harvesting papaya, is part of Counter Culture as well.
The article’s main takeaway is that while eating 100-percent local may be neither feasible or desirable, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and plenty of motivated farmers, distributors, and buyers ready to make those improvements. And there’s no doubt CTAHR will continue to contribute to that.