Food and Power in Hawaii

In this weeks readings I realized how much farmers markets are important to the community as any other food source. In chapter four they spoke about how farmers markets are overlooked and underrated as to how much they serve the community of low income people but they are a good step towards food security and farm security. In this chapter they speak on how there are different types of farmers markets that serve different demogrpahics and that was something I never thought of, how the markets could be different depending on where they are located in towns. Some markets were shown to be co-opted by tourism and have changed their system to fit the tourist needs instead of their own community around them. Another problem in this chapter was that the hours/days that the farmers markets are open and running compared to say Whole Foods, its more convenient to go to Whole Foods for something when you need it rather than waiting for the farmers market to come to town.

In the other weeks reading chapter 7 focuses on Women farmers in Hawaii. This chapter shows us the challenges that women in the agriculture field face during farming. They state that “women run farms are smaller in scale, grow more diverse crops, and tend to choose direct marketing outlets such as farmers markets…” this shows how heavily the women farmers rely on the farmers markets and the sole support on their community to support it completely. This chapter looks on the issue of people assuming the women who run these smalls farms married into the farm life but its more likely that they started the farm alone or with a partner. More challenges that women farmers face are for example, the price competition of larger organic farms because they do have more products and also lowering of organic standards.

Week 7 Blog Post

This week’s reading: excerpts from Food and Power in Hawai’i edited by Aya Hirata Kimura and Krisnawati Suryanata, discusses the social, economic, and even political dynamics of food through farming and farmers’ markets in Hawai’i. Chapter 4, written by Monique Mironesco, focuses in on Hawaiian farmers’ markets and their importance in Hawaiian food culture. Mironesco lists four different types of farmers’ markets: Hawai’i Farm Bureau Federation sponsored markets (HFBF), People’s Open Markets (POMs), Private markets, and “Anything Goes” markets. She goes through each type of market, describing the varying locations, demographics, and cultural implications. She then lists the main challenges that these farmers’ markets are facing, most notably the selling of prepared foods vs. whole foods and the presence of locals vs. tourists at the markets. In summary, she claims that the growth of farmers’ markets across Hawai’i is on track to lead to greater consumer awareness and also the potential development of more political agendas to change the course of the current Hawaiian food system. Chapters 7 and 8, written by Ava Hirata Kimura and Mary Mostafanezhad et. al respectively, delve deeper into the Hawaiian farming industry itself, specifically the rise of women farmers and organic agriculture. Obviously farming is a heavily male dominated industry across the world, and very much so in the United States with only 14 percent of principal farm operators being women (158). However, a growing number of women are finding opportunities in farming, specifically organic farming. The authors describe the growth of organic agriculture across Hawai’i as extremely important to the agro-food systems of Hawai’i, positively impacting the environment as well as the economy. Overall, this week’s readings regarding agriculture and farmers’ markets in Hawai’i helped me gain a much broader understanding of the farming’s positive impact on the food systems of Hawai’i as well as the various challenges that are being faced.

Week 7 Blog Post- Food and Power in Hawai’i

One of my biggest takeaways from this week’s reading was the collective power of farmers’ markets. When I was little, I used to love going to the farmers’ market and getting a croissant as big as my face. I had no idea that farmers’ markets could be used to provide an outlet for political action or strengthen community. As I progressed in the reading, I realized that the farmers’ markets near where my family lives were all created with the same central idea and goals; homogenizing the experience within the area. However, this is not the case in Hawai’i. HFBF markets, People’s Open Markets, and Private Markets all exist with the common goal of selling farm fresh produce, but their customer base, set-up, and marketing style are very different. I thought it was interesting that there was so much variation in the markets in such as small area. I also thought it was interesting that women who farm tend to use direct outlets, such as farmers’ markets. Women also farm differently than men, choosing to grow diverse crops on a small sale as opposed to large-scale monoculture. The USDA data that only 166 US farms are certified organic caught my eye, because one would think there would be more organic farms in the US. When I worked at a garden center over the summer, my boss would point out to me the growers that grew their plants organically but were not certified organic. This is because it is expensive to stay certified and many growers do not feel like it is worth it to have the label. As a result, the growers who are certified are larger, more commercial operations who can afford to stay certified and place value on the label. This can be seen in Hawai’i, where many of the farmers grow organic produce but are not certified organic.

Food and Power in Hawaii

It was really interesting to read about Hawaii’s farmers’ markets and farms in general. Chapter 4 talked a lot about the different types of farmers’ markets and what the impact is on communities. It was very interesting to learn about the environmental movements that pushed farmers’ markets into popularity and are seen as essential to Hawaii’s food access and health. However, there were class and elitist expectations associated with farmers’ markets. Markets also support farmers more than the poor who suffer from food insecurities. Markets also serve as public and political spaces. There are four different types of markets that the chapter includes, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation-Sponsored Markets, People’s Open Markets, Private Markets, and “Anything Goes” Markets. Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation-Sponsored Markets serves various different demographics and unites farming families, it also uses social media to promote the market. The People’s Open Markets is a government response sponsored by the city and county of Honolulu to the lack of fresh produce in certain areas and the high cost of living. The market provides older immigrants access to fresh food at low costs, which could be even lower than prices in grocery stores. Private markets are usually for-profit and utilize social media. It also provides grants and non-profit status to farms. Farmers Markets balance between whole foods and prepared foods, and local customers and tourists. 

Chapter 7 discusses women ran farms. It discusses the political economy that surrounds small farms. The chapter also includes the debate between conventional and organic agriculture. Women-run farms tend to produce a greater variety of produce and food. Many of the women had previous sexist employment experiences before starting a farm. Their main concern and reason for starting farms is to care for the health of their family, friends, and themselves.

Food and Power in Hawai’i Blog Post

In chapter four, I made some realizations about farmers markets and how they benefit the community they are centered in. Every individual farmers market is a different experience. Some cater to the lower class, allowing the use of food stamps and having lower prices. Some are produce only, some allow prepared food. Some are attended by locals, others by tourists, and many are mixed. Some of them are places for quick shopping, whereas others are spaces where friends share food and spend time. The occasional farmers market will have booths for political activists, and others will focus on food alone. They each contribute to society in a different way, and each can contribute to problems in a community. Farmers markets that cater to the lower class often do not enforce zero-waste rules and produce-only farmers markets are often too expensive or separated for some people to attend. The movement of self-reliance in Hawaii that has lead to the increasing popularity of farmers markets has also created some social, economic, and political tension, but there seems to be a farmers market for everyone in Hawaii. In chapter seven, the relationship between organic agriculture and feminism was interesting to me. Farming is a stereotypically masculine career, so women who take up farming are marginalized in a way that is very common for women to experience. Women have this in common with organic agriculture, which I imagine is the reason that many women farmers will choose the organic style. organic agriculture goes against many of the more common methods used to produce food for large amounts of people. They have little opportunities to sell to large institutions and therefore face financial issues, but organic farming is far more beneficial to the environment than conventional agriculture. There is also the political aspect, which promotes clean, healthy, delicious food that is produced with care and love in contrast with food produced in factories, supplied by large farms that use pesticides. The relationship between women’s issues and organic agriculture issues are strikingly overlapping, but women farmers who choose the organic style are benefitting Hawaii overall because of how travelled food is treated. In chapter eight, I thought the WWOOF movement/program was interesting and honestly seemed really fun. There are many benefits for workers, such as a unique lifestyle, living in a beautiful place, farm benefits, and more. It works effectively for community building because it unites people under a single cause, this cause being the success of a small organic farm. However, I find it interesting that the growth of the farms decreases the value of the WWOOF workers. A larger farm would be more focused on profit, and will have more need for devoted workers, and lots of them. Considering farm labor in Hawaii in contrast with the United States, it is easy to see how Hawaii would be in need of workers. The isolation of Hawaii from the rest of the States seems to cause many issues for Hawaiian agriculture overall, but it also creates a strong sense of community.

Organic Farming

I was struck by the author’s concept of “farmers’ markets as a political tool to address agricultural issues” and the various kinds of markets described. I can see how some of the markets would accomplish this better than others, particularly the ones that are temporary and mobile. I was unclear about the distinction between produce and “processed” foods, since most of the examples given were of prepared foods being sold by chefs. I was also struck by the disparagement of “tourists,” since I have been one of these in most every city I have visited. While I have never traveled to one on a bus, I wondered if my attendance was an undue burden. The information in Chapter 7 was wide-ranging. The comparison statistics on women in agriculture vs law and medicine seemed obvious to me as a matter of dollars and cents. Not many young men are going into farming either. The controversy over GMO seeds shed some light on Hawaii’s historical over-reliance on large-scale agricultural objectives. The state Farm Bureau even elected a GMO company executive as its leader. The writing by Michelle Galimba read like a love letter to her ranch. In it she emphasized the foundation of community, as well as the overwhelming importance of local and chefs and food writers to the sustainability of her family’s ranch. I absolutely agree with this analysis. She also pointed out the differences between supermarket and farmers’ market transactions, but sometimes I think this is idealized. The readings concluded with volunteer tourism, calling it “civic agriculture.” These volunteer opportunities are marketed widely, and offer an appealing notion to some people. But her inclusion of the larger, more successful operations that do not rely on volunteers seemed a clear indication that farming depends on a trained, dedicated workforce.

February 18, 2022 Blog Post Hawaii Farming Excerpts

February 18, 2022 Blog Post. 

Chapter 7 of the reading was quite interesting to me since I was previously unaware of the divide within the agricultural space within the United States, but more specifically Hawaii. The ideals and hopes behind organic agriculture are very noble, and ones that I can relate to since being able to partake in fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables is something I have been trying to do more of since my diagnosis half a decade ago. The discrimination within agriculture was something not all unexpected, at least in my opinion since there is already a great divide between men and women in other professions why would not the agricultural sector be any different. The interviews that the author undertook with the female farmers from Hawaii was both informative but also collaborated the many issues that these organic farmers face both in mainland North America, but also locally in Hawaii, such as land leases, pricing both in regard to resources and profits, which was further developed by the accounts of these famers that many of them work part-time or full-time jobs alongside their farming to generate profit for the family. They also voiced many points that I can understand such as the freedom that being their own boss or owner can bring since they decide for themselves what to do with their time, and business which can be very empowering feeling. I found Michelle Galimba’s narrative account of her time working on their families farm enjoyable in a number of ways. Firstly her opening remarks on the location of the family farm as well as how she views the interactions of rainfall on it are quite fascinating in my opinion since I simply see rain in most cases as a calming natural event, but she views it as this living thing which can have multiple casual reactions on the farm and by extension the local economy. Secondly her family’s history with animal husbandry, and farming such as her father’s time as a ranch hand on Na’alehu Dairy all correlates with her own interests in farming since she grew up surrounded by influences of this nature. WWOOF and other similar volunteer farming organizations was something I was not knowledgeable about until after reading this section of the article excerpts. The idea of getting more people mostly younger individual engaged with the process of cultivating food, is something I can get behind because not only is it a great learning experience, but it also helps develop one’s own bodily health in several ways, such as exercising, learning to eat better, as well as managing time better. In regards to POMS, “People’s Open Markets” I found the whole practice both beneficial and shady all at the same time. The beneficial side of this market type is that the residents within these market areas are able to purchase foods, at a cheaper price than most local supermarkets, or convenience stores in that area due to pricing regulations set up within each market. I will say that while this is a good thing for those who are poorer off, that text does make reference to these “vendors” reselling convenience store fruits and vegetables because that are able to make a profit by reselling them which is an interesting hustle but expected in this type of market.

Week 6 Blog Post- Black Food Geographies

One of the things that really stood out to me in this reading was the complex relationship between the black community and farming. Although farming has memories of exploitation and trauma, it was also a means of self-reliance and preserving southern culture in D.C. The trauma still prevents many Black Americans from farming, because according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, only 1.4 percent of US farmers identify as black. This number is incredibly disproportionate, and it also has a lot to do with land ownership. Many of the Deanwood residents purchased six plots, as opposed to the two necessary for a house, so that they had sufficient space for a small garden. These gardens and family-owned grocery stores were spurred by the ideas of generational wealth and upward mobility, things that Black Americans had not previously had much access to. I really enjoyed reading this book, because I live an hour away from D.C., but this story is one that has been overshadowed by other histories prioritized by the Smithsonian and other institutions.

Week 6

Looking at this book from the perspectives I have gained through going to school at Mary Washington I have learned to see things through different eyes. Ashante Reese was able to bring up something I had never thought about before coming here, which was the problem of “food deserts” in low-income areas. How the reason why this is such a big problem is due to the structural racism that is shown forth in these “deserts”. It is not just due to the structure that is put down, but also because of the capitalism that is rampant in our country and how “nothing should be given to those that don’t work hard for it”. This shows those in low-income areas that they aren’t as important as those in better-income areas because they haven’t worked themselves out of those areas. That “they don’t deserve the same amenities as everyone else”. I think that the system of capitalism that has our country in a chokehold should be changed in addition to the food insecurity problem. When things are able to change so that everyone is able to get equity when it comes to these problems the quality of life will be better. I’m over the moon that Reese was actually able to visit these communities that struggle with these food insecurities and was able to speak with the people to see what was going on in the community. It’s interesting just how much my opinions on food and where I get it from changed when reading this book. I know that being in a wealthier area growing up lead me to get the better end of supermarket food, but reading just how much the other end of the spectrum suffered was upsetting. The fact that Safeway doesn’t care about its consumers was truly upsetting.

Week 6 Blog Post

This week’s reading: Ashanté M. Reese’s Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C., dives into the harsh and imperfect realities of food systems in this country through the lens of a historically black neighborhood, Deanwood, in Washington D.C. Reese’s exploration of Deanwood is very intriguing as it gives a voice to one of the many communities that has dealt with setbacks stemming from the systemic racism throughout our country. Ultimately, Reese’s book does a great job of focusing on the community’s ability to overcome these issues through self-reliance. Reese highlights many ways in which the people of Deanwood are able to be self-sustaining through food, such as the presence of a community garden as well as the rise of “hucksters.” Most of these things may go relatively unnoticed, however they are vital ways for the community to unite and overcome the structural difficulties that they are forced to face. Overall, Reese’s book was eye-opening for me as I had never really thought about how involved food and food systems are in the racial and socio-economic issues that are prevalent in our society. Clearly food is something that has the ability to unite communities and help people overcome systemic issues that they might not be able to otherwise.