Maui Ag Festival

The Maui Ag Festival took place on Saturday, April 6th, at the Maui Tropical Plantation. I flew over for my first neighbor island trip that I’ve had in a little while so that I could explore what’s happening with food, farming, and education, getting ideas and inspiration. The festival was spread out over the land and had several tents filled with various vendors covering the following topics: Ag in the Classroom, A History of Coffee in Hawaii, Grown on Maui (or in other words, a gigantic farmer’s market), Grand Taste Education (many of the islands best chefs participated), Flowers, Keiki Zone, Livestock, and Localicious, Eat Maui food vendors). Hopefully, I’ll be able to convey at least some of the highlights of this well-organized, super-exciting event.

Social Media & Smiles – I’m a big social media geek. Some people think social media is impersonal, but it has been one of the best ways for me to meet new people throughout the community. For years, I have talked with various people on Twitter and Facebook prior to meeting them, and upon arriving, found and met them for the first time, or reconnected with others who I frequently chat with, but don’t often get to see IRL (in real life). It was like a giant Tweetup! We ate and talked, talked and ate. It was a sweltering hot day, and we were melting, so we hid out under this tent as much as possible.

Some of the attendees that I was excited to see and meet were (not pictured, as she was really busy working), (just below, who organizes spectacular ), and . I was also so excited to see that was there and she introduced me to a number of new people (like cute farmers and chefs. Thanks Melissa!). Pictured in the group photo are Peter, Dawn of , , Melissa, and .

and Marilyn are here, on the left.

There are so many more people there that I met and talked with, and connecting with everyone was probably my favorite part of the whole day. The festival ran from 9 am to 4 pm and I was there drinking in every possible moment of it.

If you take a look at and photographs, the first thing that jumps out to me is that everyone is smiling!

More Multi-Sensory Moments – When I landed in the airport, I grabbed all the free touristy magazines I could to see what was happening on the island. I made a list of restaurants that I might want to try or chefs that were notable, and I was happy to see that they were pretty much all featured at the festival as part of the Grand Taste Education, in which chefs were paired with farmers to create dishes with local ingredients. We spent $30 and went to 12 different booths to get samples of the food that they were preparing. I requested vegetarian versions of everything so I could sample the flavors and presentation. Better descriptions are on Melissa’s where she got video of all the details.

carrot tempura (yes, carrots!!)

taro cake over macnut pesto, beets, and salt/pepper marshmallow

ulu, sweet potato leaves, and micro-greens

I also got to meet Chef Sheldon who was recently featured on Top Chef, James Simpliciano of KupuMaui, and saw Brian Schatz.

Chef Sheldon

Walking around, I was breathing in the smells of the Taste Education food cooking, the food from other local vendors, the smell of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the feast for the eyes of colorful and ornamental displays. I ate popsicles made with island fruit and drank strawberry lemonade to cool down and quench my thirst.

Family Fun

What I also loved seeing was all the chefs hanging out with their families, including their children who came to support them during the Taste Education event. Many local families were there taking part in the fun which seemed like a great way to spend the day, train rides and all.


The rest of my time was spent reading books, soaking up sun and surf at a gorgeous villa close to Mana foods in P??ia town, shopping and eating even more, including lilikoi gelato!

Sunset Breeze Villa

This trip was a much-needed getaway and inspirational learning adventure.

Please, don’t hide your food!

Several years ago, over the holidays, I went to a spa with a couple of other women who I didn’t know very well. We had some people in common so it was advantageous for us to foster a good relationship and I genuinely also liked them despite not having known them for very long. They also knew little about me, except for what I did for a living.

After sitting in the jacuzzi and getting our massages, we went out to the area where they serve food and tea to relax and socialize. As anyone interested in health food knows, particularly in social situations, there just aren’t a lot of options for us here on the island and it takes mindfulness to seek out what you want to eat.  This doesn’t always work well when you’re spending time with people who have different dietary choices.  If it’s to my benefit to get to know these two people, wouldn’t I want to be a little bit pro-social and kind of just go with the flow?  This is where I’m very influenced by my training in macrobiotics.

The best possible choice for me on the menu appeared to be a grilled vegetable sandwich, which had a choice of either french fries or potato chips.  I guess they didn’t notice that I had ordered french fries until they actually arrived and I started eating them, at which point, they suddenly gasped as though they had witnessed a murder happening.

Yes, I occasionally eat french fries!

Another time I was at a holiday party (hmmm, something about the holidays happening here) and was talking to someone outside about some random topic that I can’t even remember, though I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with food or my business. It was at night, so we couldn’t see each other all that well, but I was enjoying myself and the conversation, when the person suddenly said, “I feel like I have to hide these ribs from you.”  I was like “What ribs? I had no idea what you were eating until you actually just said that out loud.”

Another thing that people have hid from me includes Starbucks coffee drinks, but I personally love going to Starbucks to get tea. Recently, someone ran away to another table at a happy hour/business networking event that I was attending so that I didn’t see what he had ordered and seemed embarrassed to say what his dietary choices were. He was embarrassed to say that he liked chocolate, and I was like, “I just ate my leftover Madre Chocolate for breakfast.” (I don’t do that every day, but gosh, we’re all human, and their chocolate is yummy!)

I get really irritated when the food police show up and scrutinize what I’m eating.

“You’re eating a tomato? That’s yin.”

“You’re eating an orange. That too acidic.”

“Macrobiotic people aren’t supposed to drink coffee.”

Please, don’t hide your food!  Growing up, I ate the standard American diet too.  I now love eating healthy and sharing it with others, but I’m not scrutinizing your every move and probably don’t even notice.  In fact, I would rather just get to know the authentic you. A new friend was telling me about his adventures working out in the field in another country and the cultural importance and necessity of eating bugs. That’s interesting. I don’t want to eat bugs, but I wanted to hear about his experiences.

Eating healthy is all about creating more freedom and happiness for myself which I do love to share with the community, but when it becomes dogmatic and rule-bound, I am uncomfortable.  Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own health and that’s just part of our own personal journey. Yes, I eat plants, but I don’t push my views on others.


Fore more on this topic, you might also like to read my post Teach Tolerance

On women & apologizing…

Normally I write about things related to food, health, and wellness.  I’m taking a moment to talk about gender in this post because in the past few weeks, I have noticed what seems like a ridiculously large number of women apologizing to me for the strangest of things.sorry

Here’s one example of what I mean. In the past week, I was in a new retail shop, browsing the dresses.  In the process of browsing, at least 4 to 5 women inadvertently bumped into me, such as our elbows or bags collided.  Because I noticed the apologies happened so many times all in a row, I started wondering about it.  What was the purpose of their apologies?  After all, it seemed to me that the aisle was way too small and it was certainly too full. Dresses were falling off the rack. Why would these women take any personal responsibility for that? It honestly felt a little bit to me as though my 1/2 of the human species didn’t want to take up any space in the world or didn’t feel the right to be there occupying space!

I did a quick Google search about gender differences in apologies and here’s a summary of the results:

When researchers analyzed gender differences in apologies in 66 people over a 12-day period, they confirmed women consistently apologized more times than men did. They also found that women thought certain acts were 3 times more offensive than men did, and that was why they apologized. Women apologize more because they feel bad about doing anything they consider offensive. When both men and women feel like they have done something wrong, they will apologize equally.  Men just have a “higher threshold” for bad behavior and are less likely to see something they have done as offensive.

Why would we think bumping into each other is bad?  Do we expect so little personal space to be ours?

There’s a woman at my bank who apologizes to me over and over again through the course of a very brief transaction. I have to say, this annoys me, as it makes me think that SHE thinks she’s unworthy in some way.  As a woman in business, I’d much rather be respected than liked and have become consciously aware of how many times I apologize and why.

Women have just as much right to breathe the same air. I think we do ourselves a big disservice by apologizing too much. What do you think? Sign in and leave me a comment.


My Madre Chocolate Farm Tour

I chose Madre Chocolate to include in my Vegan Mexican Pop-up Dinner after learning all about how they make the chocolate bean to bar. They are very supportive of fair and clean food from the farmers to their own production. I’m so excited to use their Xoconusco chocolate in my mole sauce!

Vanilla beans

A cacao tree on the Windward side

Another cacao tree on the same farm

Dave was telling us about lilikoi which they also use in their chocolate

Cacao seeds are purple on the inside before they are fermented and roasted.

Dave was explaining about the roasting process

Here’s a close-up of the cacao pod, roasted beans, vanilla, and cocoa butter.

Some of the finished product on display for sale in their Kailua shop.

Grinding the cacao takes days!

Dave, pouring the chocolate into molds

Learn more about the dinner on my EVENT PAGE

Eventbrite - Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

What is mole anyway?

“What is mole? Mole generically means “sauce”. Modern mole is a mixture of ingredients from three continents, North America, Europe and Africa, making it the first international dish created in the Americas. Moles come in various flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. The ingredients are all roasted and ground into a fine powder or paste depending on the ingredients used. This roasting and grinding process is extremely laborious and if done by hand, takes at least a day. Traditionally, this work was shared by several generations of women in the family, but after the arrival of electric mills, it became more common to take the ingredients to be ground. Moles made in families are all different, as each has had its own varieties passed down for generations, with the making of it reserved for special events in large batches.” (From Wikipedia)

I first had enchiladas al mole when I lived in Eugene, OR. There is a large Mexican population there so the restaurants are amazing, and my dear friend Mario (and his wife Jenny) used to treat me to his mole and homemade salsa while we listened to salsa music from all over the world.  I’ll be serving this tasty sauce over a pinto bean burrito, with a side of MA’O Organic Farms Sassy Salad.


Learn more on the EVENT PAGE


Eventbrite - Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

Cookspace Hawaii

When my friend Ashley sold her share of Baby aWEARness, my space for cooking demos went “aloha”!  I was trying not to worry about this (even with all the people asking, “Why isn’t anything on your calendar?” when one day, Melanie Kosaka called me and let me know about her new business Cookspace Hawaii that was coming on-line in the spring of 2013. Holy Wow! What manifesting luck was that?!  I recently had my first class there, which was a private corporate bonding event, and this space simply a dream come true.  Hope you’ll come check it out on 3/17 when I teach my Go Green Cuisine cooking class!


Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

I’m really excited to include Madre Chocolate‘s Xoconusco chocolate in my next pop-up dinner (Vegan Mexican) featuring their chocolate in a mole sauce.  In case you haven’t heard about them yet, their chocolate is made “from bean to bar” in Kailua.  I’ve taken a farm tour with them to learn how they grow the cacao as well as attended a chocolate-making class and had a complete blast. Each time, I learn so much.  Listening to them talk about flavors in chocolate reminds me of wine tasting, or learning about subtle nuances in coffee roasting to create certain flavors.

madre chocolate

Find out more about the Pop-Up dinner here:

Photos of 1/24 Pop-up Dinner

Here are some photos taken by various people from the pop-up dinner on 1/24 at Taste.  Thanks to everyone who attended. It was so much fun.

(Various photos by Amanda Corby, Kaimana Pine, Melissa Chang, Megumi Kurachi)