Adventures in grocery shopping with Wonder Woman

Earlier this morning, I went to my favorite health food store to purchase all the necessary ingredients for my cooking class, Refreshing Summer Dishes.  One of the items on my list was polenta, and so I browsed the bulk section in search of it.  I go to the bulk section first because I can find better prices there as well as cutting down on environmentally unsound packaging. Upon looking, to my dismay, it wasn’t there.  Since we live on an island, there are bound to be things that may not be in stock from time to time.  Often, this store keeps them on the next aisle (or so I thought), but in pre-packaged bags.

When I got to the next aisle, there was still no polenta, but there was a woman who I assumed was a store clerk because, well, because she looked like someone who would work at this health food store, and she was also wearing a colorful name tag necklace (along with a Wonder Woman t-shirt).  She appeared to be talking to another customer, and I thought since she was there, I’d ask her if she knew where to find it.

“Excuse me” I said, “There doesn’t appear to be any polenta in bulk or here on this aisle either. Do you know if there is any available?”

“Oh that’s strange” she said. It’s usually in bulk.  The other customer said, “I’ll go look for you.”

“Hmmm… that’s strange,” I thought to myself…. why would another customer go look.  Did she work in the store too?

We were wandering the aisle while the other person was looking back in the bulk section.  She suggested we move over to the baking section where Bob’s Redmill products were carried. We searched high and low only to discover corn meal (for baking corn bread).  I was just about to throw in the towel when we turned around and found it a bit higher up on one of the shelves. At this point, she said something like, “I don’t work here, but I really like the polenta too.”

My mouth dropped open. I was so embarrassed!!  She really paid it forward for me today! Thanks Wonder Woman!

Workshop – Food Futures

Workshop – Food Futures

Hawaii Food Policy Council takes a seriously fun look at the future of our food. What role can policy play to influence our food system?

The Hawaii Food Policy Council is excited to team up with the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies to develop an immersive tour of Hawaii’s possible future food systems, set in 2055. Alternative Futures is a creative approach to long-term community and organizational planning – an approach that places a premium on creating multiple scenarios that reflect the range of possibilities and potentials that any future may contain. Futures does not judge one alternative future to be greater than another but rather allows all potentialities their equal right to be…and to be experienced. Through experience we gain insight, and through insight we can begin the process of creating a reality that represents our “best of all possible futures.” The HFPC believes that the Alternative Futures toolkit will give us new ways of thinking not only about what is possible for Hawaii’s food system – both the good and the bad – but also give us a shared language and process for collaboratively envisioning what we want our food system to look like, and how we can go about effecting the changes necessary for driving our preferred future forward. By challenging our perceptions of the possible – we will make better policy.

September  20 & 21, 2012
Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu

Read more about the Ag Conference [Full Story]

Group Coaching Class This Sunday

This Sunday (7/22) is my group coaching class from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

We’ll be looking at:

  • Common limiting belief systems

“I’m don’t have enough time.” “It’s too expensive.” “It’s too hard.”

  • Weight loss strategies
  • Pantry basics
  • Menu planning
  • Dealing with cravings
  • What to do when others don’t want to eat the same way

PLUS any of people’s individual concerns


Recent cooking classes

Here are some examples of the favorite dishes from the past few cooking classes:


One of the greatest resources available in the health food store is the friendly produce guys. When I went in the day before the “Fruity” cooking class, I inquired with the produce guy “What is especially good right now?”  He said “NECTARINES!” so they became the center piece in the “Fruity” cooking class on 7/15.



From the Veggies cooking class on 7/8, the Garden Vegetable Soup was the big hit.




And from the Beans cooking class on 7/1, the Garam Masala Red Lentil Soup was a tasty treat.







Coming next is the Group Coaching Class, and then Refreshing Summer Dishes

Nice Rice, Baby!

Quinoa Nation & Other Great Grains

This Sunday, is the first of my Conscious Intuitive Eating series, kicking off with Power Plate: Quinoa Nation and other Great Grains.

During this class, you’ll learn everything you always wanted to know about grains, including:

  • washing, soaking, and pressure-cooking them
  • the nutritional boost they bring to the table
  • how they support keeping a vital, trim, and healthy body
  • their role in easy tasty toss-together dishes
  • what is actually a whole grain and what isn’t
  • which grains have gluten and which ones don’t
  • their spiritual qualities
  • what makes grains so revered the world over that they even causes teenage boys to break out in dance

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Warning!  Eating this food causes spontaneous joy, laughter, and even hugging!

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Using local and organic ingredients, I’ll be teaching & sharing recipes such as:

  • Black Rice Salad with Mango & Peanuts
  • Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • Black Barley, Fennel, & Radish Salad

Tastings always included!

Details about the Cooking Series

WHERE: Baby aWEARness, Manoa Marketplace

WHEN: Starting 6/24 with GRAINS class & running through 8/19; 4:00 to 6:30 pm

COST: ala carte $35/class; lower when signing up for at least 4 classes; best price when taking entire series Full details with the prices can be found on Leslie’s website at:

HB2703 – Closing Thoughts

HB2703 – Closing Thoughts

by  on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 3:52pm ·

Today, Representative Tsuji requested to “indefinitely defer” HB2703, as he and Senator Nishihara were unable to reach a “compromise” on the final language of the bill. To be totally clear, Senator Nishihara has been an ally in this process – but he was unable to wield power in the House of Representatives, and it was told to me on several occasions, that Tsuji’s decision to insert new language into the bill came to him “from the top.”

There are many ways to kill a bill. You can do so simply by not scheduling it. You can choose not to appropriate funds. You can also insert language so hideous and appalling that the very communities who organized for the bill suddenly stand up against it.

Representative Tsuji chose option 3, which fortunately for us, clearly exposes the forces who have challenged the passage of this bill all along. In the final hours of HB2703, Big Land, Big Ag, and GMO Seed Companies reared their ugly heads in the context of a bill aimed at committing the state to supporting local food production. Rather than kill it quietly, these forces killed HB2703 with an arrogance I never would have expected.

I think it is safe to say, however, that it was our people power that provoked their galling final act. If we had not been effective at moving the bill along, against all odds, then they might have found it sufficient simply to let it die a “more peaceful death” if you will. Instead they sent a message to all of us. A community derived bill supporting food self-sufficiency is not the kind of food self sufficiency those in power want to see.

Many of you have expressed deep concern about the practicalities of this bill. Our DOA, already under funded, would never be able to take on a task like monitoring farm gate sales and assessing the productive capacity of our islands. A goal like “doubling the production of local food” was too vague, too arbitrary. Many of you wanted data. Many wanted a budget. All of this was extremely helpful feedback which I hope will result in a better Food Self-Sufficiency Bill next session.

In the meantime, it is absolutely vital that the community of individuals and organizations who are concerned about food and agriculture in Hawaii think about the political system within which our possibilities for legislative action are ensnared. If we cannot pass the light and fluffy kind of policy like HB2703, then when it comes to passing policies that have a real impact, we have hardly a chance in the world.

There are some key elections coming up which could tip the balance of power in the House of Representatives for the first time in 30 years. The possibilities that could open up if we had a NON-GMO rep chairing the Ag Committee Meetings are endless… so, please stay tuned and if you’re interested, I can help you get involved. Food policy is not only about organizing in our communities, doing great programming, and thinking about policy possibilities that could extend and strengthen our work. It is also about making sure we have advocates in the places of power where crucial decisions get made.

As Van Jones so cogently emphasized in his interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, ( we need people power in the streets and people power in government. Both are necessary for effective progressive action to happen.

I look forward to working with everyone again next year, and possibly this summer during the election season. We have so much work ahead of us – but so much great work has already been done. Thanks everyone for your support and thank you for taking action.

The future of our islands depends upon all of us.


Update to HB2703 * Our last chance

From Ashley Lukens:

Its 12:05. We’ve got 5 hours. But I come to you with hope.

I attended the 9am conference committee hearing with a hui of folks ready to stand up and speak out about the proposed changes to the bill made by Rep. Tsuji.

Luckily, Senator Nishihara was equally alarmed by the new draft and postponed the committee until tomorrow at 11:30am.

Conference committee hearings are mostly for show. The decisions that get made in the committee happen behind closed doors. We need to find our way in. We have 5 hours to do it.

We need to convince Representative Tsuji and Representative Say that we will NOT accept the language of HB2703-CD1 and that we want the HB2703-SD2 passed through conference and ready for a floor vote.

Action items:

1) Call Tsuji’s office and request that he support SD2. If his office expresses concern regarding the implementation date – remind him/her that such changes are merely technical and that the changes he proposed in HB2703CD1 are dramatic and problematic.

2) Call you friends, family, and colleagues in Hilo/Puna area and ask them to call and email Tsuji. At the end of the day – its his constituents who pay his salary and he should be answering to them.

I’ve been told so many times in this legislative session that this bill is dead. Its too fluffy. who cares? Its not worth fighting for. Critiques from the left and the right…But as I’ve said from the beginning, I know this bill is not perfect. Policy can’t be – its not possible in this game. I feel strongly that our government should be doing something and in effect, this small effort is something worth fighting for. So far, our efforts have worked.

Lets show our elected officials just how powerful we can be.

These are some of the players wielding their pens and axes:

Say ,  Calvin K.Y. (D)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 431

Tsuji ,  Clift (D)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 402

Har ,  Sharon E. (D)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 438

STOLEN! HB2703 re-written by Big Ag, Big Land, and GMO Seed Companies

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I was hoping that today would be our last and final push until we got HB2703 onto the Governor’s desk. After making it through every twist and turn, mounting ever hurdle, I was ready to tell you the “power of the people” matters. But instead, I am writing to you with very sad and frankly very scary news.

I received word late today that the language that will appear in the conference committee meeting for HB2703 tomorrow will be PROFOUNDLY different from the language we all testified in support of. (I’ve included the full language of both bills below for your reference). In a total subversion of the democratic process, Clift Tsuiji, house agricultural chair and representative for South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown, has chosen to couch the goal of food self-sufficiency into an industrial vision of Hawaii’s food system.

This cannot be. This cannot happen. He must be stopped. We have less than 24 hours to do it.
Thousands of people testified and made phone calls in support of this bill. We wrote countless emails. We walked the halls of the legislature. We knocked on doors, took meetings, wrote more emails, took more meetings, attended hearings. Countless countless hours of work…all unpaid. And yet it is the voice of  Hawaii’s monied forces, with their high paid lobbyists, who are now being heard in the final version of the bill.

What does Tsuji want to do?  

To start with, he wants it explicitly stated in the bill that the food self-sufficiency goal shall be non-binding – of course!  And if the Department of Ag doesn’t like the goal they should be allowed to cut it nearly in half – of course!

Then, as if these aren’t bad enough he wants our food and farming bill to be tied to “other goals of equal priority”

Like what?  Well like:

§  Building as many new homes as the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation deems necessary by 2020. (What’s a housing issue doing in an ag bill?)

§  Meeting our renewable energy portfolio standard in 2020 “partly with biofuels and biomass crops at the volume estimated by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.”

§  Requiring that “the community growth boundary of a county’s long-term general, development, or community plan shall be respected,” which appears to be an effort to kill the Honolulu City Council’s recent decision to consider designating as Important Agricultural Lands the farmlands of billionaire developer Donald Horton and billionaire developer David Murdock at Ho‘opili and Koa Ridge (which between them grow 40% of the food currently grown in the state).

What else? Let’s Protect GMOs!

Yep: he wants to legislate that there shall be ”no state or county prohibition on the growing, raising, possession, or consumption by people of genetically engineered agricultural products within the state if the products are grown or raised in compliance with federal law.”

That’s because this brave representative of the people probably receives more money from GMO corporations than any other member of the Hawaii state legislature, indeed he may be one of the top recipients of GMO funding in the nation.

Let’s Steal Your Water

Oh and then he inserts language that contradicts and nullifies public trust protections of water resources, by making commercial agricultural diversions a “public trust purpose” – something that big monied interests have tried and failed to promulgate for years.

No One’s Responsible

Here’s another beauty: “No person may bring an action against the state or any state officer or employee for an act or omission alleged to be contrary to attainment of the food sustainability benchmark.”

He wants to stink-up this bill so badly that we’ll be forced to lobby against our own measure.

OK so you get the idea.

The Legislature has received literally thousands of pieces of written testimony and phone calls from supporters of this bill.  Dozens of people have come to the Capitol to testify in person.  Just today a group of farmers published an editorial in the Star-Advertiser calling for passage of this bill.

It’s Undemocratic

In other words, what Tsuji did was not just a dirty political trick that flouts the wishes of the hundreds of people who have lobbied for this bill, it’s probably unconstitutional.

Call Tsuji NOW! 

I urge you to call and email Clifton Tsuji’s office and tell him what you think of his shenanigans.

Ask him to drop his giveaway to the rich and powerful landowners, developers, and GMO corporations.

Urge him to pass the Senate version of the bill known as SD2

Mr Tsuji’s phone number is: 

And his email address is: 

Let’s flood his phone lines and his mailbox. We cannot stand by and have our hardwork used to support the very forces this bill was originally intended to work against.

For your reference:

Version #1 of the bill ( the version we would like to see re-instated) states the following:

Department of agriculture responsibilities.  (a)  The department shall be responsible for measuring and analyzing the amount of food livestock, dairy, and edible crop commodities grown and sold in the State on an annual basis.  This information shall be made publicly available in accordance with chapter 92F.
(b)  The department shall, on an annual basis and in conjunction with the department of business, economic development, and tourism, identify key food commodities to be targeted for assistance in developing an increased local market share.
(c)  The department shall be responsible for planning and adopting the necessary incentives to ensure that the food sustainability standard established under this chapter is met or exceeded.
(d)  The department shall submit an annual report to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session on the status and progress of the department’s efforts to effectuate this chapter and any recommended policy changes or necessary legislation.
(e)  The department may adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
§   -3  Food sustainability standard.  (a)  A statewide food sustainability standard to be achieved by the year 2020 is hereby established that requires the State to increase the amount of food grown in the State for local consumption by at least double the amount grown in 2014; provided that the department shall measure this amount by the farm cash receipts for livestock, dairy, and crops without regard to inflation adjustments, or by a comparable measurement as determined by the department.
(b)  The department shall submit a report and recommendations to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2020 regular session on how to raise the food sustainability standard over the following decade.”
SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2030.

The version that will be presented tomorrow says this:

SECTION 2: Food sustainability benchmark for 2020. There is established a non-binding food sustainability benchmark of thirty percent by 2020. the “food sustainability benchmark of thirty percent” means that thirty percent of the food consumed by people within the state is grown or raised within the state. Direct sales receipts of farmers shall be the measurement unit for the benchmark.

SECTION 3 other goals of equal priority. The following goals shall be equal in priority to attaining the food sustainability benchmark:

(1) the goal of meeting the renewable energy protfolio standard in 2020, partly with biofuels and biomass crops at the volume estimated by the department of business, economic development, and tourism;
(2) the goal of increasing agricultural products for export and livestock feed at a rate determined by the department of agriculture to be realistic and based on available studies.
(3) The goal of constructing the total new housing unity needed in each county shall be the sum of the following:
(a) the total new houses units needed in each county from 2012 to 2016 as projected in the Hawaii Housing and Planning study, 2011, by the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation; and
(b) the total new housing units need in each county from 2017 to 2020, as estimated by the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation and using data in the Hawaii Housing and Planning study

For the purpose of this goal, the community growth boundary of a county’s long-term general, development, or community plan shall be respected.

SECTION 4 Food Sustainability benchmark study.
(a) subject to the availability of sufficient funds, the department of agriculture shall conduct a study of the practical requirements to attain in the state food sustainability benchmark established under section 2.
(b) the department of agriculture shall include findings and recommendations on the following in the study:

(1) the land, water, workforce, education, promotion and marketing, public infrastructure investment, private investment, and other pertinent requirements to attain the food sustainability;
(2) the net economic and employment effect of attaining the food sustainability benchmark; and
(3) the feasibility of attaining the food sustainability benchmark of thirty per cent in 2020 and whether a lower benchmark, such as sixteen per cent, is more practical.

SECTION 5. Guidelines for study. The department of agriculture shall use the following guidelines in the conduct of the study:
(1) The use of water for agriculture is a public trust purpose equal to all others under state water code;
(2) Agricultural products grown or raised within the state and sold by retail stores, restaurants, and hotels to people for consumption are grown or raised in conformance with good agricultural management practices and food safety certification standards; provided that this guideline shall not apply agricultural products sold directly to consumers the farmer who grew or raised the agricultural products; and
(3) there is no state or county prohibition on the growing, raising, possession, or consumption by people of genetically engineered agricultural products within the state if the products are grown or raised in compliance with federal law.

SECTION 6. Advice. During the conduct of the study, the deparment of agriculture shall solict the advice of the Hawaii Green Growth Initiative, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, University of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture and human resources, and other organizations as the department deems appropriate.

SECTION 7. Deadline for study. the department of agriculture shall submit the study to the govenor and legilsature no later than twnty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2013.

SECTION 8. Appropriation
(a) There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of  ______________ or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2012 – 2013 for the conduct of the food sustainability benchmark study required by this Act.

SECTION 9. No Liability for the state of state officer or employee. There shall be no civil or criminal liability for or cause of action against the state or any state officer or employee for failure to attain the food sustainability benchmark. No person may bring an action against the state or any state officer or employee for an act or omission alleged to be contrary to attainment of the food sustainability bechmark.

SECTION 10. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2012.