The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, 2014

If you’re wanting to eat more organic produce but are on a tight budget, the Environmental Working Group has published a list of foods that you should definitely buy organic due to the high amounts of pesticide residue, and a list of the those items that are safe to buy conventionally.

Why is it important to eat more organic produce?

Pesticides are implicated in various health issues such as disrupting brain development, behavioral issues, cancer, and the decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure is more detrimental for children because the dose they receive is more concentrated due to their smaller bodies.

The list includes:

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that should be purchased organically:

1. apples
2. strawberries
3. grapes
4. celery
5. peaches
6. spinach
7. sweet bell peppers
8. nectarines
9. cucumbers
10. cherry tomatoes
11. snap peas
12. potatoes

…plus lettuce, collards, & kale
…plus blueberries and cherries
…plus summer squash & zucchini

See the full list

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:

1. avocados
2. sweet corn
3. pineapples
4. cabbage
5. frozen sweet peas
6. onions
7. asparagus
8. mangoes
9. papayas
10. kiwis
11. eggplant
12. grapefruit
13. cantaloupe
14. cauliflower
15. sweet potatoes

Farm-to-table yoga event

My birthday was not too long ago and my wonderful friend SH gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.  She bought a seat for me at Yogarden’s Farm-to-Table & Yoga events held at Green Row Farms and I went with my other friend GS.  GS & I stopped on the way at Sweet Home Waimanalo to get some lemonade and then we made our way into the back roads of Waimanalo. When you show up, you get a farm tour and learn about permaculture design methods, do yoga outside looking at the Ko’olau mountains to live music, and then eat a delicious plant-based meal with community. The theme for this dinner was Cajun/Creole and my friend Jennifer Hee was one of the people preparing the meal for about 40 people. Since we were dining by starlight & candles only, it was too dark to get any food photos, but an example of one of the farm-to-table dishes was corn that was grown, dried, and then milled in Waihole and then cooked for us at this event into polenta. Yummy! Since I’ve been working a lot, it was truly inspiring and rejuvenating for the soul.

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.

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

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:

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva arrived here on Oahu 1/15/2013 hosted by Hawaii SEED to share her wisdom with us about issues central to food sovereignty.  She inspired those of us in the room with so much information I could hardly keep up with my note taking!  Some of the main points that I gleaned I’ll share here in this post.

Who is Vandana Shiva?


According to Wikipedia, Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books. She was trained as a quantum physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from a Canadian university.  She’s known as a visionary leader and a figure of the world-wide solidarity movement for food sovereignty and has been featured in recent documentary films. She has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, genetic engineering are among the fields where Shiva has contributed intellectually and through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering. In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving many men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 2000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 34 seed banks in 13 states across the country.

What were some of her key points?

ecofeminism1) ECOFEMINISM: Ecofeminism is the social movement that regards the oppression of women and nature as interconnected. Many of her comments centered on the innate wisdom, beauty, and power in nature.  A couple of times while discussing her recommend action steps to make personal change (specifically organic gardening and cultivating a connection with nature), she drew a parallel to the recent gang rape of a young woman in Delhi.  She suggested that the so-called “right to genetic engineering of seeds” is the equivalent of this gang rape. Not only is what’s happening with biotech connected to violence against women, but it is also connected to what is happening to other species of our planet, in particular, factory farmed animals.  She spoke out against feeding cows corn instead of their natural diet of grass, as well as allowing them to live in such horrifying conditions. She said that to successfully do organic gardening, such as understanding the interconnections between pollinators (birds, bees, butterflies) and the health of the soil and weather are a true science, whereas biotech has absolutely no understanding of this complexity. These companies instead just add inputs (chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers) and overlook nature.  The companies take varieties of seeds that have, for multiple generations, been saved by organic farmers and run the seeds through computer programs separating out the gene sequences.  She said, for example, that while organic farmers know which of their seeds would be drought tolerant, the biotech industry has no idea which gene sequence is responsible for that particular trait.  Irregardless, they create seeds anyway and simply take a gamble on the future of life.  The most important part of farming is NOT growing the vegetables themselves, but actually caring for the soil quality (the nutrition the plants get as they grow).  In places overrun by seed companies, the soil has no microorganisms, but is rather a cloud of toxic chemicals in the dust that blow in the wind. She suggested that after speaking with the companies, that it sounds like they know exactly what safety issues exist, but they are focused only on profits.

2) Racial Genocide: The other key point that she brought up was that seed companies quite intentionally go to a geographic region and modify the indigenous plants sacred to native people.  Much like the US government gave blankets to Native Americans infected with small pox, the seed companies go after the most important plants to indigenous people.  In Mexico, they have monopolized corn; in India, cotton, wheat, and eggplant; and in Hawaii, have gone after taro (kalo). Further, there is now only 5% of cotton seed in India that is organic. That’s right, 95% is biotech.  She said that the cotton belt is also known as the suicide belt. The seed companies come to the farmer’s land and ask the farmers to “sign on the dotted line”. They deliberately sell the farmers seeds that the seed companies know are going to fail in that region.  (Why? Again, profits.) The farmers thus have to buy more seeds, thinking perhaps their failure was just something random that season. Over time, farmer’s inputs go up by as much as 500% as they are purchasing everything they need to grow the crops (fertilizer, seeds, pesticides) putting them into severe debt.  What is even more insulting is that they market the seeds to farmers by using Hindu deities. If for example, a seed packet has Hanuman’s image, the farmers often say, “Why would Hanuman lie to us?” By the time the farmers realize that there is no way to pay down their significant debt, the companies come back and seize the land, separating them from all they have ever known, and from their spirituality.  The farmers ultimately commit suicide. She said in a place where Hindus believe in reincarnation, there is no longer a place where they can reincarnate to.  With this company’s plan, she said, there is no other life. She felt they are waging a war against sacred cultures and that the so-called “science” needs to be taken out of culture.  Fertilizers are leftover ammunition from bombs, so this is the science of killing, not life. Monoculture is a recipe for starvation and environmental destruction. (Biodiversity is the opposite of this and what will provide more food and protect the environment, especially with climate change.)  The “biotech scientists” they speak of are actually just made up people that claim to be experts. When you actually research them, they do not exist at all. (If you have ever seen the movie The Yes Men Fix The World, they are the antidote!)

3) Health Issues: Ever wonder why so many people are now having gluten issues? One thing Vandana Shiva talked about was how wheat is being cultivated now to yield high gluten. Why? To make more profits. Wheat that is indigenous to the place (in her case, India) is naturally LOW in gluten.  Research with animals fed biotech food shows that they die from cancer and lose 50% of their offspring also to health problems.

4) The Right to Ignore Unjust Law: “Progress means thousands of small and medium size sustainable organic farms.” Shiva said that Gandhi has been her inspiration for her teachings and life work. He taught that one need not follow a law that is unjust.  In Gandhi’s time, this dealt specifically with salt and cotton.  Now in current times, this deals with the right to save seeds.  She will save seeds that to her represented freedom, and her dream for 2013 is food freedom zones filled with gardens everywhere. In these gardens we can claim unity which she said rests on biodiversity.  Our strength is in the power we share with nature and that the power of non-violence is stronger than the power of violence.  The power of money held by these corporations will be defeated by our love of the earth and of each other across the world. Another speaker there, Andrew Kimbrell said, “What can you do? Defend love. We live on love, not efficiency.”

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