Morning Rant 11-2-07


> Aloha
> For sometime now I've been collecting pictures of boxes used when
> competitive produce is shipped into Hawaii.  Some of these boxes canbe seen
> at
> Ginger from China, Avocados and sweet onions from Chile and so on.
> Yesterday we hit a new low when I found taro from China being shipped in.
> Evidently, it's being brought in by Honaunau Market and being sold at a
> number of Kona locations. It is also on the Armstrong Produce wholesale
> price list. A 50-pound box sells for $47.10. I guess this has been goingon
> for sometime but since I grow my own I usually donŐt look at taro in the
> stores.
> It is a disgrace that its being sold here and more so that there is no
> difference in the marketing of local or Chinese taro other than by price.
> People do not know what they are buying.
> Personally I no longer feel comfortable buying garlic, edamame (soy beans)
> and other produce from China having seen a number of farms in the country
> and knowing how much of their produce is rejected by the Japanese FDA for
> pesticide residue.  The problem, is knowing where the supposedlyfresh
> produce is coming from.
> Thinking of the recent food summit I have to conclude that collectively we
> need to be a little more proactive in a number of areas. If, as growers we
> cant supply what stores want, they will continue to import. Yet peoplewill
> not grow if they think they cant sell it at a fair price. What should our
> priorities be? Encouraging the next generation of farmers to be sure but
> it's not enough. We have to fight legislative battles and fight the large
> importers. In my PowerPoint at the food summit I mentioned that we should
> consider a 5 cent a pound "inspection" fee on importedcompetitive produce
> like the 168 million pounds of cucumbers and tomatoes that come intoHawaii.
> I don't know what the next step should be for those of us who want to fight
> the good fight. I was just so upset when I saw this box I couldn't believe
> it. Certainly those responsible for the imports need to be heldaccountable.
> They need to be called on the carpet as it were.
> The public should be made aware that Armstrong, Honaunau Market, Suisan,
> Cal-Kona and others continue to import goods like this that have a
> detrimental affect on Hawaiian growers.  We need to force the stateto be
> more proactive to inspect 100% of these items and test them forcontaminants
> as the Japanese do. These companies must pay for the inspection by stateor
> federal officials.  Growers have to understand that they need tocompete on
> quality and not price. They have to learn to work together instead ofusing
> their energy to take customers from each other, causing prices to dropbelow
> their cost to produce. Just so much for us to do, sometimes itŐs a little
> overwhelming.
> Thanks for listening
> Ken