Hawaii-grown food products are best buys
THE GREAT variety of foods in today's supermarkets is largely due to an abundance of imported foods. However, as Hawaii agriculture continues to make the transition from a few heavily exported crops to diversified agriculture, more and more locally produced fresh foods are showing up in markets. Consequently, the option to buy local foods continues to grow.
Question: Why buy local?
Answer: On a culinary level, locally produced foods are generally fresher and more fully ripened at harvest time. Therefore, they taste better than imported options.
On a nutrition level, fresher produce, fish, meat, eggs and milk generally means more vitamins. The less time and distance there is between farm and fork, the better.
On the community level, when you buy locally produced foods, you support the local economy, maintain open space, help promote agri-tourism, preserve cultural food habits, etc.
On a global level, energy concerns emerge. How far did that orange have to travel to make it to your mouth?
Q: How can locally produced foods be identified?
A: Shopping at local farmers' markets and talking with vendors about their products is one option. Product labeling can also help. The "Island Fresh" insignia with the smiley-flower has been around for about 20 years and continues to be a useful identifier of fresh foods produced in Hawaii.
In 2006 the "Hawaii Seal of Quality" was unveiled. This seal has the teeth of state law behind it and is administered by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. To qualify for the Hawaii Seal, products must be grown and produced in Hawaii and meet specific quality standards. By building brand recognition, the consumer will more easily recognize "premium" products produced in Hawaii.
Q: How does eating more fresh fruits and vegetables benefit health?
A: Many studies report that a balanced diet with five to nine half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables daily is related to a decreased risk of getting several chronic diseases. The benefits likely come from increased dietary fiber, key nutrients and a variety of phytochemicals.
Q: What are the best seasons for purchasing fresh local produce?
A: A variety of local produce is available throughout the year. To see when certain items are most available, see the "Buy Fresh -- Buy Local" poster available online at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu.
, Ph.D., C.N.S. and Joannie Dobbs
, Ph.D., C.N.S. are
nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH-Manoa. Dr. Dobbs also works with the University Health Services and prepares the nutritional analyses marked with an asterisk in this section. See also: Health Events