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Building local, sustainable food communities on Hawai'i Island
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Balancing being a mom and business entrepreneur, Jill Lee built Honolulu Gourmet Foods upon the counter-mainstream model of sourcing locally grown ingredients and making her products exclusively in Hawai‘i. “The cost of doing business is high in Hawai‘i. At the end of the day, am I proud of my products and our steady customer base confirms that there is a market for high quality, Hawai‘i-made products,” explains Lee.
Hawai’i Homegrown Food Network (HHFN) correspondent, Rachel Laderman, met with Sarah Ili and talked with her about the chili pepper water she makes. There are many variations of this popular Hawaiian condiment. Sarah’s version is very straightforward – and very delicious. Sarah lives in Pepe’ekeo and works as a substitute teacher, then shares her all-local Hawaiian chili pepper water with family and friends.
HHFN: What goes into your hot chili pepper water?
Sarah: You use Hawaiian hot chili peppers (has to be that kind), limu kohu, and Hawaiian sea salt with red clay, which is called alaea.
HHFN: Does it have health benefits?
Sarah: Yes, it is good for iron, and the limu kohu has iodine. The alaea is good for strengthening and cleansing. It also replenishes your salt.
Grazin’ at Kuahiwi Ranch
To be honest, I’m not so interested in food – as a commodity or a resource or even as a way to feed those who are hungry. What I mean is, I’m not so interested in the numbers – numbers of calories, pounds of product consumed, percentage of locally produced products, and so on. All of those are necessary and useful numbers. I have to pay attention to numbers because I have to produce so many pounds of beef each week in order to meet my customer’s needs consistently, or my business fails. So, I’m not saying that numbers are unimportant. Far from it. But the numbers are not what interest me, what keep me going day after day.
The Laupahoehoe Farmers Market started in September of 2009 with two enterprising women setting up a tent and selling their harvest and that of their neighbors. They persevered for several weeks until another vendor, and then another, started setting up Sunday after Sunday.
In 2010 brothers Josh Lanthier-Welch and Joe Welch established OnoPops, whose flagship product line consists of ice pops made from local and organic ingredients. Profoundly inspired by the patela tradition of ice and milk-based frozen pops in Latin America, the brothers based their product line on a marriage of the Mexican patela and Hawaiian regional cuisine. The result is an endless range of creative flavor combinations that changes continually based on which ingredients are available from local sources.
One of the many lovely things about Hawai’i is we can grow our own cacao or find the pods fresh for sale. Although making chocolate is pretty complex and involves some expensive equipment (Champion juicer, Cuisinart or melanger, molds), you can get a great chocolatey result from just using the nibs. Here is how to select a handful of fresh cacao pods and then ferment, dry, roast, and winnow them to create bitter yet delicious and nutritious nibs, and a few ways to use those nibs.