3 Farm Tours for Food Lovers in Maui

Mention Maui and visions of sandy beaches, surfers, palm trees, and umbrella drinks come to mind. Maui certainly has all those things, but dive past the postcard perfect shoreline, and you’ll find that Maui’s unique microclimates and wealth of fertile volcanic soil also make it prime farming land. Here are three spots to get an authentic taste of homegrown aloha.

Maui Gold Pineapple Farm

It’s almost impossible to think of Hawaii without thinking of pineapples. Tropical, sweet, and juicy, pineapples taste of smiles and sunshine. Go right to the source with Maui Pineapple Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through golden pineapple fields (not recommended—pineapples are spiky), this is the place to do it since it is the only working pineapple farm in the U.S. you can tour. You’ll visit the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, home to the trademark Maui Gold pineapple, a variety prized for its sweet flavor and low acidity. Check out the packing and shipping factory, head out to the farm, and eat as much pineapple as you’d like, straight from the fields.

You will leave with sticky fingers, a Maui Gold for the road, and more knowledge about pineapples than you’ll know what to do with (like how to select a good pineapple at home, the best way to cut and core it, even how to grow your own pineapple plant from the crown of the one you just ate).

Maui Nui Seabird project lauded

The Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project has been singled out as one of 111 Harvard Bright Ideas.

The recognition program is administered by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

It cited the Maui project for engaging the community in the protection of endangered seabird colonies.

Among the winners were school districts, federal, state, city and county agencies and public-private partnerships, that were evaluated and selected by a team of policy experts from academic and public sectors.

On the ‘Net:

Maui Nui Seabird project lauded – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Fire damages room at Big Island macadamia nut factory

Some $80,000 in damages was done to a small room of the Hawaiian Host macadamia nut factory in Captain Cook in a fire late Sunday, Hawaii Island fire officials said.

Firefighters took 18 minutes to get the fire under control after receiving the call at 5:22 p.m.

Fire crews arrived to the two-story metal warehouse and found smoke coming out of the vents and eves of the first floor “sampling room”. Employees had been evacuated.

The fire was contained to the room with two macadamia nut roaster ovens, officials said.

Officials said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Fire damages room at Big Island macadamia nut factory – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Abercrombie leaves public meeting amid boos

PUHI — Gov. Neil Abercrombie is not getting many kudos from Kaua‘i residents lately. Heavily criticized for signing Act 55 last year, Abercrombie was booed several times at a meeting at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Puhi Wednesday evening, attended by approximately 200 people.

“I suggest you take a look at what the children have put on the walls around here, about respect and about self-discipline,” said Abercrombie, making a reference to posters around the school while reacting to being interrupted several times.

Shortly after the state Legislature approved Senate Bill 1555 last year, Abercrombie signed Act 55, creating an appointed five-member Public Land Development Corporation that will decide the fate of development — by circumventing county zoning laws — on roughly 1.8 million acres of public lands. The developments on those lands will generate additional revenues to the state Department of Land and Natural resources.

The meeting was Abercrombie’s first “Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community” event, a series of statewide public meetings where the governor and key members of the administration will share project updates and listen to community issues.

Abercrombie brought with him Scott Enright, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture, Loretta Fuddy, director of the Department of Health, William Aila Jr., chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Glenn Okimoto, director of the Department of Transportation, Leslie Tawata, from the Department of Human Services, and Lori Tsuhako, Homeless Program administrator.

Each department head went through recent improvements and achievements. When state spokeswoman Donalyn DelaCruz opened the floor for questions, Aila was the first to take the heat.

FDA urged to set standards for inorganic arsenic in rice

WASHINGTON >> The Food and Drug Administration may consider new standards for the levels of arsenic in rice as consumer groups are calling for federal guidance on how much of the carcinogen can be present in food.

So far, FDA officials say they have found no evidence that suggests rice is unsafe to eat. The agency has studied the issue for decades but is in the middle of conducting a new study of 1,200 samples of grocery-store rice products — short and long-grain rice, adult and baby cereals, drinks and even rice cakes — to measure arsenic levels.

Rice is thought to have arsenic in higher levels than most other foods because it is grown in water on the ground, optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed in the rice. There are no federal standards for how much arsenic is allowed in food.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic. According to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic — the type found in some pesticides and insecticides — can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period.

How much organic and inorganic arsenic rice eaters are consuming, and whether those levels are dangerous, still remains to be seen.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says consumers shouldn’t stop eating rice, though she does encourage a diverse diet just in case.

“Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains — not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food,” she said.

Scientists: overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture endangers humans

The overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and medicine is putting human lives at unnecessary risk and driving up medical costs, according to a group of group of 150 scientists that includes a former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Along with 50 US farmers and ranchers who have opted out of using non-therapeutic antibiotics in their animal feed, the scientists are calling on the FDA and Congress to work together to regulate unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

In twin statements released on Wednesday, the scientists and farmers said that a growing body of research supported the conclusion that overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is fueling a health crisis. One statement cited a study which estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections cost $20bn annually to hospitals alone.

Donald Kennedy, former FDA commissioner and president emeritus at Stanford University, said: “There’s no question that routinely administering non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to food animals contributes to antibiotic resistance.”

Kennedy said the FDA’s current voluntary approach, which asks the animal drug industry to stop selling antibiotics medically important to human disease as growth promoters in animal feed, was not enough. Kennedy, who was also former editor-in-chief of Science magazine for eight years, said: “Unless it reaches the industry as a regulatory requirement it will not be taken seriously.”

Three decades after the FDA determined that growth-promoting uses of penicillin and tetracycline in agriculture were threatening human health, its own data shows that 80% of all antimicrobial drugs sold nationally are used in animal agriculture.

Lawsuit claims bird attack on Maui golf course

WAILUKU >> A golfer is suing Maui County for a bird attack.

Ray Sakamura claims in his lawsuit that he was attacked by a large bird at the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course. He claims he was golfing when a duck or goose charged him and bit his pant leg. He says he fell as the bird continued to attack and bit his hand. He says he suffered a back fracture.

The Maui News reported today that the lawsuit alleges the county allowed the bird to live on the property after it attacked other golfers and didn’t provide any warnings to the public.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey says the claim is meritless and there have no reports of anyone else injured by a bird on the golf course

Lawsuit claims bird attack on Maui golf course – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

A-maize-ing: Kohala Mountain Farm creates island’s first corn maze

Lend me your ears: There’s a corny new attraction opening this fall at the Kohala Mountain Farm.

With flags, paint and grass killer in hand, Braden Bair began mapping out and creating passageways for a giant labyrinth Thursday in a roughly 3-acre cornfield at the picturesque farm, located makai of Kahua Ranch on Kohala Mountain Road between Hawi and Waimea.

The 25-year-old Brigham Young University student works as a consultant for The MAiZE, a cornfield maze consulting and design company based in Spanish Fork, Utah. Since the company was founded in 1996, it has created more than 2,000 corn mazes worldwide.

Bair has created more than 200 mazes — including at least 75 mazes this summer — since getting into the business in high school. The Kohala Mountain Farm’s maze was expected to take about three hours to complete, but the grass killer takes about a week to work, he said.

This is the first corn maze on the Big Island, and Kohala High School junior Daylan Higa designed it, said Stacy Hasegawa, Kohala Mountain Farm project coordinator.

Higa won a maze design contest, which had 23 entries from local high school students in the Hawaii School Garden Network Program. His winning design features the Hawaiian Islands, taro leaves, a poi pounder, the star Hokulea and the word “Kohala.”

As the first place winner, Higa will receive $1,000 for Kohala High’s garden from MacArthur & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty and a helicopter tour of his creation, compliments of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. The runner-up, Makalii Bertelmann of Kanu o ka Aina Public Charter School, will get a zip-line trip, compliments of Hawaii Forest & Trail.

Group asks for help fighting alien frogs on Oahu

The Oahu Invasive Species Committee is asking Oahu residents to participate tonight in “Go Out and Listen Night!” to help listen for invasive coqui frogs and report if they hear coqui frogs in their area or not.

Twenty coqui frogs have been captured on Oahu since the beginning of 2012, the committee said.

The frogs are known for their sharp “ko-Kee” calls. There are no established populations of coqui frogs on Oahu, but they continue to “hitchhike” to the island in shipments from the Big Island.

The Oahu Invasive Species Committee is asking residents with smartphones to go outside tonight between 7:30 and 8 p.m., listen for 15 minutes for the signature “ko-KEE” call of the coqui frog, and report what they heard using the free “Honolulu 311” smartphone app. The group is asking residents to report if they did or did not hear a coqui frog in their area.

Details on how to participate, what a coqui frog sounds and looks like, and step by step instructions on how to use the “Honolulu 311” app can be found at www.coqui311.blogspot.com.

Residents without a smartphone can report coqui frogs by emailing the Oahu Invasive Species Committee at oisc@hawaii.edu or by calling the State Pest Hotline, 643-PEST (643-7378).

Group asks for help fighting alien frogs on Oahu – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser