Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Welcome Your Thoughts

Richard Ha writes:

I have been appointed to a national, 25-person Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. It’s the revival of an old committee.

I’ve been asked for two or three topics of interest; let me know if you have any thoughts. We’re being asked to present ideas ahead of time so they can prepare for any necessary speakers in advance of our first meeting at the end of September. I welcome your thoughts.


Federal Food Labeling Act is About Clarity & Common Sense

Richard Ha writes:

The "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act" recently introduced in the House of Representatives is an attempt to provide clarity.

Farmers don't have a problem with labeling. We just need for regulations to be uniform, so that everyone is playing by the same rules. This is just plain common sense.

From The Packer:

UPDATED: Federal GMO labeling bill draws ag support

        04/09/2014 03:30:00 PM Tom Karst

(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 10) Drawing support from major agricultural groups but pointed opposition from environmental groups, legislation that would prevent states from enacting mandatory labeling of genetically modified food has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced H.R. 4432, called The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act on April 9.

“This legislation is vital to giving America’s farmers certainty about what the rules of the game will be when it comes to labeling foods containing GMOs, an issue that cries out for a national solution,” Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said in a news release.

“A 50-state patchwork of different labeling laws and regulations would not only burden farmers and food producers but would cause significant confusion among consumers at grocery stores across the country.

Also in that article, Chuck Conner points out that GMO crops will be important to meet future world food needs, and why this bill is significant.

“This bill represents an important step in cutting through the misinformation about GMOs and instead focuses on the science attesting to their safety and the benefits these crops provide,” Conner said in the release.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C., also strongly supports the legislation.

“With the introduction of this legislation and the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Farm Bureau looks forward to a national-level discussion that will affirm FDA’s role in assuring consumers about GMO safety and reduce the confusion that would result from a patchwork of state labeling initiatives,” Stallman said in a statement.

Read the whole article here


Not a Tomato, But a Caret

Richard Ha writes:

I am in Washington D.C. right now.

Dean Gallo, of the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR), asked me if I would be the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET) delegate representing Hawai‘i. 

The Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET) is a national grassroots organization created in 1982 by APLU’s Division of Agriculture. CARET is composed of representatives from the 50 states, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. CARET’s mission is to advocate for greater national support and understanding of the land-grant university system’s food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs that enhance the quality of life for all people. CARET also works with national agricultural organizations to tell agriculture’s “story.” 

This brochure is an interesting look at CARET, who its delegates are and how it works.

I’m a big supporter of CTAHR and also Dean Gallo. They do excellent work, and I could not be more pleased to support a cause I truly believe in.

Out here in the middle of the ocean, as we are, we really need to support those who support all of us.


KITV: Hamakua Springs Volunteers Acres For Testing

Richard Ha writes:

Did you catch the KITV news last night? Here’s a link to our story Hamakua Springs Volunteering Hundreds of Acres For Testing

Take a look at this photo. I was receiving instructions on how to fly the small chopper in Ted Ralston’s hand.  

Ted Ralston and Richard Ha

I actually launched it, flew it around and spotted a banana clump, which we were able to look at. We saw how different heights affected the screen resolution.

It was very easy to operate, and at a cost of $1500 to $2000, it’s very affordable compared to a real chopper at $500,000. With one of these, we could check around our three streams for invasive species and plan our strategy. We could make a long-term plan for our property based on terrain, soil fertility, etc.

We would coordinate with our neighbors, too, and offer to help them with aerial photos and such. It’s very interesting.


USDA Says This Year’s Corn Crop Not As Bad As Feared

Richard Ha writes:


Published: Wednesday, 12 Sep 2012 | 10:49 AM ET
By: Jane Wells
The latest numbers from the USDA firm up the outlook for this year’s corn crop, and the final numbers may not be as bad as some feared.
Despite the worst drought in half a century, the government only slightly reduced total projected production for the year to 10.72 billion bushels. That would be a 13 percent drop from last year and the smallest crop since 2006….

Why Some Tomatoes Taste Bad, & Why Ours Don’t

Richard Ha writes:

We select our tomato varieties specifically for taste, and once we find a variety that tastes delicious, then we look at its other characteristics. For instance, we do not grow white varieties, because we have not found one that tastes good.
Once we find a variety we like, we control salinity and water volume to enhance its taste even more.
It is interesting to read what has happened to tomato taste over the years.
From UPI:
Published: June 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) — The reason bright, uniformly red tomatoes in supermarkets lack the flavor to match their intense color is genetics, U.S. plant researchers say.

A gene mutation that makes a tomato uniformly red, favored by farmers as it produces a visually attractive product, stifles genes that would contribute to its taste, scientists said.

The chance mutation discovered by tomato breeders has been deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes for the color it provides.

Researchers writing in the journal Science report the gene that was inactivated by that mutation — resulting in a brighter uniform color — plays an important role in producing the sugar and aromas that are central to a flavorful tomato. Read the rest

And here’s another interesting article on the same subject from NPR:

June 28, 2012


Notice how some of these tomatoes have unripe-looking tops? Those “green shoulders” are actually the keys to flavor.

The tomato is the vegetable (or fruit, if you must) that we love to hate. We know how good it can be and how bad it usually is. And everybody just wants to know: How did it get that way?

Today, scientists revealed a small but intriguing chapter in that story: a genetic mutation that seemed like a real improvement in the tomato’s quality, but which actually undermined its taste. Read the rest

We are great fans of heirloom tomatoes. They taste great. I like them simply sliced and chilled with sea salt – sometimes with mozzarella cheese.

June and I loved to go to the Carmel Tomato festival, where we once had the chance to evaluate 200 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

Merrie Monarch: Intense!

I mentioned last time that my daughter, 8, is dancing in the Merrie Monarch hula festival this year for the first time, and so this is our first experience with what goes into preparations for the big hula event.

The number of practices with her hālau has stepped up a lot. During these last two weeks before their performance, they’ve gone from meeting twice a week, as they do during the year, to practicing most weekdays from two to four hours a day.

As a parent, let me just say WOW. That’s on top of school and homework (finding time for her to do homework is taking a lot of parental ingenuity) and trying to make sure she gets enough sleep at night.

But it’s only for a very short time, and as I watch these kids practice on that stage at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium I think about how very much it’s worth it.

I marvel at how much they are learning. It is huge, and great, how much they are learning about the Hawaiian culture – stories, chant, hula, history, ways of being, ways of learning, respect, continuity, integrity, community, cooperation and more.

And they are also learning how to come together and be a part of the total hālau by dancing with the adults, whom they don’t usually dance with the rest of the year. They are learning confidence, and how to perform in front of 5000 people. They are learning to take direction.

They are learning how to work hard at something that’s important to them. Is there any greater lesson?

These kids are working hard but there are so many smiles at rehearsal. My daughter is loving it. She keeps telling me she likes practicing every day, because she feels herself getting better each day in a way that’s different from when they meet twice a week.

What I love is seeing her take part in something that’s so much bigger than herself, than our usual world, and enjoying it and fitting herself into it so well. What more rewarding thing is there for a parent to see than their young child successfully taking on a big challenge?

A reporter and videographer from Honolulu were at the stadium and taped part of their rehearsal for the television news last night. It’s starting!

Stay tuned and I’ll report back again.


Supporting Hunters & the Kulani Forest

Richard Ha writes:

This past Saturday evening, I went over to Nani Mau Gardens to give moral support to my friends in the Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group (MKRUG). This group includes hunters, off-road motorcyclists and mountain bikers. I was an avid off-road motorcycle and mountain bike enthusiast back in the day.

Big Island Video News covered this meeting well. Big Island Video News video: Hunters hold hearing over DLNR gencing, game eradication


Wayne Blyth, chairman of the MKRUG

They had invited all the Big Island legislators to this meeting, in order to let them know how the "hunters" part of the coalition feels about a large part of the Kulani Forest being fenced off. They do not like it. Representatives Jerry Chang and Clifton Tsuji attended, as did Council Member Fresh Onishi. I was floored to see how many people attended the meeting, which was called on very short notice.

Although Rep. Jerry Chang congratulated the group for being well-organized, I think he misread it. It’s not that they were organized. It’s more that fencing off the forest touches a real sore spot. It threatens people's ability to get food for their families. What about the people? 


Some of the 200 people in attendance

One eloquent speaker said it was all about cost for them to go hunting for food. They had to buy the license, pay for dog food and buy gas to make it possible to go hunt for food. On the other hand, he said, the folks who fence off the forest just have to find something to justify getting a grant to do so. For him, it is a cost issue.


It was a coalition of like-minded folks; Rep. Jerry Chang

My dad used to hunt to feed his family. This audience was made up of young people and families, and all the way up to people in their 60s and 70s who have hunted all their lives. I saw the same concern as in people worried about rising electricity bills.

It’s why people are so supportive of geothermal.

  • Low-cost electricity helps the regular folk.
  • Seventy percent of the economy is made up of consumer spending.
  • If people have extra money, they will spend.
  • This will cause our standard of living to rise.

This is not rocket science.  


‘Train Wreck In Very Slow Motion’

Jeremy Grantham, Chief Investment Officer of GMO Capital, gets it! He would be appalled that Hawai‘i, in the middle of the ocean, seems to feel no vulnerability.

For 20 to 30 years, the world has been using twice as much oil as it’s been finding. The world has fundamentally changed and soon we will pay dearly. Hawai‘i is very vulnerable.

One idea for a solution is biofuels, but that is about feed stock, which involves farmers farming –- and farmers won’t do it for the low payment that is expected.

“Base power” is potentially 85 percent of electricity’s cost, and so we need to concentrate on “base power” in order to get bang for our buck.

Geothermal is a cheap, stable, proven technology “base power.” We need to maximize geothermal for the benefit of all our people, or we will have wasted a valuable resource.

Farmers and other “rubbah slippah folks” clearly understand this. They know that the folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder get their lights turned off first.

They also know that folks with money will leave the grid if electricity rates go too high, leaving the rest to pay more.

We should not choose an energy policy that separates us into the “haves” and the “have nots.”

Jeremy Grantham is the Chief Investment Officer of GMO Capital (with over $106 billion in assets under management). He is one of the world’s largest asset managers and articulates the same themes that have been debated on The Oil Drum for the past 6 years.

In his Fall 2008 GMO newsletter, he commented on the underlying causes of the world credit crisis that had just taken place. This article is significant for its content and especially because of who is saying it:

“I ask myself, ‘Why is it that several dozen people saw this crisis coming for years?’ I described it as being like watching a train wreck in very slow motion. It seemed so inevitable and so merciless, and yet the bosses of Merrill Lynch and Citi and even [U.S. Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson and [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke — none of them seemed to see it coming.

I have a theory that people who find themselves running major-league companies are real organization-management types who focus on what they are doing this quarter or this annual budget. They are somewhat impatient, and focused on the present. Seeing these things requires more people with a historical perspective who are more thoughtful and more right-brained — but we end up with an army of left-brained immediate doers (emphasis added).

 So it’s more or less guaranteed that every time we get an outlying, obscure event that has never happened before in history, they are always going to miss it. And the three or four-dozen-odd characters screaming about it are always going to be ignored. . . .

So we kept putting organization people — people who can influence and persuade and cajole — into top jobs that once-in-a-blue-moon take great creativity and historical insight. But they don’t have those skills….”

Read the rest here