A note from the editor

People employ the “buy local” concept in a multitude of ways. For some, it amounts to supporting small businesses in the community. For others, it’s about sustainability.

Regardless of the motive, the method produces a panaroma of findings for those who attempt to follow it.

A friend of mine from New York City strove to be a “buy local” adherent while visiting here this week. For him, this meant try for Kaua‘i products first and foremost, and whenever not available, go for something at least with a Hawai‘i label.

While finding a cup of pure Kona coffee to start the day off proved exceedingly challenging, it was the tablespoon of sugar to go in it that left a less than sweet taste in his mouth. At first glance, Maui’s sugar in the raw looked to be a solid choice. But further inspection regrettably revealed the product is refined on the Mainland.

A sadly similar situation reared its two-faced head in his effort to find a mid-day snack. After taking a closer look, a bag of Maui onion potato chips were made on the Mainland by the Frito Lay corporation (nice marketing).

But there were some successes worth savoring.

Lunch at Merriman’s downstairs café was one. The Kaua‘i-grown fried avocado tacos, topped with some fresh mahimahi caught in Hawai‘i waters, instantly rose to the top of his best-ever fish taco list. A strong second place was the day before at the Hanalei joint.

Another positive “buy local” experience arrived in the form of salads at KP Lounge in Kapa‘a. The warm goat cheese from Kunana Dairy on a bed of crisp Manoa greens left a memorable mark on his mind.

To wash this meal and others down, Kaua‘i’s amber ale and Kona’s lager remain remarkable selections at Kalapaki Joe’s and elsewhere. And I’d be remiss to not note the ginger in the Bulleit bourbon concoction crafted by the bright bartenders at St. Regis, thoroughly enjoyed amid breathtaking views of Hanalei Bay and soul-soothing sounds from a classical pianist.

As the “buy local” flotilla arrives at the Garden Isle, we must weed out the weak paddlers from the strong. A scrutinizing eye can uncover the downplayed details on product packaging. A critical mind can reveal the shortfalls of restaurant fare that passes itself off as something it’s not.

But our endeavors in this vein will only be as worthwhile as we make them.

It can be easier to partake in cheap fast food, especially if you’re famished from riding waves all day. But the extra effort to seek out and support locally grown grinds pays dividends in the form of tastier treats, healthier food, and a cleaner conscience from being Earth-conscious.

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