THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Support your community

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALIt’s that time once again, when most of us focus on changes we’ll make for the rest of the year: Spend less, weigh less, work harder, study more, be a better person and so on and so forth. Sometimes we’re successful and continue on throughout the year. Sometimes we’re not as successful and falter somewhere in February.

I’ve always been mindful to “malama ka ‘aina” or take care of the earth for the past several years, and it’s the only change that I’ve managed to continue past February. Therefore, when the City and County of Honolulu started their recycling program with the blue recycle bins several years ago, I was “all in,” even going through our weekly trash separating the “1” and “2” plastics, glass and cardboard sometimes to the dismay of my other half. “No, the Clorox toilet cleaner is a “2,” so it needs to be quickly rinsed and placed in the blue bin,” or “before you toss the take-out container, what number is on the bottom?” This helps to take care of the planet, but can I do more?

The Immediate Community
While caring for this planet is always a noble cause, caring for your immediate community is just as important. So other than Mother Earth, my next community is the United States, but even closer is this little rock known as the 50th state. I need to support my own immediate environment. I already recycle as much as anyone, which means less “stuff” going into landfill here, which is already packed beyond capacity, so is there anything else I can do? How about purchase local? Supporting local farmers, fisherman, craftsmen, artisans, and the whole gamut. I never really focused on supporting my local community by concentrating on my purchases. Sounds like a plan in 2016!

Realistic Support
For starters, unless you really want to restrict your diet in the 50th, it’s not realistically possible to be a locavore 100 percent of the time. Take carbohydrates for instance. No one here grows rice or wheat, so that rules out all pasta, bread and rice. In fact, the only carbohydrate-laden food would be sweet potatoes and taro. We do have corn production, but it’s simply the super-sweet variety meant for consumption on the cob, so even starchy corn options aren’t available.

Hawai‘i does raise its fair share of beef and pork and our waters do have a sustainable amount of fish, shellfish and cephalopods, so protein isn’t an issue. Likewise for vegetable matter, as both the Ewa and Windward farmlands produce an abundance of produce. However, fruit production is limited mainly to tropical fruits as the 50th doesn’t produce any stone fruit, apples, pears and most berries.

Therefore, I’ll have to determine some “threshold” level of local consumption as 100 percent just really isn’t realistic.

So for the Year of the Monkey, I decided on trying to maintain at least 75 percent of my food consumption to local products. But since the 50th lacks local production of starches, I’ll also include breads produced locally  — from scratch — in Hawai‘i.

Doable Changes
For starters, I’ll make a regular habit of visiting my local farmers markets to procure locally grown produce. Several of the local supermarkets already keep a separate section for local products, which also makes it easier when making shopping decisions. I also plan to just purchase locally made tofu, which I didn’t do in the past, since the vacuum-wrapped Mori-Nu tofu products are cheap and have a longer shelf life. However, the recent closing of Honda Tofu magnifies the importance of purchasing local. And while we don’t consume a lot of beef, I’ll look for local Big Island or Maui raised beef, though it will be a challenge to consume locally-raised pork. There are local purveyors of swine, notably the Shinsato Farm,  which produces outstanding pork, but they primarily sell their product only to restaurants, with the exception of whole hogs for $200. And even if we could routinely consume a whole hog, I don’t have the butchering skills to breakdown an intact animal.

And while I normally pack an apple or pear with my weekday lunches, I’ll either look for locally grown fruits or simply switch to locally grown vegetables. And of course that means no more Barilla or Golden Grain pasta. I’ll have to seek out the artisanal local pasta products.

LOCAL INGREDIENTS AND TASTY TREATS — The Gochiso Gourmet goes local, with his Loco Nachos, made with local ingredients. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

LOCAL INGREDIENTS AND TASTY TREATS — The Gochiso Gourmet goes local, with his Loco Nachos, made with local ingredients.
photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Local Snacks in the New Year
Though the products that make up these sportstime snacks may not be local for you, they make great Hawai‘i versions of the venerable nachos consumed at most sporting venues. Yes, mayonnaise and Sriracha aren’t created in the 50th, but they are produced Stateside (my larger community). The second recipe is my adaptation of Gyotaku Restaurant’s Nattochos and all of the ingredients are from the 50th.

Loco Nachos
1 package of taro chips
1 container of lomi lomi salmon (Hawaiian side dish with fresh tomatoes and salmon), drained
1 package of kalua (pork cooked in an underground oven) pork, chopped
1 small squeezable container of mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce

Place 1 tbsp of the Sriracha sauce in the mayonnaise container and squeeze the container until it’s thoroughly mixed (it should be a homogeneous pinkish-orange color). Place a single layer of chips on a serving platter. Sprinkle the lomi lomi salmon on the chips along with the chopped kalua pork. Drizzle the Sriracha mayonnaise at 90 degree angles and serve.

Gochiso Gourmet’s Nattochos. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Gochiso Gourmet’s Nattochos. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Gochiso Gourmet’s Nattochos
1 package of wonton (Chinese dumpling) wrappers, sliced diagonally and fried until golden brown
½ cup grated yamaimo (mountain yam)
½ cup natto (fermented soy beans)
Cubed raw tuna (ahi) tossed with smoked sea salt
½ cup diced sweet raw onion
½ cup cubed avocado
Microgreens
Furikake

Place one layer of the drained and cooled wonton chips on a serving platter. Evenly sprinkle the next six ingredients over the wonton chips. Lightly sprinkle the furikake on top of everything and serve.

Is it Actually Doable?
It should be. It just takes a conscientious effort to reach for local products despite the increased cost before selecting a product that’s the cheapest. Yes, purchasing local usually does cost more unless you reside in Kirkland, Wash. or Bentonville, Ark., as most local purveyors are smaller operations, often family run so they can’t compete strictly on cost against the big box companies. So personally,  it means reaching for locally caught seafood instead of instinctively reaching for salmon. Or paying a little more for locally produced tofu than conglomerate produced tofu. But in the long run, it helps preserve small businesses and help our immediate local communities. Which is always a good thing. So once again, I wish you and yours health, happiness and peace of mind in the Year of the Monkey. Shinnen, akemashite omedetou gozaimasu (Happy New Year)!

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the Univ. of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at gochisogourmet@yahoo.com.

Comments

  1. Josie King says:

    Yes, I support “buy local”!

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