Food for thought

Text Kelsey Amos

Within my particular world-bubble it feels like everyone is going a little crazy. I certainly am. Part of it is the endless social media chatter: misinformation spreading, exposure to people’s trauma playing out in real time, trolls and mean-spirited comment wars.

Lately, I prefer Instagram because I’ve customized my feed to bombard me with beautiful images of people I know and don’t know who are doing good things: planting gardens, revitalizing wetlands, being body positive, celebrating empowered birth, cooking wonderful food, caring for and educating youth, and on and on.

Internet activism gets a lot of criticism, and rightly so. Getting likes doesn’t change the world, and escaping to fantasy feeds doesn’t help anyone. But if images we see on social media can trigger our imaginations and reassure us that the world we want is already here in bits and pieces, then I think there is some value in that. In disappointing times, reminders of what we cherish can be important.

So, with an ambivalent holiday approaching (Thanksgiving is extra outrageous this year, as Indigenous peoples face off against a pipeline at Standing Rock), I thought I’d attempt to make Thanksgiving mean what I want it to mean—not gluttony and forgetting but appreciation and remembering. Daily posts on my Instagram of locally grown foods are my way of highlighting abundance and appreciating the foods, farmers and knowledges held that keep us healthy and safe.

​Apple bananas

The stickers on these say Waimānalo. I grew up eating huge, delicious apple bananas from a patch in our yard that we got as a keiki from my grandparents' house. We had so many that my mom would stick chop sticks in them and freeze them as "popsicles." We had to cut that patch down, but I will always remember them.


An ideal food, IMO (how the cool kids say "in my opinion"). I feel very thankful to be able to regularly eat cage-free eggs from Māʻili. They really do have darker yokes, harder shells and a richer taste. Follow the link for a cute video by HawaiiIRL with the shaka moa egg farmer.

Kiawe flour

The kiawe tree, also known as mesquite, produces a sweet yellow pod that a group called ʻAi Pohaku mills into a flour that is diabetic-friendly. I buy my supply of their flour from Kokua Market. It’s the secret ingredient in the muffins I sometimes bake. I am thankful for kiawe flour, and how it has given me the gift of hearing people say to me, “These are GOOD muffins! You baked these??”


Of course, I am thankful for poi, how it tastes like a clear stream when fresh and how it wakes up your tongue when sour. I’m especially thankful that people have carried on the knowledge of how to take care of this food/family member. This is an act of cultural persistence that is more profound than I can explain in an Instagram caption! For a concise yet impactful rundown, I’m linking to the blog that inspired me to make poi and kalo in general a bigger part of my life in support of Hawaiian resurgence.

Collard greens

Can’t forget about my greens. I am thankful for these collard greens, as well as for all the locally grown chard, kale, bok choy, choy sum, watercress greens, varieties of lettuce, mizuna, arugula and salad mixes. It’s not easy to see the logo, but these are from MAʻO Organic Farms.


Thank you for radishes. I realize that some of you may not be fully on board with this one. What can you do with a radish? Turns out—everything! My favorite is the lightly pickled red radish with green tops tsukemono my grandma makes as a rice topping.


I am thankful for Small Kine Farms mushrooms. Advice from a tree: When you fall down, grow mushrooms.

Local milk

I am thankful for local milk, even though sometimes it’s hard to keep sight of thankfulness in a reality where nothing is perfect or pretty. Reading through articles from the last few years, I get the sense of a whole micro politics of painful choices, changes, power, and distrust. There are only 2 dairies left on the Big Island, and they’re both struggling to compete with the low cost of imported milk. One is locally owned and taking hard hits, while the other is Idaho-owned, innovative, and stepping on toes. One thing that might help is a plan to build a processing facility that would free one or both dairies from having to sell at lower prices than they can afford to Meadow Gold. Meanwhile, plans for a grass-fed (so no imported feed) dairy on Kauaʻi are up against neighbors’ concerns about smell and environmental impact.

Local butter

In happier dairy news, I am thankful for Naked Cow butter. What would I do without it? How would I bake anything buttery and delicious??


I am thankful for purslane, a really delightful “weed” that can thrive without my attention in balcony pots and tastes really great chopped up in an omelette or scramble. It is scary to think of the not-eating-enough-vegetables guilt I’d be carrying around if not for purslane being there, so ready, so edible.


I’m thankful for local honey, and also for the bees and beekeepers who are protecting them.


I am thankful for water and all those who protect and care for it. I am saddened and angered on behalf of water stolen, water poisoned, water disrespected—on the earth and in our bodies. If we are capable of doing these things to our water, no wonder we are capable of doing the same to ourselves and others. Thank you to protectors who show us another way is possible. Learn more and donate.


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