Getting Paid To Get Fresh

Seeing people eating fresh produce makes Earl Kashiwagi smile

By Earl Kashiwagi
President Esaki’s Produce

Tell us about your business. We’re a produce distributor or forwarder located in Kapa’a. We’re basically here to see that all of the people on Kaua’i can get any type of produce that they want from any place in the world. We deliver to businesses like Costco and all of the big hotels, as well as have new accounts like the Kukuiula Club all the way to the old accounts like Ishihara Market, the Sueoka Store and Kojima’s. A lot of people look at wholesalers, distributors and forwarders as the middleman, but I think every single person between the root and the spoon is a middle person – from the airlines to what have you.

Where does all the food come from? It comes in interisland, from the Mainland and worldwide. And now as we enter the winter season, nothing’s growing on the Mainland, so it’s all from Mexico, Chile, Brazil or New Zealand.

Has there been a greater demand for organic produce recently? There has been, but the shelf life sometimes is so short on organic compared to the other produce. It’s because everything is raised naturally without much preservative-type fertilizers and chemicals. What we’re trying to do over the course of the years is not to handle too much of what you call genetically modified produce. Because what we’re trying to do is get the hybrids or pure line of products like what your Mommy, Daddy or Grandpa or Great-grandmother had – a pure strain of product. One example of a GMO product is corn. It has no worms; it’s all nice and clean. But you know the bugs are not going through that corn for a reason.

What is the most challenging aspect of your business? No. 1, we’ve got to keep the bees in business because without the bees, we’ll just be having wheat and flour and all of these products that are not pollinated. All fruit and vegetables like lettuce are pollinated. People need to realize that America was based on farming. It wasn’t based on casinos, it wasn’t based on hotels or computers, and it was based on the Earth. If America is going to forget that, they’re going to forget the basis from which our nation grew. If we’re going to forget that’s where our roots came from and how America became successful, then I think that’s going to be the end of our nation and businesses like mine. But on a day-to-day basis, the biggest challenge with produce is trying to figure out what people are going to eat and how much they’re going to eat. It’s really a casino of produce, fruits and vegetables we go through every single day. And we have to second-guess what people will want, not for tomorrow, but we put in these orders two weeks in advance.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business? The best rewards are seeing people eat fresh produce in a world that’s free from famine. One of the greatest rewards is seeing a fresh world. I’ve got nothing against fish, pork and beef, but I think fresh produce is great for every-body’s diet. It keeps the public fresh – in looks and attitude.

How do you define success? If Esaki’s Produce can go on to the next generation, thrn this business can survive.

What makes you get up and go to work every day? The staff – we’ve got some of the greatest employees here. They’re dedicated to the produce world and they want to see people happy on Kaua’i.

4780 Kahau St. Kapa’a 822-7722

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