A Few Foodie Farm-fresh Faves

Just as I’m writing about our top five restaurant picks in this week’s “Tastes of Kauai” column, I’d like to share our top farm freshies here. The only problem is, I can’t settle on just five.

Since my husband, Dan, and I contributed our first article to this column for the June 2, 2011, issue of Kauai Midweek, we have been to more than 80 farms, and I just can’t pick favorites. Instead, I’m focusing on people who either make things with locally grown products or enable us to eat locally.

In 2013, there were six articles that stood out: Two featured food made with local products, three help people eat locally and one is just for beauty.

In the Jan. 23 issue of Kauai Midweek, I wrote about Janine Lynne of Black Dog Farms. Lynne became an ardent fan of organically grown food when her 4-year-old son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The cause was traced to pesticides from a nearby farm. Today, he is a healthy young man attending Kauai Community College, and produce from Lynn’s small farm is blended into a delicious line of hot sauces, spice blends and mustards. The only place you can get her products is at the Tuesday Waipa farmers market.

On March 27, I covered the seed exchange that happens twice a year. Coordinated by Regenerations International Botanical Garden, Kauai Community Seed Bank and Hawaii SEED, the event drew about 200 backyard gardeners and organic farmers. Some, such as Heaven on Earth Starts and One Song Farm, donated seeds or seedlings. Others, like myself, scooped them up and planted them at home. The seed and plant exchanges are timed to the spring and autumn equinox. For more information, visit ribg.org.

The April 3 issue showcased Elvrine Chow of Heavenly Hakus. Chow perpetuates this rarely seen Hawaiian art form by hand-picking flowers, leaves and seeds from her home garden, as well as from the gardens of family and friends, and makes head lei known as haku. Chow makes a haku for guests who are celebrating a birthday or anniversary during my food tours. I can say the haku are fresh and lovely, and her aloha is boundless. Every Saturday, she is at the Kauai Community Market demonstrating how they are made and she’ll even do special workshops. For more information, call 634-9999.

I go out of my way to buy local. Grocery shopping trips include the farmers market, health food store, Kojima’s for local, grass-fed beef and Foodland for fresh fish. On June 26, I covered the Kauai Grown program, an initiative of the County of Kauai and Kauai County Farm Bureau. The label easily identifies locally grown agricultural products and the food artisans, retailers and restaurants who use or sell them. I’m grateful for this program because that bright green logo has made my grocery shopping much easier!

Sometimes I get too focused on my work. I’ll write for hours before I notice lunchtime has come and gone. If I still have something to write, I’ll grab a bag of kale chips and a bottle of booch to get me through. I finally got to meet the maker when I covered Kauai Juice Co. for the Oct. 2 issue. Kristal Muhich is passionate about consuming vibrantly colored food and drinks. Her line of Kauai Kombucha (aka booch) is a rainbow of 11 fermented fruit drinks, most of which contain local produce. The kale is sourced from Waipa Foundation and the chips come in three flavors: Pesto, Vegan Gorgonzola (made with noni) and Chipotle. On Jan. 7, Kauai Juice Co. will have a grand opening at its store in Kapaa. Muhich will sell her kombucha and kale chips as well as cold-press juice to order and juice cleansing programs. For more information, visit KauaiJuiceCo.com.

On Nov. 13, I wrote about Da Food Chain, an online grocery store that offers organic fruit, vegetables and honey from Kauai Glory Farms, Rainy Day Farms, Rainbow Garden sprouts, Alohalani Farm, Wootens Produce of Kauai, Kauai Kunana Dairy and Durga Farms. It also offers Lotus Fudge, and kombucha and kale chips from Kauai Juice Co., and delivers to East side residents. The process is simple and user-friendly. Just go to the website and order what you want and it is delivered to your home. I love it! For more information, visit DaFoodChain.com.

We’d like to thank Kauai’s farmers, fishermen and ranchers for nurturing our bodies with nutrient-rich food, while caring for our greatest resources: the island and its people. It has been our pleasure to share your honest work with Kauai Midweek readers. We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.