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January 31, 2018

EAT THINK DRINK event generates healthy discussion of food sustainability

Categories: Food | Featured | Sponsorships

In a “tale of two bananas,” Hawaii students are told the contrasting stories of how two pieces of produce — one imported and another locally grown — arrive at the dinner table. The imported banana’s story rivals the Odyssey with harrowing experiences ranging from various, strange port stops to a chemical spray ensuring a fresh appearance upon arrival. By comparison, the story of the local banana is as appealing as it is simple.

Through relatable stories such as this, children most often arrive at their own “aha” moment about the benefits of choosing local, according to Kokua Hawaii Foundation co-founder Kim Johnson

Moderator Kimi Werner leads discussion of the role consumer behavior plays in growing an eco-conscious future. Panelists were (from left) JUCCCE Chair Peggy Liu, Kohala Institute Executive Director Noelani Kalipi, and Kokua Hawaii Foundation co-founder Kim Johnson.

Johnson shared her insights along with several other panelists at EAT THINK DRINK – Healthy People, Healthy Planet, the fourth event in the EAT THINK DRINK series that Ulupono was once again proud to support. This time the conversation focused on the symbiotic relationship between wellness and sustainability. In addition to supporting the Hawaii Agriculture Foundation, events like this have the ability to reach audiences who may not be familiar with local agriculture and its role in providing the food they enjoy. 

To kick the night off, Peggy Liu, chairperson of JUCCCE (Joint U.S.-China Collaboration for Clean Energy), an internationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to building a greener China, shared the success of a Shanghai-based initiative attempting to “bake into” China’s way of life – including food consumption behavior – a sense of balance. A program titled “Food Heroes” is the first food education program designed to integrate nutrition and sustainability, leveraging gamification to teach Chinese children how to eat in a way that is good for them and the planet. It’s important that children make an emotional connection, she said, since knowledge plus emotion equals action.

After a single class on “sneaky sugar,” one group of boys actually turned down cake, Liu explained. 

That’s no small accomplishment. 

U.S. national spearfishing champion Kimi Werner, an ambassador of Patagonia Provisions and a globally renowned advocate for sustainable food systems, later moderated the discussion of panelists who included Liu, Johnson as well as Noelani Kalipi, executive director of the Kohala Institute. The panel delved into the driving role consumer behavior plays in “growing an eco-conscious future.

Takeaways were that personal health is linked to environmental health, but also that it does not have to be a zero-sum game. It’s about elevating the journey, panelists agreed. 

Afterward, attendees celebrated Hawaii’s resources by partaking in local fare, including selections prepared by chefs Keith Pajinag of Ravish Honolulu at The Modern, Eric Oto of Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel and Resort, Lawrence Nakamoto of Mariposa’s at Neiman Marcus, and Troy Terorotua of BREW'd, with libations provided by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. A favorite among attendees, OnoPops’ organic popsicles had some attendees coming back for seconds … and thirds. 

The EAT THINK DRINK series was presented by Hawaiian Airlines and, in addition to Ulupono, supported by Alexander and Baldwin, FIJI Water, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, Honolulu Family, Honolulu magazine, Kamehameha Schools, Lendlease, The Modern Honolulu, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and Tossware. Previous EAT THINK DRINK events were:

Dirt to Plate, the series’ inaugural event. Attendees spent the night of the 2016 general election discussing the opportunities and challenges of building a sustainable food system for Hawaii.
School Lunch – Hawaii’s Farm to School Initiative. Held April 25, 2017, the event united leaders and policy makers in ag to share knowledge, experience and views on food and education as they examine meals served in school cafeterias. 
Show Me the Green – How to Access Capital and Move Your Project from Seed to Shelf. Held Aug. 28, 2017, this event brought together prominent restaurateurs and investment experts to explore what it takes to transform a local value-added product into the next big “Made in Hawaii” food project. Ulupono General Partner Kyle Datta offered his own expertise and insight about ag funding.

Ulupono Initiative has been proud to be among the supporters of the EAT THINK DRINK series, as the events promote our mission to support a self-sufficient Hawaii in the areas of locally produced food; clean, renewable energy; and better management of water and waste. For more information on series, visit the Hawaii Agriculture Foundation event webpage.

For more information on the Food Heroes program, visit: https://www.juccce.org/foodheroes