Balancing past and present to create a healthier community

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Health is wealth. And without that we just can’t function properly. And it’s clear for our people that unfortunately, we do end up having a lot of health issues.

A lot of it comes down to lifestyle. We know that it’s the food that we intake, it’s the lives that we live. We don’t always get the proper amounts of sleep, we have stresses at work, and it’s very different from what prior generations have had to deal with.

In generations past, some of us were fishermen, some of us were farmers. And our food was a lot more basic, it was cleaner. And we didn’t have certain things like all this meat, like cattle which does affect your health.

Today, the less healthy option is often more affordable than the healthier option, or a fresher option. It might be more affordable to purchase a candy bar versus an apple. And between the two, the candy bar is probably not the best choice.

Our challenge today is to find a balance and routines that enable a cleaner, or more well-rounded, colorful diet. Physical activity is also very important. Sometimes when I do have some rare downtime, I take the opportunity to go walk up the stairs, stroll with a friend or go walk the dogs. And after a few days, it becomes like a hobby, a new lifestyle.

My professional background is in government, public relations and marketing, but some of the work I’m most proud of is my work combining agriculture and education. I worked with the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation to teach children where their food comes from, the importance of agriculture, and that it is a viable and good industry to enter. We worked in public schools to provide opportunities for students to plant seeds and to visit farms. And for some students, it would be the first time that they would experience that part of nature and our food system. Teachers shared with me that it was a favorite part of the school day for their students. And one keiki shared with me how, because of the program, they had been teaching their parents, grandparents, and their siblings about what they had learned. They started a garden at home and were proudly incorporating homegrown vegetables into their meals.

There are many avenues for us to pursue to build a healthier community, and many sources that we can pull from. We can pull from Western sources, Eastern sources, and also the incredible richness of our culture. We can bring all of these pieces together to create a healthier future for our lāhui.