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Grassroots Concert Raises Money and Awareness

In a world full of fast-food, imported groceries and processed snacks, a Molokai organization is combating the food norm to promote eating local.

The concept of eating and buying local can be daunting but that hasn’t stopped The MOM Hui—and its grassroots network of like-minded advocates, farmers, vendors and ohana—from promoting sustainability, a healthy environment and a conscious lifestyle.

Hundreds of attendees gathered under a star-lit sky last Saturday to promote this vision at Duke Maliu Park for the second annual Grassroots Benefit Concert organized by The MOM Hui.

“I want the community to be conscious of the impact we can have on our environment through the choices we make, the food we eat, the way we decide to grow our food and how we take care of this environment,” said MOM Hui founder Mercy Ritte. “It’s all relative and related.”

Keiki participated in educational activities by sampling wheat grass, learning the importance of bee pollination, gardening and more. Molokai youth and statewide entertainers like I-land Flavah and Napua Greig performed numbers ranging from popular reggae tunes to songs that perpetuated the evening’s message.

“Eating local foods will build a stronger community,” said organizer Kealoha Hooper. “You keep it here, you keep it Molokai, you buy from here and build our community to make Molokai stronger.”

From venison burgers and lilikoi juice to homemade, brick-oven pizza, the food provided by local vendors featured locally-grown, non-GMO or organic ingredients. The MOM Hui provided vendors and the public with compostable paper plates, cups and utensils. Trash bins were distributed across the lawn for degradable plates and utensils or food waste, which will be taken to a local farm to feed pigs.

“If we can all collectively learn something and make small changes in our own lifestyle and with our children then maybe slowly it will spread and we can become a truly healthy Molokai island,” Ritte said “… It’s possible to feed our families healthy food with what we have on island.”

Giving Back

Besides being a night of ono grinds, sustainability and aloha, the benefit concert aimed to support local youth who plan to pursue a higher education in degrees focused on health, environmental studies or organic farming. The MOM Hui’s Ho`ola Hou Scholarship Fund, a community supported financial assistance program for Molokai High School (MHS) seniors, was funded by 100 percent of ticket proceeds.

Taylor Tamanaha, 2014 MHS graduate and scholarship recipient will attend Grand Canyon University to pursue a degree in pediatric nursing. She said the scholarship made college more affordable and took the stress off of meeting high tuition prices.

“It made me feel good to win the scholarship because I feel like I really earned it,” Tamanaha said. “I’m happy because I worked really hard for it and it’s a validation. The support feels like home.”

For Xrystina Bicoy, an MHS alumnus in the same class, the scholarship award “feels like your aina is your support group…it gives you a lot of pride for where you come from” she said.

Bicoy is headed off to the University of Wyoming this fall to pursue a degree in nursing.

“We’re all really thankful for this whole organization and we owe so much to them for supporting us and giving us this opportunity,” Bicoy said. “It’s a huge honor.”

Aloha Aina Message

The community-based event isn’t an anti-GMO campaign, but a movement to promote sustainability and Molokai-grown or sustainable products, Hooper said.

“This is not a local issue, this is a global issue,” organizer and MC Hanohano Naehu said. “Buying local is important because it all goes back to the message of the event, ‘aloha aina,’ that which feeds us. We [want to] be sustainable. We want to grow our own food, eat our own food, and then we know what is in it and where it comes from.”

Ritte said she hopes the concert will raise awareness, inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle and support a sustainable Molokai.

“I know we can’t be completely GMO-free or organic so for me it’s being aware of how our food is being produced and it’s all about educating one another,” Ritte said. “There are farmers that pay attention to the environment and really care about what they grow for the community.”


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