Localicious Hawaii puts local on the table

tikis venison
March sales of Tiki’s Grill & Bar’s Maui Nui venison burger will benefit the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, as part of the Localicious Hawaii restaurant industry fundraising campaign.

“Local” and “farm fresh” are the buzzwords on high-end menus these days, and not everyone understands what the fuss is about. The best produce is almost always locally sourced direct from area farms.

But consider: Even with recent sustainability initiatives, 90 percent of the food eaten in Hawaii is still imported.

This was not the case in pre-contact Hawaii. Explorers found a self-sustaining population of 1 million people, roughly the same number that live here today.
In support of rebooting a self-sustaining food community, more than 260 restaurants and food and drink purveyors statewide——a record number——have signed up to participate in Localicious Hawaii’s March campaign to support agriculture in Hawaii.

Sales of Top of Waikiki’s Inter-Island Cruise cocktail will also benefit HAF.

From March 1 through 31, $1 from sales of each designated “Localicious” dish and drink on the restaurants’ menus will be donated to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, whose mission is to support and sustain Hawaii’s agricultural industry by addressing needs of farmers and by better connecting the farmers with the community.

Considering Hawaii’s lonely position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we experience resource scarcity more than other cities because most of the materials we depend on for housing and survival must be shipped in.

This weakness is evident in the rush for cans of Spam and bags of rice every time news of a coming tsunami, hurricane or dock strike breaks. It’s been reported that if ships stop coming, food supplies here would last no more than a week.

In order to survive–5,000 miles away from the nearest land mass–the only option for ancient Hawaiians was sustainability. With a knowledge of nature’s cycles, they created the ahupua’a system of land division and terraced gardens that took into account the interrelationship of elements in the natural landscape, such as how rain water flowed from mountains to sea, nourishing all in its path.

The wisdom of such a division is obvious when I watch the water runoff from rain, which doesn’t follow manmade roads, but the natural geography of the land in defiance of modern city planners.

Sustainability principles returned to the forefront of regional planning in 2005, when the state launched the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan (Hawaii 2050) to strike a balance among economic, social and community, and environmental priorities.

Hawai’i Green Growth also set targets in the areas of clean energy, local food, natural resource management, waste reduction and building a green workforce to create a more secure, sustainable economy for Hawaii by 2030, which includes doubling local food production to at least 20 percent of what we consume.

The Localicious Hawaii campaign was launched in 2014 to encourage more consumers to dine consciously and help create lasting, long-term support for the agriculture industry. Since its launch, Localicious has raised more than $170,000 to provide approximately 70 public schools and 200 classrooms statewide with garden kits and structured ag-related curriculums. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000, matching last year’s earnings.

“Each year, we continue to set the bar higher and, thanks to the support we’ve received from the community, deliver results that are above and beyond,” said Denise Yamaguchi, executive director of HAF.

To make the event more fun to share on social, Localicious has its own Alojamoji emojis available to download at the Apple App Store and Google Play, featuring Poki the pineapple and his food pals, available for posting with food pics.

Arancino di Mare’s breakfast focaccia alla carbonara with island eggs.

A sampling of Localicious menu items includes:

Angelo Pietro: Order their Rainbow salad of local greens, bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes. The restaurant is at 1108 12th Ave. C. Call 941-0555.

Arancino di Mare: Will be offering its breakfast focaccia alla carbonara ($11.95) with poached local egg, pancetta and Alfredo sauce. The restaurant is in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 2552 Kalakaua Ave. Call 931-6273.

MW Restaurant: Three-course set menu for lunch and dinner includes an appetizer trio, choice of entree, and dessert; at $27 and $60 per person, respectively. MW is at 1538 Kapiolani Blvd. Call 955-6505.

Top of Waikiki: Will be donating sales of its house salad ($12) and “Inter-Island Cruise” cocktail ($15), both featuring locally sourced ingredients. The salad features MA‘O Farms Sassy Mix and radishes, Ho Farms tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers with pomegranate vinaigrette and sliced almonds. The cocktail includes Pau vodka, Fid Street gin, Koloa rum, lilikoi, lemon and agave. Top of Waikiki is open from 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily at 2270 Kalakaua Ave., 21st floor. Call 923.3877.

Tiki’s Grill & Bar: Is serving a half-pound Maui Nui venison burger on taro bun. In the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, 2570 Kalakaua Ave. Call 923-8454.

For the full list of restaurants, visit localicioushawaii.com.

Courtesy Localicious Hawaii and Top of Waikiki