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Posted: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 8:45 AM HST

County completes first in state food baseline study

By Ken Hupp - 67AM KPUA News

Hawai`i County has taken the first step toward greater self-reliance by completing the state’s first ever Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study. The report estimates the percentage of different foods that are produced and consumed locally and maps out where crops are currently grown on the island, using satellite imagery and cross-checking with farmers.

“This is what we need to move forward in a very strategic, tactical way,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “How do we care for ourselves, how do we feed ourselves, how do we keep agriculture a very important part of our economy going forward ?”

Highlights reveal that the island produces virtually all the milk it consumes and more than 17 percent of its beef, but it imports virtually all its chicken and eggs. Despite vast macadamia nut orchards, the study estimated that less than 5 percent of nuts consumed on the island are macadamias.

The study, commissioned by the county for $65,000, was produced by the University of Hawaii at Hilo's Geography and Environmental Studies Department in partnership with the Hilo-based firm Island Planning. Consultant Jeff Melrose said its intended to create a more profound, more useful conversation on the topic.

“This island has a very important role to play,” Melrose said. “But we need to play it knowing what’s going on.”

The study also lists "100 Ways to Increase Food Self-Sufficiency and includes a local take on the traditional food pyramid, dubbed the "My Eat Local Hawai‘i Plate"

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