By Léo Azambuja

Kapaʻa Sunshine Market. Courtesy of kauaigrown.org

Kapaʻa Sunshine Market. Courtesy of kauaigrown.org

You are what you eat. So eat local, and you’ll see how fast you’ll become a local. True dat, really.

And I don’t mean eating Kahlua pig, chicken lau lau, lomi lomi salmon, opihi, poi, saimin, raw fish and da kine dis and dat (though I encourage eating all of it). I mean eating locally grown produce, locally caught seafood and locally raised livestock.

But before you eat local food, you’ve got to buy it somewhere, right? That is, assuming you don’t grow your own food. So, for the average citizen, buying local food means, most of the time, going to farmers’ markets. This alone has a practical effect in stamping a local label on you. In no time, you’ll see yourself defending and promoting all things local.

Even if you were born elsewhere, and you’re occasionally called a haole, a foreigner in Hawaiian, shopping through local farmers’ markets will in many ways instill in you a sense of belonging to this island.

Here’s the breakdown.

Kauaʻi Community College Sunshine Market. Courtesy of kauaigrown.org

Kauaʻi Community College Sunshine Market. Courtesy of kauaigrown.org

If you go to the Sunshine Market in Kapa‘a, you park your car a block or two from the market, because it’s crowded, very crowded. Then you get a darn good workout by walking — more like hiking — from your car to the market. Just like old Hawaiians used to hike to grow, gather or barter food. Yes, you’re walking through asphalt, pot holes, then grass, mud, puddles, more pot holes, more puddles. It’s no hiking trail, but it sure feels like one.

Let’s face it, it’s fun to buy at a farmers’ market. You shop around for cheaper produce, and then you try to negotiate a cheaper price. It’s almost like buying stocks, with the difference that you won’t go poor or rich, and you can actually eat what you buy. Got that? You’re eating a product of the very land you live. It’s the island nursing you with real food.