University of Hawaiʻi Press
Aya Hirata Kimura and Krisnawati Suryanata
In Food and Power in Hawaiʻi, island scholars and writers from backgrounds in academia, farming, and community organizations discuss new ways of looking at food policy and practices in terms of social justice and sustainability. Each of the nine essays describes Hawaiʻi’s foodscapes and collectively makes the case that food is a focal point for public policy making, social activism, and cultural mobilization. With its rich case studies, the volume aims to further debate on the agrofood system and extends the discussion of food problems in Hawaiʻi. Given the island geography, high dependency on imported food has often been portrayed as the primary challenge in Hawaiʻi, and the traditional response has been localized food production. The book argues, however, that aspects such as differentiated access, the history of colonization, and the neoliberalized nature of the economy also need to be considered for the right transformation of our food system.
The essays point out the diversity of food challenges that Hawaiʻi faces. They include controversies over land use policies, a gendered and racialized farming population, benefits and costs of biotechnology, stratified access to nutritious foods, as well as ensuring the economic viability of farms. Defying the reductive approach that looks only at calories or tonnage of food produced and consumed as indicators of a sound food system, Food and Power in Hawaiʻi shows how food problems are necessarily layered with other sociocultural and economic problems, and uses food democracy as the guiding framework. By linking the debate on food explicitly to the issues of power and democracy, each contributor seeks to reframe a discourse, previously focused on increasing the volume of locally grown food or protecting farms, into the broader objectives of social justice, ecological sustainability, and economic viability.