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New West Maui food co-op makes it easier to eat healthy

By Staff | Aug 18, 2011

It is indeed a frightening fact to take note of the skyrocketing statistics regarding obesity rates across the country and specifically here in Hawaii. Particularly for our youth, the number of overweight, unhealthy children is an alarming trend that has caught the attention of organizations such as the YMCA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These organizations have launched programs aimed at educating families and the general public about ways to a healthier lifestyle. Included here is particular attention to inform low-income neighborhoods — where obesity rates are inordinately high and portend a future of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes — of ways to infuse their diets with more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here on the home front, my wife and I make the effort to get our children to eat more fruits and vegetables for a healthier future, but sometimes it seems as if we are up against a tsunami of fast food and fatty choices. Our kids have become pros at cutting the vegetables we put on their plates into tiny pieces and spreading them around, so it looks like they’ve eaten some of them. They’ve also gotten Aki-da-dog to eat broccoli and Brussels sprouts — albeit by dousing them with shoyu and mayonnaise — with some very ingenious passing techniques under the table.

Seriously though — finding affordable and tasty fresh fruits and vegetables is indeed a daunting task, particularly in this day of worldwide economic stress. And despite the fact that we live in this tropical paradise with its ideal growing climate, most of us are challenged and unable to grow or find these fresh foods that we so desperately need.

But hope for healthier, holistic eating arises with concerned community advocates such as Wayne Nishiki and Kathy Corcoran.

Nishiki, the colorful character and former County Council representative from Kihei, for decades has been a leader in healthful, natural foods stores in Wailuku and here on the West Side. Today, he owns and operates the Farmer’s Market Natural Foods store in Honokowai that puts on a Maui grown open market three mornings a week.

Corcoran, on the other hand, is the Yang to Nishiki’s Ying. A gentle woman with a soft voice that mirrors her personality, Corcoran shares Wayne’s view of holistic eating to find overall health.

“When we look to nature, turning to plants and minerals, to pure foods that balance our bodies and spirits, honoring the cycles of nature, we can prevent disease from arising, and we can stimulate and accelerate our own healing if a disease comes,” she said.

“Every indigenous culture around the world knows this, including Native Hawaiians.”

To this end, Corcoran has started the Lahaina Buyer’s Club, a food co-op, to operate in a sustainable manner with this mission statement: “To provide for the basic needs of our members from as many local sources as possible, in ways that endure the test of time, while protecting the natural environment in which we live and supporting the host culture. Through our various projects, we strive to operate in a way that fosters health and bliss, hoping to inspire love for all creatures, encouraging respect for our natural environment, and providing experiences of joyful and loving healing.”

Our family has participated in the Lahaina Buyer’s Club co-op with their weekly “Bonanza Bags” of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables for over a month now, and we have enjoyed the variety and low cost of the program. Even Aki-da-dog is eating better!

This has been a wonderful find for us, as Lahaina Town has not had a natural foods store since 2004.

For more information regarding the Lahaina Buyer’s Club, call 661-1852.