Near and Far 2022: Cool Ideas, Hot Food

Meet the Speakers

Helena Norberg-Hodge: Localism Only

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“For most of our time on this planet we lived in collaborative, intergenerational communities deeply connected to the land and the waters that sustained us."

O‘ahu’s farmers’ markets are booming, with lines for locally grown produce sometimes as long as those for hand-pulled noodles. Yet, Hawai‘i’s food system is broken, according to a Civil Beat article highlighting the state’s lack of support for farmers and other obstacles to island food security. While it seems we are rolling in kale and ulu, the majority of residents still buy imported produce from supermarket chains—because it’s what we can afford.

At Near and Far 2022: Cool Ideas, Hot Food, Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of the nonprofit Local Futures, will open the conference with a talk (via video) about how there is a better economic way through localism. She will also take questions live later in the program.

“We human beings didn’t evolve for a hyper-individualized, competitive way of being,” she says in the new Local Futures–produced documentary Planet Local: A Quiet Revolution. “For most of our time on this planet we lived in collaborative, intergenerational communities deeply connected to the land and the waters that sustained us. This is why you can now see across the world people have been pushed into this unnatural highrise way of living, disconnected from each other and from the earth. They are now developing a natural and almost biological hunger for community and connection to nature.”

A linguist by training, the Australia-based Norberg-Hodge advocates for what she calls “economics of happiness,” a system that takes into account the cost of environmental damage for products shipped over long distances; and values intangible benefits like community.

Her vision started in Ladakh, a region in northern India where she went in the 1970s for a project. She was able to experience the area and its people before the global economy destroyed the local economy. Norberg-Hodge saw firsthand how a system of economic growth works against the interests of people and nature. “We’ve all played a part in contributing to the system,” she points out. “Key today is that we build a worldwide localization movement.”

According to Local Futures, localization over globalization—moving from dependence on global corporations toward local and regional economies—is the path to humans being the solution, not the problem.

Because of globalization’s trade agreements, our food travels thousands of miles. It is redundant trade—in 2020, Germany was the world’s second largest importer of milk and the world’s second largest exporter of milk. That same year, the US imported $3.5 billion worth of beef while simultaneously exporting $3.75 billion worth of beef. Global trade rules encourage this wasteful practice, needlessly contributing to the climate crisis.

Agriculture uses half of all habitable land, so a shift from global monocultures to localized diversified food systems would literally transform the face of the earth.

That global food system, from farm to table, is responsible for around 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Corporate farming also wastes one-third of all the food it produces. On the other hand, studies show that smaller-scale, diversified farms are five times more productive than industrial monocultures. Local food outlets—like farmers’ markets and independent operations such as Kokua Market—also have the potential to create more jobs than supermarket chains, and keeps money in the local economy.

Governments on the left and the right roll out the red carpet for corporate giants, freeing them from regulation and paying taxes, and subsidize expansion of globalizing infrastructure. At same time, citizens, small businesses, and even national industries are squeezed for taxes and burdened by red tape and bureaucracy. That is why products from the other side of world generally cost less than local products. It’s why the Chinese parsley grown 10 miles away from your apartment costs a dollar more than the stuff flown in by Safeway.

“The problem isn’t so much about evil greedy people in charge,” says Norberg-Hodge. “It’s more about a lack of awareness, about ignorance, from grassroots to the pinnacle of power. This is actually good I many ways, because the antidote to ignorance isn’t complicated. It’s about raising awareness.”

Local food systems are critical to restoring environmental health, building community, and creating an economy that works for all. “Chefs, food producers, and purveyors are vital to the localization movement,” she emphasizes. “Food is the only thing human beings produce that we all need every day. Shifting that food economy is the most important thing we can do.”

She underscores that as an archipelago, Hawai‘i is even more urgently in need of rebuilding its local food economy. It is not impossible—in the 1960s, the state was still producing 50 percent of its food.

At Near and Far 2022, find out from Norberg-Hodge why knowing your story is so important to moving localization forward.

Bryan Mayer

Maui Nui Venison & Savory Institute - Land to Market

Bryan Mayer is with Maui Nui Venison and is at the forefront of the craft butchery movement. He has lectured and conducted workshops with the James Beard Foundation, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, American Grassfed Association, American Lamb Board, Culinary Institute of America, and Savory Institute, in addition to his consulting work with farmers, slaughterhouses, and processors, throughout the US and the world.
Bryan has been featured in and written for Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Esquire, Men’s Health, and appeared on Tasting Table, Eater, Jezebel, and the Rachel Ray Show. He wrote the “Ask Your Butcher” column for Zero Point Zero’s Food Republic.

Pomai Weigert

AgBusiness Marketing Consultant with GoFarm Hawaii

Pomai Weigert is an AgBusiness Marketing Consultant with GoFarm Hawaii, a statewide program that develops new farmers & provides business support for ag-related businesses. She serves as an advisor for the Hawaii Agritourism Association and is a board member for the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii and Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. She is currently on the Hawaii Tourism Authority Destination Management Action Plan steering committees for Maui & Hawaii Island and works in partnership with HTA & County governments to develop agritourism capacity for the state.

Dave Evans, PhD, CHIA, CHE

Professor and Department Chair Hospitality and Tourism Education Department Kapi‘olani Community College

Dave Evans has been working in the travel and tourism industry for more than four decades and has been in higher education at Kapi‘olani Community College since 1994. He started his career managing hotels and held many key hospitality roles at Outrigger Hotels and Robert’s Hawaii, serving as a general manager, director of operations, and director of marketing for a national franchise operation.

As a professor, and now department chair at Kapi‘olani Community College’s hospitality and tourism education department (HOST), Evans has taught a wide range of courses related to destination development, hotel operations management, revenue management and strategic leadership. The HOST program emphasizes the importance of regenerative tourism with a specific focus on perpetuating indigenous cultures unique to destinations.

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Local Futures Institute, founder

Linguist, author, and filmmaker Helena Norberg-Hodge will share her ideas about localism and her vision for an “economics of happiness.” Hodge is also the founder of international non-profit organization Local Futures, a pioneer of the new economy movement and will speak about revitalizing cultural and biological diversity and strengthening local communities. Her latest book is Local is Our Future: Steps to an Economics of Happiness.

Dabney Gough

Director of Engagement, Farm Link Hawaiʻi

Dabney Gough oversees marketing, customer support, and community partnerships at Farm Link Hawaiʻi, an online portal that connects local growers and buyers via their innovative online marketplace and supply-chain infrastructure, making it easy for Oʻahu families to discover and purchase local food. Gough has held marketing leadership positions at Whole Foods Market, San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market, and Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Mike Pollard

Owner, Honoka’a Chocolate

Mike Pollard and his wife Rhonda moved to Hawaii from Southern California over a decade ago. Mike grew up in central California on his family’s farm. Upon graduating high school, his dad, Ken, proposed that he either take over the family farm or attend college. Mike chose the college route and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Having worked in aerospace and defense for most of his career, Pollard most recently was a Senior Engineer at the W.M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island. Returning to his farm roots however, Pollard and his wife purchased Kahi Ola Mau Farm, and over the course of five years, turned it into the beautiful place that it is today and started making delicious chocolate. Now Mike flies his dad to Kahi Ola Mau Farm twice a year for special projects that require his ‘expert’ touch.

Kevin Yim

VP of Marketing, Zippy’s

Kevin Yim is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications for FCH Enterprises, the parent brand of Zippy’s Restaurants and its affiliated companies. Prior to Zippy’s, he led marketing teams at other iconic Hawaii brands, such as Hawaiian Airlines and Bank of Hawaii.

Adam Watten

Director of Food Systems, Common Ground / Culinary Manager, CG Ventures

Committed to building robust local food systems, Adam Watten is an expert in vertical supply chain integration and product procurement. As an entrepreneur and Executive Chef he brings decades of experience in the food industry to the Common Ground team. His expertise in vertical supply chain integration is evidenced in his founding of Hanai Market, a local food retail outlet that exclusively sold Kauai-grown and Kauai-made products to the local market.

Ryan Ozawa


Ryan is a native Hawaiian journalist, writer, and startup founder based in Honolulu. With over 25 years of experience in making media, Ozawa is a regular contributor to every major media outlet in the Aloha State, explaining and promoting local technology and innovation. He is a tech columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and he publishes Hawaii Bulletin, a Meta-funded newsletter. An independent business and technology consultant, he is also the Pacific News Editor for Decrypt, a Web3 news outlet. At the University of Hawaii, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Ka Leo O Hawaii, the then-daily campus newspaper.

Kūhiō Lewis

CEO, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

A graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi Kūhiō Lewis is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA). Under Lewis’ leadership, CNHA expanded its services to the Native Hawaiian community and the broader public through the establishment and administration of the Hawaiian Trades Academy, the online marketplace Pop-Up Mākeke, the KūHana Business Program, and nationally-recognized emergency rental and mortgage assistance programs. Lewis has grown CNHA’s annual budget to $90 million and oversees over 100 employees statewide. CNHA was recently awarded a $100 million multi-year contract to boldly transform Hawaiʻi’s chief economic driver, tourism, towards a regenerative model.

Ed Kenney


Hawaii chef/restaurateur, founder of FoodShed Community Kitchen which provides incubator kitchen space for small local food-centric businesses and host of PBS Food’s national food/travel/genealogy series, Family Ingredients.

Alan Wong


Wong is one of 12 co-founders of Hawaii Regional Cuisine who collaborated together over three decades ago to create and promote a new American regional cuisine, highlighting Hawaii’s locally grown ingredients and diverse ethnic styles. In 1996, Wong was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest and Santé Magazine honored him as Chef of the Year in 2007.

Helena Norberg-Hodge: Localism Only

Food Entrepreneur

Katie Chin left a career as a Los Angeles film and TV marketing executive to follow in the culinary footsteps of her mother—creator of the Minnesota Chinese restaurant chain Leeann Chin. Today Katie is a food entrepreneur, the author of five cookbooks, owner of Wok Star Catering, and makes frequent TV appearances (Live with Kelly & Ryan, The Real, The Today Show, ABC’s Localish). She livestreams Cooking with Katie and Becca on Facebook with her daughter every Sunday and will soon take her talents to the stage with the one-woman show Holy Shitake: A Wok Star is Born.

Katie is the co-chair of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s #AAPILA Task Force.

Jeremy Umansky

Chef, co-author Koji Alchemy:Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation

Chef/owner of Larder: A Curated Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio, nominated by the James Beard Foundation as the Best New Restaurant in America in 2019. He was named “The Deli Prophet” by Food & Wine in the March 2019 Makers Issue.

Rich Shih

Koji explorer, co-author: Koji Alchemy:Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation

One of the leading culinary explorers of koji and miso in the United States and an in-demand food preservation consultant. He is also the Exhibit Engineer for the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) based in New York City.

Eric Kim

New York Times journalist, author: Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home

Kim was previously the digital manager at Food Network and a senior editor at Food52. He now hosts regular videos on NYT Cooking’s YouTube channel. A former contributing editor at Saveur, Kim also taught writing and literature at Columbia University, and his work has been featured in The Washington Post, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine.

Tu David Phu

Chef, filmmaker: Bloodline

From the kitchens of Chez Panisse and Daniel back to finding his roots in the first tastes of his mother’s cooking, Chef and filmmaker of Emmy-nominated Bloodline, Tu David Phu shares about his food journey and the importance of knowing who you are and where you came from. His family has produced small-batch artisanal Phu Quoc Fish Sauce, considered the Champagne of fish sauces, since 1895.