As mainland drought nudges prices up, more look at local produce - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

As mainland drought nudges prices up, more looking at local produce

With much of the mainland and Canada under some of the worst drought conditions in decades, many local farmers say they're having a pretty good year, even as some of them also weather some drought.

According to Tish Uyehara of Armstrong Produce, Hawaii gets up 60 to 70 percent from its produce from the mainland, most of it from the west coast. Because of the Midwest drought, there's more competition from the rest of the country for that west coast produce, so prices have already crept up five to ten cents a pound, and could go higher.

Fortunately, there's a higher percentage of local fruits and vegetables at this time of year. "During the summer we are blessed with a lot more produce being produced here, so not only just our pineapple and papayas, but we've also been having a lot of local melons, honeydews, different varieties of cantaloupes," said Uyehara.

Armstrong Produce has been supplementing their usual supply of greens with locally grown crops, including Romaine and other lettuces grown on the Big Island.

At the Blaisdell Center Farmers Market, dozens of people are getting meals from locally grown food, as well as the local produce.

"The last couple of months we've been a lot more busier in our markets, plus we've added a couple of new markets," said Dillan Hanawahine of Nalo Farms. "We added a new market at KCC (Kapiolani Community College" on Tuesday night, and those have really been a lot more crowded lately."

But parts of Hawaii have also been under drought conditions, including Leeward Oahu, where Naked Cow Dairy is located. It doesn't use corn to feed its cows, which is good, as corn crops have taken a huge hit in the Midwest Drought.

"We're trying to do all grass fed-cows, which has been hard lately because of the drought in Waianae," said Sabrina St. Martin, who owns Naked Cow Dairy with her sister. "Our grass is not growing, so we have to water it, so our water bill has been a little bit high lately. But normally we do have a little bit of pasture and grass for the cows."

Even so, Naked Cow Dairy and other local farmers we spoke to said they're trying hard not to pass along those additional costs to consumers. So while those prices aren't going up, local produce might be a consumer's best bet this summer while conditions remain dry on the mainland.

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