Along a stretch of neglected pasture land bordering the highway, the castor bean plant fans out under the sun, nurturing poisonous clusters of small, spikey seed pods. Nearby, the Sacramento bur, not to be outdone by the castor bean, primes its own prickly, irksome burs for seed dispersion. Nasty as these two plants may be, neither can trump the ambition of the haole koa, a prolific roadside shrub distinguished by its flat, brown seed pods. Haole koa can thrive in the most depleted of soils, often reaching heights of 15-20 feet.
This scene is a nightmare to native plant enthusiasts, farmers, and highway maintenance crews alike. Whether bemoaned as an invasive species, a tenacious weed, or an obstruction to sight-lines, it’s easy to agree that these plants are a nuisance. There is someone, however, who sees things in a different light — someone who sees an all-you-can-eat feast where the rest of us just see problems. Enter our humble, hungry hero: the goat.
Recent elections on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island have shown that the public is wary of pesticide use. With the recent Ninth Circuit court ruling that all pesticide regulation must happen at the state level, individual islands have begun to look for ways to decrease their pesticide use at the county level. Translation? If an island can’t ban the use of potentially dangerous pesticides outright, they can at least advocate alternative, “green” practices in the county-run areas they do have control over- namely county parks and roadways.
On Maui, Autumn Ness, executive assistant to Councilwoman Elle Cochran, has been whittling away at the pesticide issue for years. In early 2017, Ness began a dialogue with a mainland non-profit called Beyond Pesticides, after reading that they had helped Reno, NV transition to pesticide-free city parks. It was Beyond Pesticides who suggested the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) could utilize a herd of goats to manage weeds along the highways.
Though the D.O.T. has used Roundup in the past to manage roadside vegetation, it’s been over two years since this pesticide was employed. Former D.O.T. Construction and Maintenance Superintendent for the Maui Highways Division, Steve Rodgers, discontinued the use of Roundup along roadways in 2015 after the D.O.T. received numerous complaints from the public, and one formal warning notice from the Department of Agriculture citing them for violation of pesticide law. Under Rodgers, the D.O.T. transitioned to using an organic pesticide called Avenger, and increased manual cutting/weed-whacking. When Rodgers retired, his duties were shifted to Donald Smith, who was the Maui District Engineer at the time. Smith largely continued along the trajectory Rodgers had set, and it was he who okayed a pilot program to test the viability of goat weeding.
Belonging to a subsect of herbivores known as browsers, goats prefer to eat the leaves, bark and new shoots of woody plants (as opposed to grazers like cattle, sheep, and horses which prefer to eat grasses). The goat’s digestive enzymes differ significantly from that of other livestock allowing it to eat many plants that are dangerous to other animals. Known to eat 25% of its body weight each day, the goat’s mighty appetite also marks it as a prime candidate for large scale weeding projects.
The idea of goats weed-eating the highway was clearly delightful, but was it practical? Beyond Pesticides donated a portable electric fence and paid for the services of Lani Malmberg, professional gypsy goat herder, but the project still needed a herd of goats to get going. Many island ranchers were unwilling to participate in the experimental project for fear of their goats’ safety, but finally a father and son pair, Paul and Kory Lopes, stepped forward with a 50-head herd.
Paul Lopes, an experienced Maui livestock operator, had used goats and sheep to clear pasture land for private projects many times before, so this wasn’t a new concept to him. He did have some reservations about browsing the herd so close to a busy road (citing theft as a primary concern), but after Malmberg assured him that she would personally reimburse him for any lost goats he agreed to rent the animals out for seven days.
With twenty-two years of goat herding under her belt, Malmberg was confident in her ability to keep the Lopes’ goats safe. Malmberg first learned about the weed-eating potential of goats while earning her Master’s Degree in Weed Science from Colorado State University. Under the business name of Goat Green, Malmberg and her herd of goats travel up and down the western half of the United States working on an array of environmental stabilization projects including reclamation and re-seeding of oil fields, fire and erosion mitigation, flood control, and, of course, weed control.
“A weed is just a symptom of an underlying problem,” Malmberg says. She explains that weed problems often have their roots in human behaviors, such as over-grazing cattle, or repeated chemical pesticide treatment. By using goats to eat the weeds she says she’s “applying a counterbalance to what caused the problems in the first place.”
Goats go beyond mere weed-eating; they also fertilize and aerate the soil, recycling nutrients back into the earth and leaving the land healthier than it was when they arrived. This cuts down on the amount of time and money that would go into amending the soil in preparation for new plantings. Goat weeding can even reduce future irrigation costs. “Organic matter is what holds water in the soil,” explains Malmberg. “For every 1% you increase the organic matter in the soil you can hold another 25,000 gallons of water per acre.”
Maui’s goat pilot program was a success. The herd ate all the targeted weeds, and even worked on some the cane grass within their enclosure. They did adjust to the nearby traffic and eventually became comfortable browsing right alongside the road. None of the animals escaped or came to any harm.
Autumn Ness explains that many of the weeds encroaching on our highways are tall, invasive species that easily grow to block sight-lines. “The long-term goal would be to have goats work on the same stretch of highway three times in one year and then have volunteers… go in and replant that area (because now the soil is fertilized and tilled) with a low-growing, sprawling native, and then the D.O.T. doesn’t have to worry about that, we’re taking it off their To-Do list completely! That’s the goal. The state highways could be native plant corridors throughout the islands.” It seemed we could be onto something.
And then – the Department of Transportation stopped cooperating. When Donald Smith moved on to a new post in the summer of 2017, Robin Shishido was appointed to take his place. Upon assuming control of the highway maintenance program, Shishido promptly ordered 42 gallons of Roundup with the intention of reintroducing the pesticide to the county roadways. At the time of writing, Shishido remains unsupportive of the goat tactic and will not allow this program to move forward within the D.O.T.
A SHIFT IN HOPE
Even with the D.O.T. withdrawing their support, all progress is not lost. In May of 2017 Beyond Pesticides visited Maui to lead a series of workshops focused on large-scale organic maintenance. Employees of the Maui County Parks and Recreation Department received training sessions to help them embark on a one-year, pesticide- free pilot program in four island parks. There is even some talk of using the goats within the parks. Another training, open to any interested landscape managers and staff of island resorts, golf courses, schools, apartments, and landscaping companies, was widely attended.
One such advocate of green practices at the corporate level is Duane Sparkman, Engineering and Landscape Manager of The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Sparkman began phasing out chemical pesticides at The Westin Maui in 2013 when the Coral Reef Alliance approached him with concerns about chemical runoff from the resort entering the ocean. Sparkman’s commitment to sustainability efforts has helped The Westin Maui emerge as a corporate leader in the integration of these organic methods, earning the resort an Ocean Friendly Business recognition from the West Maui Kumuwai. Practices include, recycling the resort’s green waste into mulch and compost, using more drought-resistant, native plants in landscaping, and utilizing only organic herbicides and pesticides.
Sparkman’s dedication to this issue has marked him as a valuable mentor within the local community. His experience dealing with these issues at a corporate level translates well to the county initiatives Beyond Pesticides has been facilitating, and he’s been assisting with the pesticide-free parks program. “The bigger picture,” he says, “Is to protect the environment and the people that live here… Maui County can become a pinnacle of organic applications and maintenance.” The Westin Maui serves as a shining example that these methods can see great success, even on a large scale.
The days of living in a segmented world driven by profit and the pursuit of individual goals must come to an end. A safe, weed-free roadway doesn’t do any good if the people who travel on it get sick from long-term exposure to Roundup. Earth, ocean, people, and plants, are all components of a whole, living system; there is no success for one at the expense of the others. A goat-based weeding program is exactly the type of symbiotic relationship that would honor this system and benefit all. One man’s weeds are another goat’s meal.
18 oz.Ball of Your Favorite Pizza DoughStore Bought or Homemade
3oz.BrieCut Into ½" Square Pieces
Chopped ½" Sliced Jalapeños Optional
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Kona Sea Salt
Heat your oven to 550 degrees with a pizza stone set on the middle rack.
Stretch pizza dough into a circle, 12” in diameter.
Leaving a ¼ inch border from the edge, drizzle the heavy cream with a spoon over the dough. Next, dollop spoonfuls of jam over the pizza dough, starting with one larger dollop right in the center. Sprinkle the bacon and jalapeno (if using) over the cream. Season lightly with kosher salt.
Slide the pizza dough onto the stone and bake until lightly golden on the edges.
Remove from the oven, top with the brie, and place back into the oven until the brie is slightly melted and the crust is a deep golden brown. Remove pizza from the oven and cut into 6 wedges. Top with fresh arugula, drizzled olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and Kona sea salt.
I learned two main things in culinary school: one, the importance of minimizing food waste (at the time, the focus was on cost – but now we know there are so many other good reasons!), and two, that soup is the easiest way to “make something out of nothing.”Note: I use an Instant Pot, but you could get the same effect with a regular pot and longer cooking time, or a stovetop pressure cooker. I tweak this recipe based on what I get from my Oahu Fresh box!
Author: Dabney Gough
3Tbsp.Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1SmallButternut SquashPeeled and Diced
5Cloves of GarlicSmashed, Peeled, and Trimmed
3Tbsp.Curry Powder or Other Spice Blend
4CupsDried Black BeansSoaked Overnight in Plenty of Water and Then Drained
Salt To Taste
Juice from ½ a Lemon
Heat an Instant Pot to “Sauté” mode. When hot, add the olive oil and onions and sauté until they start to turn golden.
Add the carrot, butternut squash, tomatoes, and garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes longer. Add the spice blend and sauté for 1 more minute, until fragrant and lightly browned.
Add the beans and water to cover by at least 1”, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover and seal the lid, and set the timer to cook under pressure for 25 minutes.
Once cooking has finished, let the pressure release naturally. Then season to taste with salt and lemon juice.
To serve, add a dollop of Sweet Land Farm goat cheese, a swirl of extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of hot sauce.
WRITTEN BY JON LETMAN PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF JOANN YUKIMURA
Japanese cuisine is famous for many things — sushi, sukiyaki, tempura — but breakfast isn’t one of them. That said, Japan’s first meal of the day is important, even in a country where people are so busy they sell a brand of chewing gum called “No Time” with a drawing of a toothbrush on the package.
And while busy office workers might make do with a hastily toasted thick, white slice of shokupan bread and a quick coffee on the run, a more traditional Japanese breakfast — the kind one might be served while visiting their grandmother in the countryside, or staying in a ryokan (Japanese inn) — is a delightful, even indulgent, epicurean affair.
The traditional Japanese breakfast revolves around a palm-sized bowl of steaming white rice accompanied by a rainbow’s worth of dishes offering protein (fish, tofu, egg), vegetables that could be stewed or blanched (spinach, pumpkin, cabbage) and a pickled component called tsukemono (pickled cucumber, daikon or other vegetables) or umeboshi (pickled plum).
At a minimum, a bowl of rice and miso soup with a few side dishes like natto (fermented soybeans), hijiki or konbu (sea vegetables) and condiments like nori (seaweed) or shoyu (soy sauce) make for a fine breakfast.
But how is the traditional Japanese breakfast interpreted in Hawai‘i with its large Nikkei (Japanese descent) population? On the island of Kaua‘i, one kama‘aina, JoAnn
Yukimura, recalls her own experiences growing up as a sansei — third generation Japanese- American. Yukimura’s father Jiro was born on Kaua‘i but lived five years in Japan during his childhood. Her mother, Jennie, was born on O‘ahu, and while her mom remembers eating dishes like ochazuke (leftover rice with green tea) or okayu (rice porridge), Yukimura herself grew up eating western style breakfasts— Kellogg’s corn flakes or oatmeal and papaya — in the 1950s.
“Everybody was trying to be really American,” Yukimura says. “It’s rooted in the history of the Japanese-Americans in Hawai‘i… There was that period when you didn’t claim anything Japanese,” Yukimura says. “There was this kind of racist hysteria that was going on… my parents really went through that.”
For that earlier generation, the World War II years were a dark period when people of Japanese ancestry had to suppress their roots and affinity for their own culture.
“During the war they kind of foreswore a lot of Japanese things… people were being imprisoned essentially,” Yukimura says, referring to the 110,000 Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned in internment camps scattered in remote, typically desolate stretches of the continental U.S..
Yukimura notes that many nikkei citizens in Hawai‘i were better off than those on the U.S. mainland who were forced to abandon their homes, their businesses — indeed, entire lives. Others, however, were imprisoned in Hawai‘i too. Yukimura’s father’s home on Kaua‘i was searched.
Years later, as a college student in California in 1969, Yukimura recalls feeling overwhelmed with the desire to study the Japanese language. At the same time, she began to gravitate toward the Japanese dishes she remembered her mother making for her when she was a child.
“There was this back to the land movement…macrobiotics, miso soup and Japanese cooking became of interest to me,” Yukimura says, recalling the letters she sent home asking her mother for this or that recipe. In time, Yukimura started making miso soup for breakfast based on her mother’s recipe.
Today Yukimura’s breakfast mainstay is miso soup and brown rice. She likes it because she can prepare several servings in one pot. “I’m always on the go (Yukimura, formerly the mayor of Kaua‘i [1988-1994], now serves on the Kaua‘i County Council) so I need to do something fast and easy — and healthy.”
She uses dashi konbu for soup stock, adding a few dried shrimp, wakame (seaweed), cubed tofu, carrots, daikon and, after the broth has boiled, she adds miso paste through a strainer and garnishes her soup with green onions.
To save time, Yukimura prepares her miso at night and then in the morning adds an egg which she poaches to go with her soup and brown rice which she calls the perfect soothing dish, especially when she’s feeling under the weather.
Yukimura says she’d like to make natto part of her breakfast routine, but admits it remains an acquired taste which she has gradually come to appreciate.
Speaking of the culinary customs she has adopted over the years, Yukimura says, “It’s grounded in the history of the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii.” Her own revival of a family recipe illustrates how a healthful, tasty Japanese breakfast can become a regular part of one’s morning. Key ingredients are readily available throughout Hawai‘i and in most American grocery stores or any market with an Asian foods section.
You can give your mornings a Japanese flare and keep it simple and relatively quick with the following:
Rice – typically short-grain white rice (or genmai brown rice)
Soft tofu (topped with diced green onion and soy sauce)
Tsukemono and umeboshi are easy to find in Hawaiian supermarkets
Lightly grilled dried fish (akule, for example) eaten with grated daikon and a splash of soy sauce
Raw egg is popular as a breakfast food in Japan. As an alternative, tamagoyaki is a thick, rectangular omelet which isn’t difficult to make if you have the right pan and get the technique down
Japanese can also be remarkably unorthodox when it comes to breakfast. You could microwave last night’s leftover gyoza dumplings, eat a tuna sandwich, grilled sausages, or even hot udon or soba if you have the time. Butter toast remains more common than waffles or pancakes but nothing can take the place of miso soup, a portion of fish, tofu and a bowl of steaming white rice.
A tasty, healthful and easy-to-prepare dish that goes well with a Japanese-style breakfast is called ohitashi. Chef Edwin Mizuno offers his own recipe: