Digesting A Year Of Ingredients

On January 1st, 2018 I took on a personal project called “The Year Of Ingredients.” The goal was simple, find 365 ingredients grown in Hawaii.

I chose Instagram as my platform for the challenge. My job was to post an image of an ingredient every day with a caption of what it was and how to cook with it.

Learn more, about what inspired me to do this, here.

The ingredients could come from anywhere in Hawaii. They did not have to be organic, they just needed to be locally grown or produced with local ingredients.

year of ingredients
North Shore potatoes, raw honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Co., Banana Gabe’s banana bounty at the Variety Showcase

I gained a lot from this project: I got to form relationships with the people who grow my food, I learned about ingredients I had never seen or heard of before, I discovered local markets like The Locavore Store, and toured farms that often aren’t open to the public. Not to mention, establishing a daily writing routine.

Sometimes on tough mornings (last year was not the easiest) writing my daily Year Of Ingredients post was the only thing that motivated me to start my day. 

year of ingredients
Escarole, Mohala Farms

By completing this project I  found that there are way more than 365 ingredients growing in Hawaii. We can grow practically anything here with the right location and a strong enough desire. More small farms are stepping up to this challenge every day. Crops like peppers, once notoriously difficult to grow, are popping up at farmers markets and in locally made hot sauces in all kinds of varieties. 

year of ingredients
Counter Culture Farm

The Year of Ingredients took me on an epic culinary journey this year.

I’ve enjoyed hanging with the farmers, working the Go Farm program in Waimanalo, sampling ingredients ripped right out of the ground in front of me. Bryan and Natalie from Dela Mesa Farm, Priscilla from Vida Farm and Jacey and Miles from Roots and Remedies Farm have been amazing. 

farms and produce
Jay Bost (Go Farm), farmer’s market produce, Roots & Remedies Farm

I learned about new crop varieties being developed to thrive in Hawaii’s growing conditions at The Variety Showcase. I toured Ma’o Farms, spent hours photographing flowers and kale at Counter Culture Farm, learned about canoe plants at the Manoa Heritage Center,  attended farm-to-table dinners at Mohala Farms, sourced ingredients from all corners of the island from my laptop thanks to Farm Link and tasted freshly harvested honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Company. I’ve also learned about the struggles of processing meat and raising chickens in Hawaii and the need for harvesting wild deer and boar to help manage invasive species.

year of ingredients
Kahumana Farms radishes, Priscilla from Vida Farm harvesting puntarelle, Mangos from Kahumana Farm hub, Bryan showing us huitlacoche at DeLa Mesa Farm
Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers, fisherman and small business owners generously shared their bounty and knowledge with me. They are some of the kindest,  smartest and most humble people I’ve ever met. Their dedication to nurturing the land and waters of Hawaii goes beyond simply talking about sustainable practices, it is their life’s work. Getting to know them and their stories has been the most rewarding part of this experience. 
year of ingredients
Locally caught fish from Ashley at Local’Ia,

After a year of hunting I now have a good understanding of what ingredients are available locally in Hawaii and where to source them.  Most of all, I have an insurmountable feeling of gratitude for the people who grow them.

The Year of Ingredients has inspired me to know end.

I hope it did for you too.

year of ingredients
Ma’o Farms at the market and in the field

To see the complete project visit @yearofingredients on Instagram.

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