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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aloha from Maui

Being a West Coaster, Hawaii is a favorite vacation spot, and I feel very fortunate to be going there again this year! Garry and I and two other couples are going to spend a week on Maui this month. One of my favorite parts of the Hawaiian vacation is the food (no surprise there, I guess).

When we arrive, I like to drive to the nearby Safeway and Star Markets in Lahaina and see how the produce looks. I always stock up on the local fresh fruits, like apple bananas, papayas, starfruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit and pineapples. There is nothing like tree-ripened fresh fruit to make you feel like you are in paradise.

If you’ve been to Hawaii, then you will probably remember the final leg of your vacation -- the conga line at airport security. You know what I’m talking about…

After you’ve passed your carry-on through the X-ray machine and taken off your tennis shoes, your belt, your watch, etc., you come to a second checkpoint where a couple of affable guys in Hawaiian shirts want to send your carry-on through one more scanner. “Why a second time?” you ask.

These guys are looking for fruit! I am embarrassed to admit that on one of my trips a few years ago, I had packed an apple and a banana, left over from our shopping. I didn’t want to waste any food, so I thought we could snack on the long plane flight home.

Those affable guys, in a very gentle but firm way, told me to dump the fruit. I was so embarrassed because as a long-time member of the produce industry, I, of all people should know that you cannot bring fruit from the Hawaiian Islands back to the Mainland (unless it is commercially packaged for sale at the airport).

Ever wonder why they make you dump the fruit? They are protecting Mainland agriculture. Believe it or not, those delicious tropical fruits could be hosts to the Oriental fruit fly and the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) and other pests, which may have planted larvae deep inside the fruit ( I know that sounds gross). When the fruit is broken, eaten, or thrown away in a trash can on the Mainland, the larvae can eventually make their way to farms and orchards where other fruits grow. Ask citrus growers and avocado farmers how devastating these pests can be.

Read more detailed information about agricultural pests and the problems with them here. But more importantly, think back to any trip to you have taken by car, plane or train. Have you ever inadvertently (or on purpose) smuggled in fresh fruit across a state border? You may have read or heard that these fruits are prohibited from crossing borders, but you said to yourself, “Oh, just one piece of fruit won’t hurt.”

Well, one piece of fruit WILL hurt. An entire industry. Which is why, at the peak of the summer months, I am reminding everyone to leave their fruit where it is.

And, if you are ever on Maui and want some great fresh fruit and an awesome meal, try my favorite: Mama’s Fish House on the north shore of Maui. After you watch all the surfers down the road (they are really amazing athletes), go to Mama’s for a tropical drink and an awesome meal. But, make reservations, because it is a popular spot.

Mahalo and Aloha!
Karen

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