The activists on Maui are at it again. This time they’re going after another long time farming endeavor on the island. HC&S is their target now, and they are determined to see this 150 year old Maui institution close its doors.
Sugarcane takes about 2 years to be mature enough for harvest. When the cane is ready to be pulled out of the field, a quick burn process (usually about 1 hour early in the morning) is needed to concentrate the sugars of the plant and remove leaves. This gives a far superior product to those that are harvested “green”, or unburned. (Here’s a good resource for questions about HC&S)
For those living near a field, you might get a little smoke drifting through your neighborhood for 1-2 hours during the burn. If you live VERY close, some ash falls on your lanai. How do I know this? I live in Kihei, very close to the fields. When we first moved here, I had heard about cane burning, but even when our realtor was telling us about it, I didn’t fully grasp what he was talking about. The morning of the first burn after we moved in, I realized this wasn’t that big of a deal. Yes, I needed to sweep my lanai off once or twice a month, but I need to do that anyway.
A few months after settling into our home I was having tea with a friend whos family has lived on Maui for many generations, and I apologized for a wet seat on the lanai. I had cleaned the cushions that morning (and they weren’t quite dry) so that we could enjoy the trade winds outside. She looked sideways at me and kindly asked, “Did you know about the burning before you moved here?” Well of course! Her next comment, “Don’t let me hear you complain about something you chose to live in.” I was a little baffled by the comment since I had only apologized for the wet seat. I asked why she seemed defensive about the topic. The gist of her answer: People move to the islands and complain about things that have been going on here for many many decades and then expect these things to change just for them. What right do they have?
This weekend I’ve been seeing an excess of negative posts online about HC&S. My friend’s comments keep echoing through my mind. Why did you move here? The loudest complainers are the same people that moved here recently to head up the ban on GMOs, and now they are dead set on changing another Maui staple. What gives them the right?
Do you build a house next to a pig farm and complain of the smell?
Do you move to Kailua Kona and yell about the vog wafting through your home?
Do you reside in Ka’anapali and grumble about tourists?
If you’re allergic to mango, do you move next to a mango farm and ask for the trees to be removed?
Would you buy a home in Kihei and complain about smoke?
Move to the end of a runway and complain about airplane noise?
How about a place near a cornfield, and then complain about pollen making you sneeze?
Two of Maui’s loudest protesters against all things agriculture:
The fact is, HC&S was here long before these activists. They planted their first sugar in 1870. Monsanto was in Kihei before Kihei was Kihei. When the seed companies started farming here in 1968, there wasn’t much more than the Suda Store. It wasn’t until the mid-70’s that resorts, condos, and homes started popping up left and right.
Every place I’ve ever lived has had its “thing”. It was cold in Iowa, and I like the heat. Northern California temperatures regularly hit 120 degrees in the summer, a bit too hot, even for me. St. Louis had its issues as did Oahu, but the fact is, I chose to live in those places. This time, I chose to plant myself in the middle of a cane field, and I have no right to grumble when a little ash falls. Neither do any of these activists that are hell bent on changing the very things that make this island beautiful and green.
In the words of my friend, “Don’t let me hear you complain about something you chose to live in.”