Ask the Mayor: Due to Rat Lungworm, Should We Only Buy Mainland Produce?
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.
Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.
Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.
Q: With all the fear surrounding the recent rat lungworm disease cases, many friends and family members I know have stopped buying and eating local produce. How is that affecting our farmers, and should we really buy only mainland produce now?
A: The recent cases are a sobering reminder that practicing basic food safety by everyone—every day—is important.
By all means, please do not stop buying and consuming local produce out of fear. It is not necessary or recommended to do so, and all it would take is for our farmers to go under to see our food prices skyrocket almost instantaneously.
Our local growers have already been taking a tremendous hit financially, but having conferred with the state Department of Health and other agencies about the importance of food safety and sustainability, it is critical that we continue to eat locally grown produce and wash all produce carefully before consuming, regardless of its origin.
It’s easy to forget that serious food-borne illnesses from mainland produce (and even imported seafood products) have also occurred, so whether you buy veggies from the mainland or from Kula, you should be washing all fruits and vegetables before eating them raw.