Tasting Kauai’s Main Ingredient
When people learn what I do for a living, their first response is something like, “Wow! That sounds amazing! You are so lucky to live in paradise and write about food!” And this is absolutely true, but it has nothing to do with luck.
For me, food matters beyond simple survival. In my world, it’s a sensuous pleasure that’s best enjoyed in the company of people I love. For me to really enjoy it, it has to be guilt-free. That means knowing how the food got to my table.
I care about the health of people who grow, cultivate, harvest and process food.
Whether my vegetables and oranges come by way of low-paid immigrants working in fields dusted with pesticides, or assembly line butchers using dull knives for hours at a time, it matters to me. I care about the lives of hundreds of thousands of chickens, pigs and cows living in cramped feedlots. I care that a deluge of their feces invades our land, streams and oceans. I’m fearful because ammonia emissions from feedlots contributes to haze and poses serious health threats, including respiratory distress, early death, cardiovascular disease and lung diseases. It makes me sad that our government subsidizes convenience and profit over health and pleasure. I’m heartbroken that the price of cheap food has enormous costs.
When I make time to mediate and listen to Spirit — my intuition, my inner voice — my work becomes clear. I act on Spirit’s answers with faith and create work that contributes to a healthier heart, community and world. This is why I do what I do. In essence, it’s Tasting Kauai’s main ingredient.
I believe good, clean food is a right, not a privilege. But instead of worrying about what’s wrong, I choose to focus on what’s right. I like to present information in an enjoyable manner, so people are inspired to make positive choices. My goal is to contribute to global food security and there are three ways I do that.
Cooking from scratch is a sensuous act of love. It doesn’t matter if I cook for myself, my family or a group of people. When I make fresh food from scratch, I am soliciting the senses by evoking taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. In addition, I supply nutrient rich food to my body and the bodies of my loved ones. If my ingredients come from local farmers and businesses, they are more nutritious and cost effective, and I support my community while reducing the carbon footprint. When I buy organic, or grow my own food, I mālama ‘āina. When I post recipes on our blog, I hope that you cook them for the ones you love.
Our restaurant guidebook to Kauai helps readers choose restaurants that make fresh food from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible. I write profiles about the cooks and chefs, their passion and how that shows up in their food. My goal is to make it easy to eat well on the Garden Island.
Farmers markets on Kauai are intimidating. So I guide a tour every Wednesday and introduce farmers, demystify exotic ingredients and offer cooking tips. Typically, customers want year-round access to things like tomatoes, pineapple and mangos. I explain what’s in season, which is the best way to protect against buying big warehouse produce from vendors at the farmers market.
Michelle Lemay guides four food tours. We’ve deliberately chosen restaurants that are in our book so guests, who gallivant around the island tasting their way through our island’s culture, can meet some of Kauai’s top farmers and chefs.
After making connections, people feel like insiders and usually become regular customers. These connections foster food security on Kauai.
I know there are many things to protect in this world. Some people are called to heal, some are called to advocate for human rights, others work toward animal welfare. My calling enables me to seek those who grow and prepare food sustainably, and share them with others. This is how my heart, community and world are nourished. This is Tasting Kauai’s main ingredient.