This initial phase of the Hawaii Food System Metrics Initiative came into being thanks to the collaborative leadership of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Chairperson, Scott Enright, and Ulupono Initiative.

The immediate goal of the project was to help provide elected officials with more meaningful information for data-driven decision-making to help reduce Hawaii’s dependency on imported foods. The data is also of benefit to farmers to help better identify business opportunities.

As the project progressed, primary and secondary research conducted, data sources identified and stakeholders engaged, innumerable challenges surfaced, which prompted more deliberate considerations by asking, “What is the fundamental purpose of food?”. The most direct answer being “to satisfy the basic need of subsistence by consuming adequate calories and nutrients.” This enabled the initiative to identify nutrition as the core normalizing metric and systemic health as the framework. This first phase, however, primarily focused on gathering data relative to acres, dollars and weight from statewide and county levels, disaggregated by food type as granularly as the open and proprietary data allowed.

We’ve established an exciting set of recommendations and processes to vastly improve this initial baseline and look forward to implementing, iterating and sharing the results.

Source Data

We decided to use a web-based, academic research platform called Zotero to help us collect, organize, cite and share the research and data sources. This web tool in conjunction with DropBox enabled us to further provide direct access to the downloadable data sources used throughout the Hawaii Food System Metrics platform.