Grow Your Own with Aloha Aina Warrior Dustin Barca
Dustin Barca the professional surfer shreds. Dustin Barca the professional MMA fighter bangs. Last month, Dustin Barca the father and concerned tax payer wore a yellow collared shirt and testified before the County Council of Kaua’i in favor of Bill 2491, which would create local regulations of genetically engineered crops and pesticides. This, the struggle to save his homeland from dangerous and secretive chemical companies masquerading as farmers, is beyond the cage or unconquerable waves, it’s the fight of his life.
“There’s a big difference between those of us who are here today testifying for and against this bill,” Barca said to the council. “Those of us testifying for this bill are not being paid to be here. We are here out of love— for the future of our aina, the future of our keiki, the future of everything that we love.” Born and raised on Kauai, Barca reminded everyone about the motto Hawaii kids are raised with in school: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘_ina i ka Pono.
“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” he translated. “That means to keep the land right for the next generation—if not to make it better.” A couple months previous to this in March, Barca was on a different island every weekend helping to organize and lead “Evict Monsanto” marches. He helped found a group that is not only being active about putting the GMO companies in Hawaii out of business, but helping families to be more self-sustaining in growing their own food. It’s time to catch up with this Aloha Aina Warrior and get the scoops.
How did you learn about the GMO presence in Hawaii?
I grew up in a health-conscious environment. I was learning slowly for a long time. Once I started having children and learning how much food has GMO ingredients in it, it really scared me that my kids are being slowly poisoned and the land I live on and love is also being poisoned.
Do you think we need to evict the companies off the land or label GMO food?
Evict! When we start evicting it will be a snowball effect on the whole GMO industry. The farming is their base. When you take away someone’s base they have no balance. There are many unknowns about the health impacts of the increased pesticide use and consuming GMO foods. If our food can’t reproduce, than those eating it can’t reproduce and that alone is a crime against humanity.
What is your stance on the Kamehameha Schools “Evict Monsanto” issue?
The truth is public, we all know that Kamehameha Schools is going against what Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and her wishes on how the land would be cared for. Everybody whose children or family members go to school there need to get involved and the students need to get involved too. Once they all learn the truth I’m sure they will be as concerned as the rest of us. Wake up Hawaii!
What have all the anti-GMO protests you’ve attended been like and what do you say on the megaphone that’s always in your hand?
I am just another piece of the puzzle. The marches and rallies have really just created themselves to tell you the truth. All I say on the mega is common sense out loud.
Tell us about your group ‘Ohana O Kaua‘i:
We are planting a garden every two weeks. Starting with local Hawaiian families that want to eat better, healthier food. We want to make growing your own food cool again and show how easy it really is.
Kauai has been Syngenta’s GMO testing grounds for 40 years now. They make atrazine and spray it regularly on their test crops. How do you feel about this?
We are ground zero for chemical testing and GMO seeding. They have poisoned the drinking water with atrazine on the Waimea-Kekaha area and many people are getting cancer and lung diseases because of uncontrolled open air poison testing. All being covered up by corruption within our local government. It’s time to put human health over corporate wealth.
Has your activism changed things in your community or the surf world?
It’s definitely changed our community. We are coming together and realizing that we pay the bills for this island to work. We have the power and that power is unity and agreeing that things need to change for the better. We have to continue to show up and hold people accountable. Go tell the lawmakers what decisions they need to make for our safety. Our reefs are dying, our aquifers are being poisoned, and our children are being poisoned. It’s time.
Have your surfing and MMA platforms helped you get your message out?
They have helped 100 percent. I felt like instead of talking about myself on Facebook and other outlets, why not make a difference? I have a lot of knowledge from reading and watching things and I felt like everybody should know.
What do you think people can do on a daily basis to fight for food security and safety?
Grow your own organic food, buy grass fed beef, eat organic chicken and voice your opinion about GMO ingredients being in your family’s food. GMOs are made to kill so get educated and stand up for your family. Hawaii could be a blueprint for the world for self-sustainability. It was before and can be again. I truly believe that organic healthy food is in the future of Hawaii but we have to get the chemical companies that call themselves farmers out of here. We have the best land and weather in the world for growing our own food, it’s a no brainer!