In the small-town of Pahoa, residents and Slow Food Hawaii are fighting against a proposed new mall that will bring a cluster of international fast food chains to their tiny, historic town, arguing that it will change the nature of their community forever.
Residents have formed a new organization, Protect Pahoa, to protest the development and held their first public protest this week on June 16. A shopping center has already been built in the area, but aside from a supermarket and a Subway it houses mostly locally owned businesses, while tenants of this second center will include Burger King, KFC and a full-sized Longs Drugs.
‘The first thing people will see when they come to Pahoa are these restaurants [Burger King and KFC] – is that how we want to be identified?’ said Protect Pahoa co-founder David Sprigle, at the demonstration.
Pahoa is by no means alone on the island in its fight to retain its individuality in an increasingly homogenized world. Communities such as Honokaa, Hawi, Volcano, Honomu and Naalehu have made a committed effort to keep their local architecture, and have very few or no chain stores in an effort to support the local economy and food production.
‘Must we make the same mistakes our mainland communities have made?’ asked resident Tiffany Edwards Hunt in a discussion on the Big Island Chronicle. ‘I would like to see the Slow Food Movement become more popular than the fast food. It’s all about our health and wellness. ’
Another resident, Rene Siracusa wrote: ‘I never eat at Burger King (they destroy rainforests in Latin America to raise their beef) or KFC (trans-fat) and will not start now. Especially now. There are 13 places to eat in Pahoa – 2 more are not needed.’
Slow Food Hawaii, assisted the group to organize the protest and sent their own message with the group’s press release, reminding the community that the Slow Food movement had its beginning when Italians protested against the opening of a McDonald’s in the center of Rome.
Big Island Chronicle