6.8 LBS


At this point, pretty much everyone knows how proud I am of how little trash we produce at Moku Roots.  I think it’s also notable that we haven’t bought trash bags since we opened on May 1st.  Some people bring us produce in bags and we just repurpose those as trash bags along with other miscellaneous bags that come into our lives such as my dogs 50 lb bag of food.  

So we started weighing our trash the other day and after 12 hours of service and over two hundred meals the total weight of our trash was 6.8 lbs.  Our scale starts registering weights at 10 lbs so we had to stand on the scale with and without the trash and subtract the difference to even figure it out!
Here’s a list of some things that weigh more than 6.8 lbs - or as I like to call it, a day’s worth of trash at Moku Roots.

- The trash an average American couple produces in a day

- An average newborn baby

- Adult Maltese dog

- Medium pumpkin

- 1/2 of an average watermelon

- 987 tea bags

- Full grown Red fox

- $7,710 in dollar bills

- 3 dozen bagels

- Adult three toed sloth

- Breeder hen

- 17 Iphone X’s

- 1 gallon water

- 494 calories worth of celery 

- 39,537 bees

- Average full grown house cat

- Black handed spider monkey

- Medium adult octopus

- 61,678 drops of water

- newborn baby goat (not dwarf)

- 2.5 human brains

- Macintosh Portable - first Apple battery powered (sort-of laptop) computer

- Calculus and Physics textbook

- 9,941 calories worth of marshmallows 




Acai bowls : Why we dont serve them and where to get one

When designing our menu at Moku Roots we did so with two main considerations. 

One, we wanted to create recipes based around Maui grown produce and re-design classic recipes to feature local ingredients instead of whatever store bought ingredients they typically contain. The taro burger is a great example of the former and our yuca-based (and garbanzo free.. where on earth are garbanzos from anyways??) falafel is one of the latter. 

And the other goal of our menu was to create a type of cuisine that people wanted but simply wasn’t available : locally grown, great tasting food that is more savory than the other healthy options in Maui.  Albeit tasty, those little purple berries all the way from Brazil fit into neither of those categories and create quite a bit of blender noise to turn into an acai bowl. 

This brings me to our last but no less important reason for resisting the Acai urge, we wanted our kitchen and dining to have a quieter ambiance than can be achieved under the constant roar of Vitamixes.  So for all of my acai loving friends, here are all of the great places to get acai bowls on Maui.  

**Lahaina & West side** **Central Maui**

A’a Roots Alive & Well

Aina Gourmet Market Down to Earth

Barefruit Bar Farmacy Health Bar

Baya Bowls Jamba Juice

Betty’s Beach Cafe Maalaea General Store

Breakwall Shave Ice  Made in Hope Cafe

Cafe Cafe Maui Coffee Roasters

Choice  Mo Ono Hawaii 

Farmers Market Snow Day

Honolua store Tutti Frutti

Honolua Farms kitchen Whole Foods

Honolulu Coffee at Hyatt

Island Vintage Coffee ** Upcountry**

Island Press coffee Aloha Kettlecorn

Ulana Terrace Choice Health Bar

Coconut Cafe

**South Maui** Jaws Country Store

AwaJuice Farmacy

Beach Street Huelo Lookout

Brekkie Bowls Island Fresh Cafe

Cafe Kula Ka’ana Kitchen

Caffe Ciao Bakery and Market Mana

Farmers Market Maui Maui kombucha

Hawaiian Moons Nuka

honolulu coffee Tobi’s Shave Ice

Joy’s Place Paia Bay Coffee & Bar

Maui gelato Paia Bowls

Nalu’s South Shore Grill Rock and Brews

Whale’s Tale Sporting club of the Pacific

Wow wow hawaiian lemonade


A guide to recycling in Maui.  

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As many people are aware these days, the world’s recycling programs were recently thrown for a loop.  Until January of this year, China was taking a majority of the plastic recyclables from the states and other parts of the world, and then due to a number of factors including poor recycling habits by Americans resulting in dirty, contaminated recyclables, China stopped accepting everything.  This resulted in a nationwide standstill of recyclables.  We as consumers probably didn’t notice, as most of the recycling companies continued to pick up as usual, but then they were faced with either storing the plastics for an undetermined amount of time or sending them to the landfill.  Then some other countries started expanding their infrastructure to accept what China no longer does, but they’ve learned from China’s mistakes and have become much pickier.  The’ve set a far stricter limit for percentage by weight of acceptable contamination which I believe to be .5% from an article I read although Maui Disposal couldn’t confirm that number.  So for those who are lucky enough to have curbside recycling, if it rains between the time you put your bin out and when it is picked up, that rainwater could be the difference between your plastics being accepted or sent to landfill.  Another interesting aspect of recycling is that we rarely think of it as a business, but it absolutely is and what shapes and sizes of plastic are accepted depend solely on what they can sell and that is always subject to change.  

So what does that mean for you?  

Remember that just because it has the little recycle arrows doesn’t mean its actually being recycled right now.  No one knows what the recycling climate will look like a few months or a year from now, but currently for plastics, only bottles with “necks” are accepted.  This could include anything from water bottles to dish soap and detergent to jugs of oil as long as they are rinsed well and dried.  The lids aren’t not recyclable, however Maui Disposal asks that they are removed from bottles because when the compress the plastics, if there are lids still on they’ll shoot off like little bottle rockets all across the room.  

One thing China is still accepting is corrugated cardboard, no flat cardboard like cereal boxes or really heavy duty cardboard like that is used to package furniture. They are, however, requiring a certified inspector to inspect all corrugated cardboard before it can be shipped off and the closest inspector is on Oahu.  

Paper is much like plastic in that it can only be recycled a few times before its quality is so degraded it is unusable, so only white office paper and newspapers are currently accepted.  White paper is the most desirable to recycling companies so they don't have to use as much bleach.  A unique challenge Maui faces is that since we are a small island in the middle of the ocean with a relatively disregarded recycling program, its hard for Maui Disposal to amass enough white paper before it yellows in the weather to be able to ship it off as such and when it’s yellowed, its worth less. 

There are a few pallet size masses of magazines sitting at Maui Disposal which they cant find a buyer for, so that will have to go to the landfill along with all magazines and waxed or shiny paper. 

The worlds of glass and metal recycling are much less gloomy as both are widely accepted as long as they are clean, and can be recycled over and over for eternity with no compromise in quality.   

I think we can all agree that trying to avoid single use plastics and containers is the real answer, but its not always practical and its rarely easy.  So having all of the information is important to help us make educated decisions on the full impacts of the products that we’re buying.

Food Waste in America

 Food Waste in America is not something I find myself thinking about nearly as much plastic waste in our oceans and landfills. Perhaps it’s because it’s something we intrinsically try to avoid at home as well as at Moku Roots, whereas avoiding plastics in today’s society is a little trickier.  Lost food equals lost profits of course, or in your home its your hard earned money spent on food and lost into your trash can.  It’s a huge bummer throwing away money in the form of food, but the bummer doesn’t stop there. It’s also throwing away the resources (including 25% of all fresh water) that were used to create the food, the carbon footprint to ship it all the way out to the middle of the ocean, and whatever pesticides if any are now on the soil from when it was grown and Americans do it at an astonishing rate.  330,000,000 lbs of food are thrown out EVERY SINGLE DAY in America and if that number sounds familiar to you that’s because 330 Million people is roughly the population of the United States.   

This statistic doesn’t necessarily say that each person physically dumps 1 lb of food into the trash every day, because waste happens every step of the way up the supply chain from farmer to your table.  Just shy of 20% of that happens at the farm level where either the produce is imperfect so its discarded or there is no buyer and never hits market.  Roughly 40% of the waste happens at the grocery store/restaurant level, falling just behind what is wasted at a home level.   

So why is it that 40% OF ALL FOOD produced is thrown away, and an even higher 50% of all produce grown is thrown away?  Even though it rarely feels like food is inexpensive, especially in Hawaii where a gallon of the cheapest milk can sometimes run you ten dollars, Americans spend 6% of their incomes on food whereas in a poorer country such as Nigeria or the Philippines, one needs to spend about half of their salary to purchase enough food to survive.  People are hungry in this world and half of the food is going into the trash with very little infrastructure to get what would be discarded food to people who need it and probably way more laws than I’m aware of preventing that from ever happening. Did you know that the protocol for most grocery stores when one egg of a dozen is broken to throw away the whole dozen?  You and I are both smart enough to know that you should keep the eggs and use the other eleven to replace any broken eggs which one could reasonably assume might exist in any of the other cartons… But not most grocery stores. This will probably be a shocker to you, but Walmart got the highest score of a B (partly because of something as simple as our little “eggsercise” a second ago) in a non-biased study of grocery stores’ food waste whereas Costco, Whole Foods and Aldi brought up the rear with scores of D’s and an F. It’s disgusting and sad and from what I hear that it’s a really similar situation within the big hotels and restaurants here on Maui, but I’m really happy to be part of a restaurant that doesn’t contribute to that 40% of the food waste category. 

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Our chickens eat all of our scraps, seeds, peels, Choice Health bar is also kind enough to offer their compost to any farmers who want to pick it up to feed their animals or plants. That’s a great solution that to keeping food waste out of the landfill where it produces methane gas, but it also got us thinking about how we could creatively use some of the stuff we had been composting.  This led us to one of my favorite new foods we are making at Moku Roots… Maui Grown Brownies!  When we make coconut  milk, the fiber that is left over we had been feeding to the chickens, but recently we started using it to make coconut flour! The first use for which was our vegan, gluten free, locally grown coconut flour brownies!  Since, coconut flour has been incorporated into our taro burgers as well as other baked goods.  And to come full circle, I originally dreamt the concept of Maui Tropsicles, the precursor to Moku Roots as a way to save all of the mangos from the trees in my yard.  

So what kinds of foods do you often find yourself throwing out?  Maybe together we can find a creative solution to save food, money and resources and hopefully come up with your new favorite dish in the process!   

1 year of trash in a jar


Being Zero waste isn’t necessarily fitting all of our trash for 1 year into a mason jar like you’ve probably seen on some facebook video of Lauren Singer who is one of the women at front of the Zero Waste movement. Especially in a restaurant where we are serving hundreds of people per day, that just isn’t feasible. But what is feasible is being conscious of waste created in all aspects of our lives especially when choosing what to buy and making decisions accordingly. 

As many of you know we don’t provide any single use anything to our customers. Your sandwich to-go is coming in a taro leaf wrapped in a banana husk from a fallen banana tree at my house that fell victim to the winds of hurricane Olivia a few weeks ago. If you want a straw you’ll receive a papaya stem. 

Not giving out any single use plastics etc is easy because we are 100% in control of what we give to our customers. What we receive has been a little bit tougher and although how we make our decisions of what to purchase is largely based on packaging, some things such as organic olive oil and organic coconut oil have been difficult to find plastic free. I have just found a mainland vendor to ship a palette of organic coconut oil in a 55 gallon drum, and organic olive oil and organic sesame oil in 5 gallon buckets. The 55 gallon drum, we can later turn into a table base and will save us a whopping 85 of those large plastic jugs of organic coconut oil from Costco! The 5 gallon buckets can be reused as compost buckets and each one will save over 9 of the 2L jugs from Costco! And we might turn that palette into another table :) Even though this hasn’t happened yet, we are still super excited to have found a sustainable solution to the plastics generated from the organic oils we buy. 

There are a couple exciting efforts that have recently happened in our zero waste mission that I want to give a special shoutout to! We have been purchasing locally made organic tortillas from Sandoval’s 808 Tortilla company since we opened. They typically seal the tortillas in plastic bags for their customers, BUT they have allowed us to bring in our own reusable bags to fill in lieu of single use plastic ones :))). Not only is it awesome that they are going out of their way to make that adjustment for us, they have been bringing organic flour back from the Costco in Portland to make these tortillas. We recently teamed up with Sandoval’s and kept calling the Hawaii buyer for Costco requesting the 20 lb bags of USDA certified organic flour and the first shipment is on its way to Kahului Costco so keep an eye out! 

I also want to give a shoutout to Local Harvest and Oko’a Farms. Local Harvest is a kick-ass company that picks up produce from home growers to full fledged farms on Maui and delivers local and organic produce to restaurants all over the island. They are rad for making local ingredients available to those who want them, by creating a network of those who grow them. Oko’a farms as a beautiful organic farm located in Kula that is very committed to growing diverse and sustainable crops, some of which have revolutionized our menu! #MauiGrownBrownies #yakin’ #yapples… That isn’t why I’m mentioning them however, I want to give a shoutout to both of them for REUSING BOXES!! Whenever they drop off produce to us, they also pick up the boxes we have saved from the last delivery. It would be easier for us to just throw the boxes into the dumpster like everyone else and rely on our suppliers to buy more boxes, made from trees grown on the mainland, cut down and trucked to a factory, then sent to Maui wrapped in plastic via some presumably indirect shipping route, but that isn’t how we roll!

So come enjoy some sustainably sourced food with confidence that we are doing everything we can to send as little to Maui’s landfills as possible!!

Whole Foods, we can do better.

Whole Foods, we can do better…



The obvious implication here is Whole Foods, YOU can do better, and I know that because I’m doing better and I’m not a fortune 500 company or fortune whatever company you’ve become since being acquired by Amazon. I’m sure there are plenty of things we all know Whole Foods could do better cough*lower prices*cough, but I’m not one to gripe about price.

Actually, I want to digress for a second and talk about why I don’t gripe about price. One reason specific to food is that if something is cheap at least two of the following three items must be true. They aren’t paying their employees enough, they’re buying the cheapest bottom-of-the-barrel ingredients, and/or they are in a shitty location. Come to think of it, non-food products that are cheap could probably be assessed by the previous criteria or some variation thereof as well. Food and things that AREN’T cheap at least have a possibility of not falling into these categories. However if you feel something is too expensive for its quality or the ethics within its supply chain, don’t freaking buy it! Definitely don’t buy it and complain to me how its overpriced. If you buy something it is worth exactly that price, because you paid exactly that amount of money for it. Some things are worth more money, made with high quality ingredients and operate with a high level of ethics every step of the way, so just go spend your money on those and BE HAPPY already... please...

Okay back to things I do gripe about (other than people griping obviously :/ ) - restaurants serving food on throwaway plates with single use plastic forks to people who are dining-in. And yes Whole Foods, you totally are a restaurant since you have a huge hot bar and multiple options where people actually make food to order and you have seating for over 200 people at a time. In fact, you're probably one of the largest restaurants in Maui come to think of it. The Whole Foods in Maui does indeed have re-usable plates but they are no where to be found, you always have to ask, which I always do of course, and every time who ever I ask to get me a reusable plate always acts like its a huge shock that they’re out and then brings out a stack of like 6 and goes back to making burritos or whatever. Because six plates is an appropriate amount of plates to offer the entire whole foods customer base.. she typed sarcastically…

Based on seating, general restaurant turnover calculations, and observation, I bet between 300 and 500 people eat lunch at the Kahului Whole Foods every day and I also bet that at least 50% to 75% of them eat their entire meal, sitting down on whole foods property before they leave. That gets us to a low estimate of 150 people and a high estimate of 375 people essentially dining in at whole foods and each and every one of them (except for me and up to 5 other people) throwing away a plastic fork and a plate and maybe more!!! For one freaking lunch… At one freaking whole foods… on one freaking day… Since I have a math minor and I’m not using it, lets do some more calculations, there are a total of 470 Whole Foods, lets say this location is somewhat busy compared to the other 469 which leads us to a reasonable estimate of 94,000 plastic forks and single use plates and containers that got thrown away TODAY… during the lunch rush…. exclusively by people who ate their entire meal at a Whole Foods dining area all because Whole Foods DOESN’T WANT TO WASH A F*CKING FORK.

It is cheaper to throw sh*t away than pay someone to wash it, and that’s insane to really wrap your mind around, but its true. I have to pay someone to wash forks, and sometimes I wash forks, and plates, and glasses because Moku Roots doesn’t take short cuts at the expense of the planet. And Moku Roots isn’t a huge company yet, we are a tiny company right now, but we can make it work and you need to too Whole Foods. You need to be a leader in the community and the world of health foods and not the biggest culprit of "greenwashing" of them all. I’m super disappointed in you right now, but its not just you that I’m disappointed in. I am also disappointed in Down to Earth because they don’t even have reusable plates to offer the people who dine in on their hot foods bar. I'm also upset with every other restaurant who choses to cut corners at the expense of your future and your kid's futures and give you plastic forks and cups rather than washing dishes.

It is up to us though to stop being disappointed and start being the difference. Make the pizza guy at Whole Foods go get you a reusable plate for your meal, bring your own fork, and bring your own container to Down to Earth.

No restaurant or grocery store will ever stop littering our world with their laziness if we keep telling them with our dollars that what they’re doing is totally cool, but then complaining to our friends that theres too much plastic on the beach. If you want to stop seeing plastic on the beach, STOP USING SINGLE-USE PLASTICS!

Otherwise, we are the problem too...

I see a shift!


I have been wanting to write about the disconnect between health food and consciousness of packaging for a while, but after an interaction I had today and a conversation I had recently, I’m going to be more optimistic and acknowledge a shift that I see happening instead!  

Today we were closed, but I was at the restaurant juicing some limes when I saw one of our loyal customers at the door. She had peered in and saw that we were closed, but was reading a flyer on our window so I walked out to say hi and chat for a second. She only wanted to buy a dessert and a tropsicle which is totally something I’m happy to do even if we aren’t open. I went to grab her dessert from the fridge and she said she would go grab her stainless steel Moku Roots container from her car to take the mango swirl “cheesecake” to-go. We got to talking about the containers and she mentioned having been at the grocery store the other day and really wanted to buy micro greens as she always had, but now seeing all of the plastic associated with one small serving of micro greens made her decide to opt out from buying them all together.  


Plastic laden health foods don’t stop at micro greens unfortunately. The conversation I had a few weeks ago with one the girls who works with us, and I would consider her to be one of the most all-around conscious people that I know, was one of the first times that it became really clear to me that we are truly making a difference in shifting people’s opinions with our policies regarding plastics and single use containers. Her “Aha moment” was that she had been at the grocery store as well buying some things to make salad with her roommate, which would have included cherry tomatoes.  Albeit delicious, and arguably more delicious than larger tomatoes, they are unfortunately always in some kind of stupid little plastic containers, so she chose to buy something that would have preferred slightly less based on taste, for the sake of conserving plastic.  That would be the first time she weighed packaging so heavily into her buying decisions, which previously had just included a preference for organic, local, and vegan. 


Moku Roots is inspiring people to at the very least consider packaging when buying, and at the very best, influencing people to stop buying things in plastic or excess packaging all together.  

And thats pretty fuckin’ cool.    


I wish I had, but I have not always had the packaging surrounding the things I buy even in the perimeter of my consciousness. I used to be perfectly content sucking down a smoothie in a bioplastic cup, often referred to as “eco-cups” with a lid and a plastic straw because the contents were organic and I only cared about what I was putting into my body not what I was leaving in the environment around my body.  It never really occurred to me that my organic smoothie was trashing the planet, that my “eco cup” was essentially plastic (even though I was totally an elitist judging everyone else who was using actual plastic), and when actual plastics were still recyclable in America, the eco-cup could arguably be worse than actual plastic because at least plastics could be recycled.  There is very little infrastructure for dealing with bioplastics and there is even less information surrounding how long an “eco cup” takes to break down outside of an industrial compositing facility…(because SURPRISE, there aren’t any industrial composting facilities in at least 2500 miles and I have yet to find a single mainland commercial composting facility that accepts anything other than food scraps and green waste) but my research leads me to believe it takes somewhere between 300 years and forever for a bioplastic container to break down.  So best case scenario, that cup that you used for 2 minutes because you just had to take that iced coffee to-go and you forgot to bring your own cup to put it in, is going to be exactly in the condition it is today for your great great great great great great great great grandkids to find when they’re playing on the beach.  I would have never admitted this at the time either, but looking at it strictly from a landfill perspective, ordering a big mac would have probably been better for the planet since those are just wrapped in a thin sheet of paper.  Most fast food surprisingly is wrapped in very little and truly backyard biodegradable packaging.  I’m not advocating eating big macs I would never put that into my body, but its pretty ironic that Mcdonalds could be arguably better for the environment than your local organic take-out.  

But enough about that, I wrote this wanting to focus on the positive shift I am seeing, and whether or not Moku Roots’ strict policies against single use to-go containers has any part in influencing Maui towards that shift is still up for debate, but I’m stoked either way!  

So, tell your bartender no straw, sit down and drink that smoothie there instead of taking it to go, bring your own coffee cup, carry a container for leftovers when you go out to eat, and most importantly use your dollars to vote for less packaging with your purchases and we will all start to see the change I’m seeing now! 


How we decide on what ingredients to buy

    There are three main pieces of information that I take into account when purchasing food and products for the restaurant and I think they’re important enough to share.  Consumers are generally price driven, or make purchases based on brand loyalty.  There’s nothing wrong with great prices in my book or staying loyal to a product you know you love, and those play a role with how we source ingredients, but aren’t the major factors. 


    The First two things I take into account fall into what I consider to be the environmental impacts category.  The first of which is getting that product from its original origin (yes, intentional redundancy to stress the true beginnings!) to the doors of Moku Roots.  We source things as locally as possible, we have a farm in Launiupoko which is 4.7 miles door to door where we source some ingredients (although we are more focussed on planting than we are harvesting at the moment so in a few months we can be harvesting as much as possible) and that’s not even the shortest distance some of our produce travels!  We get lots of our produce from Simpli Fresh organic farm which can't be farther than 2 miles from the restaurant, and get this, some of our bananas and tapioca are grown less than 50 feet from our backdoor! Not even joking.  Our friend’s back door is adjacent to the restaurants and he has a little organic garden in the back yard growing all kinds of greens, bananas, yuca, mangoes, avocados, blackberries, citrus.  If you have ever eaten our breakfast “potato” blend, it consists of some combination of (**all Maui grown**) purple sweet potatoes, traditional orange flesh sweet potatoes, taro, and yuca which is so local it has never even ridden in a car!   

    So the amount of energy required to get something to us from its origin is certainly part of what I weigh out regarding environmental impact, but packaging is equally as important to me in what I’m buying.  One of the great things about buying directly from your farmer is you can bring your own container to pick produce up in or they drop it off and we put it into our reusable containers and they take theirs buckets and bins back to be used in transport again and again.  There are some things we aren’t able to source locally, such as tofu, olive oil, balsamic vinegar etc which we try to buy in the most minimal packaging possible or in packaging that is reusable in some beneficial way.  And i’m not talking about hoarding a closet full of something you’ll never use again, for instance we are in the process of using the tofu containers to grow micro greens which we use on many of our menu items.  The glass jars we either reuse as drinking glasses in restaurant, or storing stuff in the fridge or give to our Hot sauce maker to fill with delicious Jake sauce.  

**(We have since stopped buying tofu and replaced it on our menu with eggplant which we grow in Launiupoko)**

    With everything that is going on regarding the recycling of plastics in America right now it is of utmost importance to me to make my purchasing decisions largely based on how much plastic its packaging contains. (short story is China used to take most of the worlds plastic recyclables and melt them down to make new ones. America, for years, sent them dirty container ships of plastics contaminated with other things that are definitely not plastics, and it became more costly to sort than just to create virgin plastics from fossil fuels and put all pre-used plastics into landfills for all of eternity.  Also, plastics, unlike other recyclables such as glass and metal which can be recycled over and over indefinitely,  degrade somewhat every time they are recycled so most plastics can only be recycled a max of 5 or 6 times. So China has greatly scaled back from whom and what types of plastics they accept worldwide.  I read that Maui is no longer recycling any plastics other than #1 and #2 which have necks - ie are bottles of some kind, but the Olowalu recycling center still accepts all plastics which makes me think all plastics even those #1, #2 with necks are going into landfill. I don’t know this for sure and please if you know more info, let me know because I want to know the truth!)

      Pesticides and herbicides are of course a huge factor in the realm of environmental impacts and we do our absolute best to stay as far away from them as humanly possible!  This is why purchasing organics is my second factor that I weigh out.  Most of our locally sourced ingredients are “organically managed and pesticide free” if they haven’t gone through the organic certification process.  And of course most of the aforementioned mainland sourced products are USDA certified organic :)  Everything we grow is pesticide free and we practice organic farming and composting to take care of our soil and plants naturally.  However, we will never pursue a USDA certification. 

    Price of ingredients plays a roll in my buying process, it would be silly not to, but its the third factor, not the first.  We look for great deals on produce and other ingredients alike, but we would never compromise quality to save a few bucks.  We might have to pass on some ingredients whose prices wouldn’t allow our food to be affordable.  We have some established great relationships with local farmers and just local people with beautiful citrus, avocado, mango, papaya, and banana trees whose great prices we are able to pass on to you! 

No more maple!!

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The title may have lead you to believe I have some kind of a vendetta against maple, which I assure you, I do not. I have nothing at all against maple, it tastes great, and it brings up an unparalleled level of nostalgia when paired with pancakes and remembering the good ole days of your mom’s breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning.  However, I never intended to rely as heavily as we’ve become on maple syrup at Moku Roots for our vegan pancakes which we previously served with honey until it was brought to our attention that it was slightly misleading.  The pancakes are vegan and will continue to be, but will be served with our local organic honey from Maui Bees in Kula and as such will be labeled dairy and egg free instead of vegan.  

(and we will continue to serve the rest of the maple we have already purchased until it is gone…. then its reeeeeaaaaalllllllly gonneeeeeeee) 


We are not a strictly vegan restaurant. We have many vegan options and pride ourselves in doing so, but our OVERALL GOAL above all else to support local economy by supporting local farms and farmers and reduce environmental impacts of plastic packaging and fossil fuel use in transport of ingredients from far far away. And maple comes from a land far far away.  4,996 miles to be exact from Lahaina to Quebec (which accounts for 90% of the world’s maple production).  Vermont who produces way less, but still is a player in the Maple production game, especially within the US, is only 64 miles closer, leaving that maple to travel 4932 miles if it were to hop on a jet straight from tree to Lahaina.  That isn’t the case of course, it has to get put in little plastic bottles first that are no longer recycled in this world and shot off via who knows how many pit stops one quarter of the way across the planet.  We’ve repurposed those bottles, but there’s only so many ways to use them! Unless we are using them in lieu of some other plastic that we would have needed to otherwise purchase, its not an excuse to buy something in the plastic as far as i’m concerned.  

Maui Bees in Kula is located exactly 36.6 miles from the front door of Moku Roots and they let me bring my own jars! So we reuse the jars over and over and over again giving them a 5/5 star review in my book of trying to abstain from from single use anything. 

If we ever open a Moku Roots in Vermont, we will proudly serve shit tons of maple :) 

So to recap ….

Maui Bees honey - no single use packaging, 36.6 miles

Organic maple syrup -  un-recyclable plastic bottles and 5,000 miles. 

In an effort to serve our no-honey vegans customers, we are super excited to announce that we’re experimenting with local making Kula grown Yacon syrup and sugar cane juice syrup from fresh pressed sugar cane juice (sugar cane was cut down with a machete, walked 25 feet to our manual press, juiced and driven 3.8 miles from our farm in Lahaina to the doors of Moku Roots. the fiber is then laid down as mulch in gardens.)  Now that’s another option I can get “beehind”  

I’m curious to hear people’s opinions on our sweet dilemma… 


We just got rid of our trash cans!!

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I feel confident in saying that we are probably one of the only restaurants in existence that was faced with the predicament of producing too little trash for our 2 “slim jim” trash cans. Every night during our one trash run of the day, we would try to combine our 2 small kitchen trash cans, our 2 bathroom trash cans and the one by the register and still feel terrible that we were throwing away a full size trash bag hardly 1/3 of the way full. Daily, we felt like our trash bag our biggest contributor to the landfills so we’ve decided the only logical solution was to return our 2 kitchen trash cans and replace them with 2 tiny bathroom sized trash cans for 100% of our kitchen waste that doesn’t feed the chickens or into the compost pile. We are also hoping to most often line the trash cans with pre-used paper grocery bags that someone brings us fruit in, so we can also avoid a plastic bag. 
I am not typically the person taking the trash to the dumpster we share with maybe 10 other tenants in the same building, but I happened to run the trash a few nights ago at the same time as an employee for one of our neighbor restaurants was taking theirs out as well. She had a huge trash can like one of the ones that the trash truck comes and picks up from your house overflowing with bags and had 2 more loaded bags stacked on top as she rolled it to the dumpster at the same time as me. As we converged at the dumpster, she kind of jokingly said, “forgot the bathrooms ya?” and I realized its probably unbelievable that this small bag i could have held up with two fingers is literally all of the trash we produce all day in an entire restaurant!

So how do we produce so little trash? A number of ways I guess…

For one, we take all of our food waste for our chickens to eat or if its something they don’t like, it goes straight to the compost pile. (or in the case of citrus peels, they go directly below the citrus trees because they’re not great in large quantities for compost piles because of their antibacterial properties) That accounts for about four 5-gallon buckets per day of chicken food and nutritients and nitrogen for our soil.

Also, because we buy direct from the farmers in most cases, we receive produce in boxes and we give them the boxes back to re-use over and over so they don’t have to spend money buying boxes to give to us to throw in the dumpster just to receive the same thing in a brand new box a few days later.

The last yet equally as important reason for so little trash is that buying things with little trash is actually a huge part of how we decide on what to buy. You may have noticed that we recently took tofu off the menu. It’s not that we have anything against tofu, but it was because tofu was one of our largest contributors to our trash (and yes, even though its got the little 3 triangle thingy on it, it’s still trash, no plastic is getting recycled anymore except Hi-5, so you can separate it from the trash and drive it to the “plastic recycling” container at the dump/recycling but it is not getting recycled it is going into the landfill). I couldn’t take our restaurant producing 4 little plastic boxes (holding one standard 14 oz size piece of tofu each) per day so we decided to make a change and switch to teriyaki marinated eggplant for the Bahn mi sandwich and the Vietnamese crepe roll- both of which previously had tofu. I’m currently trying to figure out how to not have to buy 2 L plastic jugs of organic olive oil as that’s another contributor of trash for us- maybe 3 bottles per week. If anyone knows of options for buying like a 55 gallon drum of olive oil, I’m in the market!

And of course, we can sleep easy at night knowing that our customers aren’t receiving ANYTHING from us that they will take home and contribute to their trash and Maui’s landfills.