Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tips on Dealing with Sugar Cane Burning

Sugar Cane Burning is back!  It started on March 20th and will continue probably until Thanksgiving. 

What sugar cane burning looks like from Kula.
Pic courtesy of Amanda Brightbill (da Puerto Rican Food Truck). 

What to do?  For me, the sugar cane burning is an invitation to restless nights (despite 3 or 4 melatonin pills) and lots of coughing and phlegm. Not everyone is so sensitive to cane burning, but it's hard on the elderly, young children, people with lung issues and allergies. Sugar cane burning is not just neolithic slash and burn agriculture but possibly includes the burning of PVC pipes and black irrigation plastic. H C &S denies that they burn these pipes, but is not exactly a model corporate citizen.  Even if HC & S tried to move some pipes out the way, it's not believable to think in the thousands of acres they burn each year, that they don't burn some pvc even if it's "accidental."  If you don't have the phlegm or coughing now, it doesn't mean you're out of the hole either.  Naturopath Julie Holmes died suddenly from lung cancer a few years ago and she wasn't a smoker.  To critics who may say, "Doctor heal thyself," I would retort, that she would have died at a much younger age if she hadn't been as health-conscious as she was.  To read more about the health effects, here's a recent Maui news article about cane burning

I've picked the brains of a very nice person who asked to be anonymous, but I'll dub her Saraswati for the goddess of wisdom, and here's what she wrote:

1.  I use an air purifier called an Air Pura (look on line). I close windows and doors during the burning  and VOG times. Invest in a really good air purifier, even if there are leaks and cracks in the house.  It makes a big difference. Mine has an ultraviolet button on it to wipe out germs if I want extra protection. (Courtney's note: I have also been looking at lots of air purifiers, even the inexpensive ones at Costco, Home Depot and Lowe's.)

2. Put special oxygenating plants in the house that exchange air so you get more clean oxygen into your space.
3. I eat the Sea Snax (seaweed) daily . It helps chelate out heavy metals that may be in the air. There are probably other good diet things to do to keep your lungs clear. Ask Jackie from Maui Herbs or check on line for ideas.. I also get Vega tested by Dr. Ian Cholewa in Kihei  to see what other impacts my body is experiencing. He's saved my life. Many of my friends go to him. One is now cancer free. (Courtney's note: I also like Dragon's Den in Makawao and have been using eucalyptus hydrosol to help with breathing.)

4. I went to Jackie at Maui Herbs in South Kihei on Lipoa St. also recently to see what I could do to get better oxygenation for my body. She makes a VOG formula as well as other formulas specific to you for breathing better and clearer.. 

Jackie is an intuitive ayurvedia healer and herbalist, so she was able to assess my pulses, and make up a formula using muscle testing (We both muscle test). 

I was having trouble getting enough oxygen into my body and my nose would plug up, , so I had her make up a special formula for me and my sinuses are far clearer.. I also got from Jackie Nose drops (Eucalyptus) and I use 2 drops in each nostril before bed. She also gave me a patch to help me breathe better. 

5. I get on the call list from HC& S. I also call the hot line at night before bed. Sometimes there are cancellations or changes to the burn schedule. This allows you to know when they are burning in your area and how long you need to close up the house.  

6. Cane Burning hot line 877-6963.
   NOAA weather 866-944-5052    
   Maui Adviseries 808 986-1200    
   Vog hotline 866-767-5044, website:

7. I did send out the following blurb below recently:
This is a health tip alert. Hawaiian Sugar Company begins cane burning season March 20 this year. Please let friends, colleagues, family know.

Most people do not know that they can call Hawaiian Sugar Company Phone: 808) 877-2928  to get on the "Cane Burning Advanced Notification"  call list alerts for burn schedule updates that affect your area of the island. Let Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company know where you live to accommodate you.

Before bed, you can call that. There is a hot line recording 877-6963 for burn times for the next day. (Courtney's note: I just called them - no burning on Friday, April 6th probably because of Good Friday! It will resume on April 7th in the Pulehu/Omaopio area of Kula.) This info can keep you, the elderly, your children and pets healthier and keep your house cleaner. 

Call list reminders and this phone number alerts you so you know when to close windows and doors during the burn schedule hours, and turn on an air purifier, particularly to protect your loved ones health. Lung conditions are one of the most prevalent health issues on Maui. 

March 20-22 cane burning will be between the hours of 6:30am to 10 am. this Tues through Thurs. Their alerts can change due to change in weather conditions. Recommend keeping the phone number above handy. 

For VOG alerts, just look at Lanai. If you can't see it through the haze, you know it is likely VOG from the volcano from the Big Island volcano. VOG tea can be purchased at Hawaiian Moons or from Maui Herbs locally to assist with your health. 

(Courtney's note: Some great ideas were listed above courtesy of "Saraswati." As I find more things and techniques that will help me, I'll be happy to post them.

Update 1/24/13:
One product that I do like a lot is Dr. Christopher's Blood Stream Formula, which seems to help my liver and kidneys deal with the burning. I take 2 or more pills a day as needed. You can buy it locally too, at Dragon's Den.  Disclaimer: I do receive a small referral fee. 

Since the time of writing this post, I want to make some things clear:
I am not against agriculture. I like farmers. Just ask me!  But there have been many proposals through the years asking HC & S harvest cane and clear their fields.  HC & S's concern has always been economics and jobs, the classic money vs. environment/health argument. I've always thought that HC & S was just a Cro-Magnon institution and unwilling to change, but realize now that I have to hold a vision of HC & S and A & B being willing to change and open to change, and finding ways to make local agriculture economically viable. Maui is the last island in all of Hawaii with slash and burn agriculture still alive in the 21st century. And fascinatingly, I have discovered many locals who are obsessed with sugar cane burning, since it seems to be a way of opposing "haole influx" (i.e., mainlanders of Caucasian descent moving) into Maui.

If cane burning distresses you, also visit the Facebook group, Stop Sugar Cane Burning Now. )


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