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Celebrating Earth Day Hawaiian Style

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I was lucky enough to be in Hawaii last weekend and got to partake in the islands' pre-Earth Day festivities and also discovered some new and delicious eco-minded food spots. Some highlights:

*Rocking out to Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews and Mason Jennings at the zero-waste, carbon-neutral Kokua Festival in Honolulu. Surfer turned filmmaker, turned rock star/eco-activist Jack Johnson created the festival five years ago to benefit the Kokua Foundation — his non-profit organization devoted to environmental education. All concerts should aspire to the festival's green principles: personal bike valets; biodiesel-powered generators; carbon offset options upon ticket purchase; concession stands selling local, sustainable drinks and snacks like salads and fruit from Pupukea Gardens; natural sodas from Waialua Soda Works and beer from Kona Brewing Company.

*Celebrating Maui Earth Day Sunday at Baldwin Beach in the hippie-chic town of Paia with live music and food from some of my favorite local restaurants like Flatbread Pizza.

*Tasting my way through the incredible flavors of gelato at Paia's new Ono Gelato. The five-month old, Italian-style gelateria sources local ingredients like apple bananas from Ono Farms, strawberry papayas from Molokai and persimmon from the Hashimoto family in Kula and makes all of its gelatos in-house. The non-fruit flavors were just as refreshing, especially Philosopher's Brew — a combination of organic herbal tea and peaches.

*Stumbling upon the awesome Laulima Farms on the way to Oheo Gulch in Hana. This 13-acre farm grows its own coffee and fruit and serves drinks and snacks at the on-site cafe/fruit stand. Customers have to hop on a bike and peddle in place if they want one of the fresh fruit smoothies which are prepared in a bicycle-powered blender.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.