A New Book For Hawai‘i-Keiki: “Kai Goes to the Farmers Market”

O‘ahu mom and writer Catherine Toth Fox gets kids excited about Hawai‘i-grown foods.


Photo: Catherine Toth Fox


An adorable new book for keiki, Kai Goes to the Farmers Market, tells the story of Kai, a preschooler who is not thrilled to join his mother at an early-morning farmers market. When she introduces him to the world of Hawaiʻi-grown foods, Kai decides that shopping is fun, after all!


The book’s author, Catherine Toth Fox, is an Oʻahu mom, blogger and editor of HAWAII magazine (a sister publication of HONOLULU Family.) Her inspiration for the main character Kai, stems from her own son, Landon, age 3. Landon loves farmers markets and always is ready to tag along with his mom.


Keiki learning to read and rhyme can easily grasp the book’s message—which is to support local agriculture. They’ll also notice cute and colorful illustrations by local artist Mariko Merritt. Her attention to details (a lei on a honey bear bottle and textured ridges on a pineapple, for example) are spot-on.


The hardback book is small enough for little hands, retails for about $12 each and makes for great holiday gifts.


“The more you can get kids excited about something—in this case, healthy, locally grown foods—the more they’ll want to try it.” –Catherine Toth Fox


HF: Congratulations on your new book, Kai Goes to the Farmers Market. We heard that Landon is one of those rare kids who eats almost all vegetables. What’s your mommy secret? 

Toth Fox: “Luckily (for me), Landon has always liked veggies. He’s typically a good eater and he will always try something at least once. We introduced him to solid foods at 4 months old and gave him just about everything to taste, from poi to hummus. I think that early exposure was helpful; he didn’t really have much of a choice back then!


Right now, he loves broccoli, roasted cauliflower, carrot sticks and peas, which I don’t eat. I never tell him that I don’t like a certain vegetable or make like vegetables are something he should eat. I’m very matter-of-fact about them. I talk about them the same way I’d talk about a sandwich or a gummy bear—they’re all just delicious foods.”


Photo: Courtesy of Sean Marrs Photography


HF: You’re a magazine editor, journalism instructor, blogger, mom and wife. What’s a typical day like for a working mom of a preschooler?

Toth Fox: “First off, there are no typical days when you’re a working mom! I’m usually up between 4 and 4:30 a.m. and go for a quick run, then get breakfast and lunch ready. Landon gets up at around 5:30 a.m. and he eats oatmeal and applesauce, or pancakes and bacon, or a grilled cheese sandwich and yogurt. I try to vary it.


While he’s eating, I walk our three dogs around the neighborhood; that’s about a mile. Then one of us drops him off at preschool. If my husband drops him off, I’ll walk to work—it’s about three miles—just to fit in some kind of exercise.


Sometimes, I’ll hit the surf before going into the office. If I drop him off, then I head straight to the office. My job is unconventional in that I do a lot of reporting that takes me out of the office—sometimes off the island—but I always make sure I’m around to pick him up at 4 p.m. Then it’s dinner, bath, playtime, books and bed. He’s in bed by 5:30 p.m. every night. I’m lucky because I have a few hours while he’s asleep to work, make dinner, hang out with friends or just read a book. In peace.


HF: What advice would you like to share with parents and caregivers?

Toth Fox: “I’m always explaining to Landon what things are, including naming all the fruits and vegetables we would see at the local grocery store or farmers market. When I talk about them, he gets interested in them, and then wants to try them. He’s eaten just about everything I wrote about in the book—with the exception of jaboticaba, but he loves saying that word! The more you can get kids excited about something—in this case, healthy, locally grown foods—the more they’ll want to try it.”



Kai Goes to the Farmers Market is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Da Shop, a local bookstore in Kaimukī. The price ranges from $12 to $13.