Sunday, September 13, 2009


Being spoiled by the incredible food available in Hilo, Hawaii we packed a cooler of Big Island grass fed beef and fresh Ahi tuna steaks for our visit to Waikiki to make sure we had some fantastic dinners without having to rely on pricey restaurants. We noticed that one of the hotels had an Ahi special, a steak for $24, not including side dishes or drinks. The stack of $3.50/lb Ahi steaks we lugged to Oahu translated to many delicious, low-cost meals.

We are regulars at the Kino’ole Saturday Farmers Market in Hilo. It is smaller than the huge Hilo Farmer’s market but most of the vendors grow the produce in their backyards or small farms. The tomatoes we buy there aren’t the perfectly round ones found in mainland grocery stores; they are oversized with odd shapes, non-GMO tomatoes. We have become very attached to these tomatoes along with the lettuce, broccoli, green onions, avocados, cabbage, carrots, and white pineapples we buy there on Saturdays.

While in Waikiki we shopped at a store on Kuhio Avenue, the closest grocery store for the local condo residents there. We expected the high prices, but were surprised at the pitiful state of the produce. The only tomatoes available were a long way from where they were grown in Mexico; they felt dead, lifeless and old. When we hold the fruit and vegetables at the farmers market in Hilo, we can feel their freshness, nutrition, and the life force in them.

We are mystified that people living in Waikiki do not have easy access to the Big Island’s quality produce. How is it that 196 nautical miles or a 45 minute air flight separates the people in Waikiki from the life force in a fresh tomato?


Devany said...

As much as I dislike Oahu, Honolulu in particular, they do have great farmer's markets there! Check out the back of Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine or the online versions for the days and times. ALso, there is a Whole FOods in Honolulu with beautiful local produce and all organic meat, chicken,lamb and pork, something that is almost impossible to find here in Hilo.

They do grow good tomatoes and other things over there too! Still, I am fond of our own island's agrarian diversity and quality.

Victoria Hokulani said...

The life force in a tomato. Ahhhhhh...another GREAT reason WHY we are so lucky to live Big Island. Island Naturals at Hilo Shopping Center, Makuu Market, Kinoole Farmers, just more and more reasons this place is no ka oi!
Year round, folks, year round we have beautiful tomatoes along with all of the others nurturing bounties of this rich island soil. I remember the grocery wasteland of Waikiki. Must be in the General Plan of that district: one small no service grocery store every 20 blocks, carry only mainland produce and such high prices that tourists would just say "Screw it, just go to McD's or Zippy's for cheap eats.

BeachDreamer said...

There are many farmer's markets on Oahu. At KCC, walking distance from Waikiki, one can find great produce. As someone else mentioned, we have Whole Foods here (though I prefer a farmer's market). Actually, there are a couple of markets right here in Waikiki, including at the International Marketplace, Community Center, and King's Village on various nights. I am a fan of Don Quiote's and always (okay, usually) buy local produce only. I live in Waikiki- but definitely don't shop here.