Thursday, June 19, 2014

Local Food, Kona, Hawaii

A banana from Hamakua Springs. According to their website: "Hamakua Springs Country Farms, located on the slopes of Mauna Kea in beautiful Pepe‘ekeo on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, is run by three generations of the Ha family."

Our condo cupboard in Kona came supplied with a few ounces of 100% Kona coffee, salt, pepper, and a few bottles of vinegar. Refrigerator: empty. So this morning after drinking some of the coffee, which is wonderful, we went off to the nearby supermarket, the KTA. We've shopped there on many previous trips, and it seems to me there is more local produce than in the past -- and even local meat.

As always bread comes from the Punalu'u bakery, including several flavors of special Hawaii sweet rolls. You can see the Hawaii banana label on Lenny's banana -- I was happy to see Hawaiian bananas in the market, and to learn from the farmer's website that their business is expanding. There have always been local papayas, Maui onions, tomatoes -- and sometimes bananas, but sometimes Central American bananas. This time we also found lettuce, avocados, and cucumbers grown on farms around the island. In the past, I think we would have had to go to the Farmer's Market for such variety.

100% Kona coffee used to be unusual in the supermarket: now there's around a ten-foot stretch of shelf dedicated to local coffee growers. The prices vary. All are high, but I think Kona coffee is worth it.

I don't know which market forces and trends have been at work here, but I suspect that more Big Island farms are now producing more food for local grocery stores, not just for boutique restaurants. The Hamakua Springs website implies this. Beef cattle on the ranches in the center of the Big Island were established close to 200 years ago, but the cows used to be sent to feedlots on the mainland. The beef we ate for dinner was chewy, as if it was grass-fed. But I have no real information, only speculation and very subjective memories.

Of course we aren't really here for the food, but to enjoy the beautiful ocean. On a beach walk this afternoon, we saw a variety of birds and a turtle sunning himself under a pile of sand he had thrown on himself, using his flippers.

At first sight, I wasn't sure what I was seeing in the sand.
I approached, but not too close. Turtles need their space.
The turtle throwing nice warm sand onto his back.

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