I saw this morning that 90% of Hawaii’s food is imported. That’s an amazing statistic for our islands. We are nearly completely dependent on air and sea transportation, as well as Mainland food growers and distributors for nearly everything we eat and drink.
Even some things that we think are “Hawaiian” are not. Every bag of “Hawaii style” or “Maui Onion” potato chips I see is made on the Mainland. Even a good share of beer with Hawaii logos, names and designs is not brewed here. Clever marketing, indeed!
In this blog post, I’d like to highlight three specialty agriculture businesses that make superior products. They are all what we’d call family farms; businesses owned and operated by families on the Big Island.
Organic Kona Coffee
What do you get when you take some of the world’s best coffee and then grow it organically? You have the best of the best. Hala Tree Coffee is grown organically in the heart of the Kona coffee growing area, in an area known for superior growing conditions and exceptional coffee. I know these farmers, and they have worked very hard and jumped through a lot of hoops to attain the designation of an organic farm. This means that they are stewards of the land and do not use pesticides and herbicides that not only taint the land and water, but as common sense would suggest, they also likely to be present in the food on which they are sprayed. So, if you are looking for an extraordinary organic coffee, check out Hala Tree.
In Shell Macadamia Nuts
Hawaii’s Best Mac Nuts has a wonderful story. The owners came to Hawaii Island from very different worlds and bought a macadamia nut farm on the east side of the island in some of the world’s best growing area for mac nuts. Not wanting to be a small fish in a big pond by selling their mac nuts to huge Mainland-based mac nut processors—the ones that fill the tourist shops with inexpensive chocolate covered mac nuts—they have been developing two product lines. The first is in shell mac nuts for pets. It turns out that macaws love mac nuts, and there is a good market for supplying nuts for birds. Another market they have is providing in shell nuts to shops for human consumptions. These nuts are very healthy and taste great out of the shell, which, by the way, is a tough nut to crack!
Tai Shan Farms, located in South Kona, is one of the largest local growers of Dragon Fruit on Hawaii Island. That not to imply that they are a huge conglomerate growing hundreds of acres of Dragon Fruit! This is a small, organic family farm that relies on WOOFERs for a lot their crop maintenance and harvesting.
Dragon Fruit is a sweet, delectable fruit that is certainly a treat for those who find it. It’s costly, but super healthy and simply delicious. They also have a lot of bees, which pollinate the Dragon Fruit and provide a good source of gourmet honey, which they sell on their website.
While you will certainly not fulfill your caloric need by buying organic Kona coffee, mac nuts or Dragon Fruit, you can do a lot to support local agriculture by supporting our local farmers. All three farms do an exceptional job of taking care of the environment through organic and sustainable agriculture practices.