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Although Hawaii is famous for its tropical fruit and poi, most of our island’s food is imported via shipping container. This fact is one of the driving forces behind Hawaii’s growing local food movement, where a dedicated array of farmers, ranchers, stores, restaurants and concerned consumers are coming together to boost our local food economy. It also can’t be argued that freshly picked and made food is so much more delicious (and nutritious!) than its packed-and-shipped counterparts.
Fresh produce just a few minutes from the Disney Aulani Resort.
One of the easiest ways for the public to have direct access to locally grown food is through farmers markets. Over the past few years, farmers markets have been popping up all over O’ahu, and one of the most recent ones to have opened is in the new community of Kapolei. Kapolei is located in Ewa, which is about 45 minutes away from Waikiki and a mere 10 minutes from the Aulani and Ko Olina Resorts. Makeke Kapolei, or Kapolei Market, was created in a partnership with Kapolei High School, Malama Learning Center and the Wai’anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Since most stores in the area don’t offer a large selection of local goods, one of the goals of the market is to bring fresh, local food to the community on a weekly basis.
I do the majority of my grocery shopping at farmers markets, and I was blown away by the selection and persity of the goodies at Makeke Kapolei. Fresh, vibrant produce was featured: from spinach to lettuce to beets; to bananas, rambutan and papayas. Sweet, juicy pineapples were also featured at a bargain price, 3 for $5! This booth also juiced pineapples on the spot for a refreshing drink and featured the dried fruit to take home.
Two important P’s: pineapples and peanut butter, fresh and made in Hawaii.
Makeke Kapolei features more than just produce, however. Local gifts such as beach glass jewelry are featured. Fresh caught local fish such as mahimahi and ahi are there. Big Island beef, fresh eggs, local butter from grass fed cows, fruity jams, peanut butter (try to coconut flavored one, its so ono, or delicious!), pancake mixes and homemade kimchee are just some of the delicious items available. If you’re in for a quick bite, an array of food trucks and vendors are there as well to cook up some ono local grinds that you can take back to your hotel room.
Every week the market has a different theme. Last week was “Healthy eating” and featured a live cooking demo and samples by a local health food store. This week’s theme is “Hawaiian culture.”
I spoke with Janice Staab, who is a coordinator of the market with the Malama Learning Center, in regards to tourists coming to Makeke Kapolei. “It is definitely important for visitors to come to farmers markets,” she said, “Here they can get directly involved in a local community and support the place they are visiting. Visitors also can get a taste of a more authentic side of Hawaii.”
So there you have it! For a truly authentic taste that will captivate your taste buds and memories, visit a farmers market! Not only are you supporting a local community, but you’re also treating yourself to a unique Hawaiian experience.
• Thursdays, 3pm-6:30pm • Kapolei High School Parking Lot