Living in the islands, it’s easy to forget about the mainland sometimes. That is, until you start thinking about how dependent we are on the rest of the country and world for so many things. The cost of living is extremely high here due to the high volume of imported goods, sky-high rent and expensive utility costs. Of course, we stay here because of all the wondrous benefits it offers us: gorgeous natural setting, the sparkling ocean, wonderful local produce and a welcoming spirit. To preserve what’s great about Hawaii, I’ve been on a mission to live as locally as possible. From frequenting farmer’s markets to buying locally made products like clothing and furniture, it’s all about making a lower impact globally while directly affecting your local economy.
Of course, many people only experience Hawaii as a visitor. This can mean getting swayed by tourist traps and chain restaurants out of convenience and familiarity are often the case. Experiencing a true taste of the islands is best achieved through visiting smaller towns, local organizations and family-owned restaurants.
Stay Local, Shop Local
Posting up in Honolulu is a natural choice for many. The large selection of Waikiki hotels, numerous beaches, shopping and nightlife make it a go-to spot for many travelers. Within the chain stores and imported goods vendors, there are many local spots to give your business. One of my favorite ways to do this is by visiting the three main farmer’s markets of Oahu – the Ala Moana market, Hale’iwa market and Hawaii Kai market.
The network of the markets makes creating a meeting place for the community its main priority, as well as becoming Oahu’s premiere green market. Along with locally grown, sustainably farmed produce, the markets boast zero waste stations and ask that all vendors use only bio-compostable utensils and plates. Produce from the mainland, China or anywhere else are strictly prohibited at the market. Vendors are scoped out well before being allowed to sell at the market, so locality of the produce is ensured. Experience the literal fruits of their labor and help benefit the entire island! And it’s not just fruits and vegetables, either. Numerous artists and musicians display their work here, offering a well-rounded, original experience.
Visit a Local Farm
The locavore movement heated up along the coasts of the United States, and it’s never been more popular in Hawaii. Oahu’s climate is great year-round for producing a variety of fruits and vegetables including Kahuku corn, mangoes, papayas, pineapple and Waimanalo greens. Not only are farmers markets popping up in all neighborhoods, you can also follow the entire farm to table process by taking a farm tour.
Throughout the islands, farms support a wide range of renowned restaurants with local produce. Top Hawaiian chefs are an integral part of this partnership and have gotten behind the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement in earnest. Many Oahu hotels feature local cuisine that can make your stay an exercise in local investment.
Courtesy of Leslie To of Aqua Resorts