Saying Goodbye To My Culinary Hero: Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

“I wanted to write in Kitchenese, the secret language of cooks, instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dunked french fries for a summer job or suffered under the despotic rule of a tyrannical chef or boobish owner.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

The world lost an amazing man today.

When I was 19, in culinary school and started working in restaurants, Kitchen Confidential came out and changed my life.

Cooking in kitchens became something to be proud of. Not because everyone started idolizing chefs and started paying more attention to them (which they did), but because it became so much easier to no longer give a fuck about what others thought. Why you stopped hanging out on weekends, why you started missing every family holiday, why you had burns all over your arms and didn’t care, why you decided against college and a “normal” life to work long hours, get dirty every night and destroy your body instead.

Kitchen confidential make me proud and excited to be entering into the restaurant industry. It made me understand it more clearly. The chapters “Who cooks?” and “So you want to be a chef” had me smiling and nodding my head the entire time. This guy was speaking our language. A language that most people didn’t understand. I gave the book to my Mom to read when I first got into the restaurant industry, so she could understand. And she did. It probably saved us a lot of hard talks, and saved her a lot of hurt feelings and confusion.

Anthony said “line cooks are the heroes”, which made us feel like all the 15 hour days working for 12 bucks and hour was worth it. For practically all of us who were (or still are) cooks and chefs it made us feel respected as professionals, and not just the misfits that couldn’t (and didn’t want to) hack it in “normal” jobs or social situations.

He didn’t glamorize the disfunctionality of the restaurant business, he just called it like it was.

Anthony (or Tony as most chefs called him) not only inspired me to be a chef, but a writer too. He is a true master of words. He gave people like me, who had no education in writing and a colorful vocabulary “permission” to write and use the word fuck and shit, and not care what other people thought about it.

He is the reason chef memoirs (and chef writing in general) is so popular and relevant today.

He is the reason we have travel food shows. His respect for people’s cultures and food preparations taught us to start thinking out of our American box, get off our soapboxes, shut our mouths and start learning from people from other countries. Because that’s how you become a better chef and a better person.

Even though I didn’t know Tony, he was a mentor to me. He was a huge influence in my career, even still to this day, after leaving the industry. I feel like I lost a close friend. I definitely lost my culinary hero.

Rest in peace chef. You have left an eternal legacy that no-one will ever be able to replicate.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

My Trip To Ma’o Farms

Mao farms

Mao farmsI’ve never felt as warm and fuzzy about a farm, as I do for Ma’o Farms.

After shopping with them regularly, for a year at the farmers market, I finally made it over to Wai’anae for a farm tour.

Mao farms

Ma’o Farms is not just your average farm. They are a non-profit with a mission to empower and train underprivileged youth to become entrepreneurs and leaders. They succeed at this, all while helping to create a healthier, more sustainable food system in Hawaii. It creates an opportunity for both the land and the community to thrive. I invite you to learn more about their social enterprise here.

Mao farms

We had two tour guides showing us around the 25 acre farm: Hiwa, the daughter of the owners of Ma’o Farms, and Josh, who leads a small team of farmers, doing everything from harvesting to processing vegetables.

Ma'o Farms

We started the tour with a debriefing of sorts, similar to the way the farmers and interns start their day every morning. As we stood in a circle (symbolizing the seamless circle of life) we introduced ourselves, and talked about our intentions for coming on the tour and what we were there to learn.

Mao farms
A wall hand-made of rocks and soil lines the perimeter of the morning and evening gathering place.

The first stop was the green house where baby plants get their start. Many of the greens they plant out in the field, and even ulu (breadfruit) trees get their start here, before being transferred into the ground.

Ma'o Farms
Full grown ulu tree, just starting to bear fruit

The green house provides protection from pests and wind when these plants are still in their most vulnerable stages. Hiwa reminded us that Ma’o farms is situated right in the middle of a crater, which can act as a wind tunnel, with winds sometimes getting up to 50 miles per hour. Wind this strong would rip baby plants right out of the ground if planted to soon.

Mao farms

But, being in a crater has its advantages too. The type of soil here (vertisol)  is one of the top three most nutrient dense in the world. Because of its high clay content it gets rock solid and cracks when dry. These cracks allow for more water and nutrients to be absorbed and locked in when wet.

Ma'o Farms
There are 12 types of soil in the world. Ma’o Farms has one of the top 3 most nutrient dense types.

Ma’o has an interesting fertilizing system too. They use both bonemeal made from fish bones, as well as a method of burning weeds to put nutrients back into the soil after harvesting. My imagination raced as Hiwa described a tractor driving through the fields with flames shooting out the back.

When asked if they ever worried about the infamous, rat lungworm disease that tends to affect organic farms in Hawaii, Hiwa said they didn’t seem to have many issues with it. This disease is carried by snails and slugs that like wet conditions, and since it tends to be drier where they are, they don’t often see them around.

Ma'o Farms

When it comes to pests, cabbage moths can be an issue for their kale. They use a natural citrus herbicide very sparingly for this, since it can cause the kale to turn yellow and create holes in the leaves.

Ma'o Farms
Sampling Lacinato kale straight out of the ground
Ma'o Farms
Lacinato kale, also known as dino kale or cavalo nero

When it comes to controlling weeds, Ma’o uses what they call a black weed mat. When the sun hits these mats, they heat up and essentially burn the weeds out.

Ma'o Farms
A black mat is used to control weeds

Ma’o used to be a huge chicken farm back in the day. The two former chicken coops are now processing plants filled with interns washing and packaging vegetables to be delivered.

Ma’o has the ability to track every seed they plant, all the way until they are delivered. It’s a food safety precaution. This way if someone were to get sick they could track back to the field where the plant was grown to find out if it had somehow been contaminated.

Ma'o Farms
The processing shed
Ma'o Farms
Baby red beets
Ma'o Farms
Baby carrots

On the way out we caught a glimpse of what Ma’o calls, “the chef’s garden”. Still in its early phases, this project will soon be available for local chefs to virtually choose what they want Ma’o to grow for their restaurants.

Ma'o Farms
The chef’s garden

Ma’o sells their produce wholesale to restaurants, at farmer’s markets, in local grocery stores and through their CSA program. CSA members often get the prime picks and speciality items that aren’t available to anyone else.

When we completed the tour we came back around to where we had originally started, standing in a circle. Hiwa explained that, like the start of the day, they finish their day back in the circle to rehash the day’s work and plan for the next.

Ma'o Farms
What Michelle Obama has nicknamed “the Queens road”.

It was a reminder of  how much importance they put on the development of their interns, the though that goes behind the running of the farm and the spiritual aspect of their organization.

It truly is admirable, what Ma’o Farms provides for their people and for the land.

Ma'o Farms
The driveway leading into Ma’o farms is lined with kalo (taro), a sacred crop believed to be the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people.
Ma'o Farms
Ma’o Farms, a place rich in mana and built with love.

Have you visited Ma’o Farms? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Ma’o Organic Farms

86-148 Pūhāwai Rd.
Wai‘anae, Hawaiʻi 96792

808-696-5569

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

Variety Showcase Comes To Oahu

variety showcase

variety showcase

Farmers, chefs and food geeks flocked to this year’s Variety Showcase on Oahu. The annual event, which usually takes place in Portland, came to Hawaii for the first time this year on March 13, 2018.

The event gives attendees the opportunity to taste vegetable, legume and grain varieties, that are still being tested, it gives chefs the opportunity to cook with them, and it invites a discussion with the plant breeders, informing them on consumer preferences.

These plant breeders develop seeds that thrive under organic farming conditions, produce excellent flavor and can handle specific growing conditions.

Once the new varieties of crops are bred they are sent to the farmers to test along side other varieties that they are already growing.

I remarked when I first got to the event how I have noticed that the variety of ingredients being offered at the farmers markets has increase dramatically over the past few years. Kathy from Mohala Farms agreed, saying she believed that, “the new generation of farmers in Hawaii are the ones who are responsible for bringing all of these exciting new crops to the island.”

Jay Bost from GoFarm Hawaii and Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network, an organization whose mission “is to build community among plant breeders, farmers and consumers to improve culinary and agricultural quality” hosted the event at Kapiolani Community College. KCC is well known for it’s outstanding culinary program and weekly farmers market, sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau.

At the event, each ingredient was represented by either a farm, co-op or representative of the University of Hawaii that grew the ingredient along side a chef showcasing several varieties of each ingredients to try on their own as well as in a prepared dish.

All of the dishes prepared were innovative, expertly crafted and delicious. To put it bluntly, I thought the chefs f*cking brought it!

Thanks to GoFarm, The Organic Seed Alliance and farms like Counter Culture who pushed to bring this event to Hawaii, we got to experience something truly unique, special and delicious. I would not be surprised if this event shows up again next year, three times as big. It was a huge success.

Here are some of the highlights (although truly, each table was just as good as the next):

One of the most promising and exciting crops being bred for tropical and organic growing conditions is the mild habanero pepper, since peppers are notorious for being hard to grow in Hawaii.

Bryan and Natalie, the owners of De La Mesa Urban Farm, highlighted the habaneros in two dishes: A pureed habanero salsa made with guijillo and arbol chiles (this would make a killer taco sauce) served with tortilla chips they made with hand ground Waimanalo yellow corn that they turned into tortillas and deep fried and a ceviche made of fresh marlin, Kauai shrimp, pickled habaneros, jicama and pineapple.

Chef Ed Kenny offered us a side by side comparison between two different polentas. One made with Guisto’s, a respectable northern California brand and the other made with a polenta made with Nalo orange corn, bred in Waimanalo. The polenta made with Nalo orange corn was noticeably sweeter, had more character and a rounder flavor.

variety showcase

variety showcase

Chef Keake Lee from Pig and the Lady created a dish of pickled purple winged beans and cold “Poamoho dark long” eggplant marinated in a black vinegar dashi broth, garnished with fresh basil. Everything Pig and the Lady does in my option is bold, creative and crazy delicious.  This dish was no exception.

variety showcase

The crew from Counter Culture had a strong presence, with several tables. They presented a mind boggling selection of legumes, jicama, and bananas.

variety showcase

variety showcase

variety showcase

Chef David Gunawam from the Farmer’s Apprentice came all the way from Canada to participate in the event and cook. He prepared Hirayama kai choy, paired with a slice of raw skipjack, seasoned with a house-made vinaigrette made by simmering skipjack bones with seaweed and soy sauce.

In addition, he presented Counter Culture’s black beans, which he marinated with culantro and charred scallion, and their chickpeas, which he flavored with Hawaiian shallot and herbs from Green Rows Farm.

variety showcase

Chef Scott Nelson of Vida Farms also cooked for Counter Culture and prepared a crepe made “sourdough style” with fermented jicama and stuffed it with raw slices of sweet jicama and hibiscus jam. It was divine.

variety showcase

Lauren Tamamoto, instructor at KCC blew everyone’s mind with her cauliflower chocolate mousse made of cauliflower, cocoa powder, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla extract. It was velvety smooth and tasted like the chocolate pudding of your childhood (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Variety_showcase2018

Chef Jenn Hee from Juicy Brew grated cassava, soaked it in golden milk, turned them into hash browns and wrapped each piece in a piper sarmentosom leaf to showcase yellow cassava.

variety showcase

Chef Stacey Givens from the Side Yard Farm & Kitchen came out to represent Portland with her spiced carrot cookies stuffed with Side Yard Farms goat cheese, fig leaf dust and crispy fried carrot tops. Again, mind blown.

variety showcase

Chef Edward Domingo from Roy’s Beach House made a dish I could eat all day long. Moringa fried rice with lechon lomi lomi. Crack an egg on top and you’ve got the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner in my opinion.

An award winning variety of cacao, called Easton was presented by Skip Bittenbender of University of Hawaii. Manoa chocolate made a decadent 70% chocolate bar for sampling.

variety showcase

Robynne Maii, chef/owner of Fete, showcased broccoli using my favorite preparation, roasted with chile flake, garlic and lemon. I love the crispness and the nuttiness of this dish. Robynne made it even more complex by adding capers, golden raisins and crispy parmesan on top. She also presented Tromboncino squash pickled and served with local mint, roasted kukui nut and feta cheese.

variety showcase

Nina, from Nina Cucina Health (who’s food I miss dearly at the farmers market), took us on a journey of turmeric. Several varieties were pickled and put out for sampling and to wash it all down she made a lovely soup made with turmeric and coconut milk.

variety showcase

variety showcase

variety showcase

Hannah Vernon, from Home Cooked With Love, presented  Manoa and Leopard lettuces with a vegan creamy Italian dressing made with local herbs, Dijon mustard and olive oil for dipping.

variety showcase

On my way out the door I luckily caught Gabe Sachter-Smith, banana expert and farmer for Counter Culture, showing off his several varieties of tropical bananas.  Chef Janna Rose, from the Mossback Restaurant in Washington was scooping up banana ice-cream and vegan banana-chocolate chip cookie right along side him.

I had just talked to Gabe the Saturday before the event at the farmers market. He was the one who got me the most excited about the event in the first place. So it was fitting that, I ended the evening on a sweet note, wrapping the night up with him.

variety showcase

I’ve never seen so many happy faces in one room. The passion was swirling that night .Everyone involved in the event was there for the same reason. To continue to push for a healthier, tastier and more sustainable food system in Hawaii. One with a lot of variety.

Did you have an amazing time at this year’s Variety Showcase too? What did you learn, what inspired you? What was your favorite dish and why? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavorefor more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 18, 2018 and has since been updated for accuracy. 

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

A Year of Ingredients

year of ingredients
year of ingredients
Photo by Ketino Photography

2017 was a year of new discoveries after moving from San Francisco to Honolulu. But, I have only begun to scratch the surface of what these beautiful islands have to offer.

In 2018 I am starting a new project, that I am calling, A Year of Ingredients. A project inspired by the talented Bay Area artist, Windy Chien, who in 2016 introduced The Year of Knots.

Windy surprised me in Waikiki, the day before New Year’s Eve, gifting me with one of her famous knots (they are works of art really). And not just any knot, the star knot. A knot she admittedly had such a hard time learning she had to resort to watching a YouTube tutorial before throwing in the towel. At the time I marveled at its beauty but hadn’t yet realized its significance.

After hearing all about Windy’s inspirational journey of committing to her art every day without fail for an entire year I sprung out of bed the next morning knowing in my gut what I needed to do.

I needed to commit to my passion for local food on another level, in order to become the expert I wanted to be.

Starting January 1, 2018 follow me on Instagram as I introduce a local Hawaiian ingredient, and how to prepare it, every day for a whole year.

It might be one of the most challenging projects I have ever committed to, but I’m doing it for the knowledge, for the love of food and for my deepest appreciation for all things local. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Join me here for A Year of Ingredients on Instagram.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

Producing Pastured Chicken And Influencing Change On Oahu

J. Ludovico Farm pastured chicken
J. Ludovico Farm pastured chicken
Julius Ludovico talks chicken with fellow farmer, Amy Shinsato at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market

If you walk over to the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on a Wednesday night you will see rows of white tents, tables full of fresh local fruits and vegetables, the Shinsatos selling 2Lady farmers’ pork and groups huddled around picnic tables slurping up hot bowls of pho at The Pig and the Lady stand.

If you aren’t paying close enough attention you would never know that you can also buy fresh local chicken at this market. In fact, it’s most likely the only farmer’s market on Oahu where you will find local pastured chicken.

At a modest table with no signage, probably scattered with some jars of honey and bunches of apple bananas, you will find a man with a long beard and thick black rimmed glasses named Julius. Julius owns and operates J. Ludovico farm, a chicken farm, slaughterhouse and processing facility on Oahu.

Tired from a long week of working on the farm, you will soon discover that Julius enjoys working the farmer’s market because it is essentially the only way he ever gets to take a “break”.

Almost every week I come down to the market to buy a chicken and chat with Julius. We talk about natural farming, how he got into the chicken business and what his hopes and dreams are for his farm. He’s a smart man. He is also extremely thoughtful when it comes to his business and delightfully unapologetic when it comes to his opinions on natural farming.

The inside scoop

Not everyone always makes the time to stick around and get to know their local farmer. Which is a shame. You may have the best intentions to buy healthy foods or support local businesses, but until you engage, chances are you know pretty close to nothing about what you are buying or who you are supporting. In the past 6 months of getting to know Julius and his farm I have learned a lot about natural farming and why it is really damn hard to find pastured chicken on the island.

Julius’s farm is a rare breed on Oahu and his story is remarkable.

You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy

Julius grew up in the Philippines raising pigs with his Mom. He remembers always raising them with the intention to have one to eat and one to sell. When the family picked up and moved to Hawaii all of that changed. Julius became an accounting major at the University of Hawaii and found himself working for a non-profit called The Partners In Development Foundation.

But, Julius missed his days growing up, raising pigs. So, it wasn’t surprising that after being introduced to the principals of Korean natural farming by Hawaiian agriculture expert, Mike Dupont at work one year he decided to quit the company and go back to farming.

The next year, Julius and his wife Jamie moved to a one and a half acre farm in Pupukea and bought 16 pigs. They were the second farm on the island to practice Korean natural farming. A system that utilizes naturally occurring bacteria and other microorganisms to fertilize soil and care for animals without chemicals. The result is healthy soil, high crop yields, zero waste and animal pens that don’t smell or attract flies.

Although they were smaller and simpler versions, Julius built five pens modeled after the Korean natural farming system that he learned about from Mike.

Eventually Julius realized that what he had built was a labor of love. The couple realized that they could never scale the operation large enough to make a profit. So, reluctantly Julius sold off all of his pigs.

How Julius “accidentally” became a chicken farmer

After selling off the pigs, Jamie suggested that they try their hand at raising chickens. Julius, being open to the suggestion, agreed and five months later they owned 50 hens all laying eggs.

Baffled as to what to do with all the eggs, Julius went over to his kid’s elementary school and signed up to work the North Shore Country farmer’s market.

After completely selling out at his first market, Julius realized that there was a big demand there for local, pastured eggs. The couple bought more chickens, produced more eggs and kept adding more and more markets to their schedule every week. The hustle was real and ultimately they just couldn’t keep up with the demand. Completely exhausted and burned out, Julius started cutting back, finally only committing to one market a week, The Honolulu farmer’s market at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

One day a fellow friend and farmer of Julius’s was placing an order for some meat chickens. He asked Julius if he was interested in buying any. Julius was on the fence but his friend insisted, saying that since he was already going to buy some that he may as well order some for Julius too.

Julius opted to raise pastured chickens using the Korean natural farming practices he had used with his pigs. He asked the farmer’s market if it was ok to started selling his chickens along with his eggs. Being naïve at the time he didn’t realize that he would need special permits in order to sell his chickens. Now Julius had a new problem, he had to track down the USDA FSIS supervisor to find out how he could acquire a permit.

After searching for the supervisor for two months Julius had to laugh at himself. He had actually been living next door to him all along. The supervisor told Julius exactly what to do, he did it and a few months later Julius was in the chicken business.

From the farm to the table

The first restaurant Julius approached was Real Gastropub. He brought them a sample of his chicken and, after finding out if they were interested, disclosed that it would be two months until he could produce their first order. Real agreed and after just one delivery the chef was hooked. He no longer wanted a few chickens every couple of months, he wanted 12 chickens a week.

Julius realized he had a problem on his hands. He had the demand, but since the chickens took two months to grow, he didn’t have the supply for a weekly delivery. After a lot of thinking and researching Julius finally figured out how to make it happen. That is when the real chicken production started.

A year later Andrew Le from The Pig and The Lady called up. They had heard about Julius’s chickens and wanted in. Real Gastropub had officially put J. Ludovico farm on the map. They were now the go-to for pastured chicken and all the high end restaurants on Oahu wanted it on their menu.

Controversy at the market

As the farm to table movement grew more popular on Oahu so did the demand for local, organic ingredients. Customers at the market started coming up to Julius looking for his certified organic sign. When Julius informed them that he was not indeed certified, they looked at him confused (even repulsed sometimes) and would keep walking.

“My farm is not certified organic nor do I plan to get certified”, he says. “I feel like there are other ways to do it. It may come down to a little bit more education or information but I’m not getting certified, it’s too expensive.”

I know from my talks with Julius that he does not use fertilizer or chemicals. In fact, chemicals scare him. He moves his birds everyday. They eat grass and worms in addition to commercial grain.

He admits he gets frustrated sometimes having to explain to people about his natural farming practices only to get shut down by customers who don’t understand.

“Just because something is labeled organic it does not mean that it is chemical and pesticide free. In fact, there are synthetic chemicals on that registry that the organic lobbyists petition the USDA to keep. When you are doing small-scale agriculture (like in your backyard) you don’t need chemicals or pesticides. But when you are farming on a larger scale (even just an acre) there are certain challenges that you are never going to have a solution to without pesticides. The use of organic bacteria (such as BT ) used for pesticides is regular practice on many certified organic farms”, Julius explained.

The other question Julius is inevitably always asked is if he gives his chickens GMO feed. “When people ask me if the corn I feeds my chickens is GMO I say, I don’t know but, it is likely, since unfortunately 96% of all corn in America is now GMO”, he says.

Tired of being told week after week from customers that he should feed his chickens non-GMO feed, he decided to look into it. “I dug deep”, he said. “I looked at the literature on the Non-GMO project’s non-GMO feed. And what I found out is that, they have a threshold. Let’s say they get a container of corn for example, they take a sample and do a PCR test on it and if it doesn’t go beyond 10%, meaning if there is 10% GMO in that batch of corn they will label it “non-GMO.” I though about this and realized that if I bought the non-GMO feed I would be paying a premium, have to raise my prices and my feed could still potentially contain GMOs. I just didn’t feel comfortable with that.”

Julius says he no longer engages with customers who turn their noses up to his natural, yet not certified organic, chicken unless they ask the right questions. “I don’t have time to educate everyone and if someone is stuck in their ways or uninformed then that’s their fault. I’m not here to educate them, I’m here to feed my family”, Julius says.

Luckily, as I have found out on my own, if you do ask and you do seem interested than Julius will tell you everything you want to know.

Desperately trying for sustainable farming in Hawaii

A while back Julius was teaching and taking frequent trips to the Big Island. Mike Dupont invited him, several other local farmers and a couple of the animal nutrition experts from the University of Hawaii to a meeting in Hilo. What they discussed at this meeting was, “What do we have in Hawaii in abundance and what can we do with it?”

Julius left the meeting intrigued and curious. Two years would pass before he and Mike would be reconnected. Julius asked Mike, “What happened to the ideas we came up with at that meeting?” Mike told Julius that he analyzed the list of ingredients and created a data base. Without hesitation, Julius said, “I’m farming chickens, lets do a feed trial.” Mike agreed to it.

Working with a local mill Julius proved that if his farm milled it’s own feed locally, cutting out the need for shipping, than they could cut their costs in half.

Now came the hard part. Getting the feed just right.

It is not a matter of just finding ingredients that are in abundance. It’s also a matter of creating a blend of ingredients that creates the perfect balance of nutrients for the chickens to thrive on.

From talking to Julius I learned that there is a reason why commercial feed is made up of soy, corn and wheat (farm subsidies for GMO crops also play a role I’m sure). The combination provides the exact amount of protein, carbs and fiber needed for a chicken’s diet. Julius’s challenge is to find local ingredients that would replace each of those without disrupting that formula.

“We have tried macadamia nuts and they are amazing. They are high in protein but can only replace about 35 percent of the soybeans. Anything more than that and the chickens do not do well. They just don’t have the same amount of protein that the soybeans do. Next, is replacing the wheat and corn. We are currently doing a cassava trial to see if that could replace the wheat. But there are certain properties of corn that are irreplaceable, so if you want to replace corn you need to have a few different ingredients. The corn doesn’t necessarily make the chickens grow bigger but the carbs do give them the energy they need”, Julius said.

Julius wondered why they couldn’t just make a blend of cassava, macadamia nuts, corn and soy so that they could at least eliminate the need to ship over wheat. Mike explained to him that they can’t do that quite yet. They need to do trials with each ingredient separately first to isolate the nutrients and find out what each ingredient does exactly for the chickens. He said that sometimes combining certain ingredients can potentially turn them into anti-nutrients, which cancel each other out.

Once they tested each ingredient separately than they could start formulating a feed recipe. Julius says, “If we had the funds we would have the information we needed by now and would already be producing locally grown feed, but as it is now the trial has been dragged out the past 4 years and it could probably take several more.”

As it stands right now, Julius and Mike are the only ones doing this trial and it is completely self funded. When Julius applied for a grant he was told, “Sorry, we aren’t interested. Even if you are successful the country won’t benefit from it since it will only work in Hawaii.”

Julius did the math, if he grew all of the crops in order to make his own chicken feed he would lose money. “You’re better of selling what you grow”, he said with a defeated look.

It was then, that it really sunk in for me. Commercial feed exists for a reason and it is extremely difficult to change that reason.

Julius says, “We may have the same commercial feed that conventional farms use but since we are not a factory we handle everything by hand and produce a better quality product. It’s kinda cheesy to say but, we actually care. We know the chicks from the time we pick them up at the hatchery day old to harvesting them and taking them to the slaughterhouse. We know them intimately. There is a certain connection that we have that factory farms never will. When you put in the effort and care about what you are doing it shows in the final product.”

How you can support local farming

Julius encourages people to develop relationships with their farmers. “Get to know what they do and how they do it. Just because they are doing something different from what you think (or have heard) they should be, doesn’t mean that they aren’t putting out a good product or that it’s wrong. There is a good reason for what they do. Every farmer has their own quirks and special ways of doing things. In Hawaii there are so many microclimates that you have to adapt accordingly. You have to make it work where you’re at. One of the things that makes us not a factory farm is the fact that it can’t be replicated on another side of the island. You have to always observe and adjust according to your environment. Your farming practices and feed are changing constantly. You have to be quick because you could lose product. I never say what other farms should do, I just know what I need to do for my farm.”

Just the facts

J. Ludovico Farm has the only chicken slaughterhouse on the island. They encourage more farms on Oahu to raise chickens and partner with them. You grow the chickens and Julius will slaughter and processes them for you.

Some of the top restaurants in Honolulu have J. Ludovico Farm chicken on their menus. Pig and the lady, Piggy Smalls, Fete, Herringbone, Basalt, MW, and Chef Mavro are just a few of them.

You can find Julius every Wednesday at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market at the Neil S. Blaisdell Center from 4-7pm. 777 Ward Avenue Honolulu, HI 96814

Customers who are interested in purchasing one of Julius’s chickens are encouraged to pre-order them. Julius does not store any frozen product. He slaughters on demand, so what you order on Friday, gets slaughtered Tuesday to pick up at the market on Wednesday.

You can email your request to jludivicofarm@gmail.com the weekend before a Wednesday market. Whole chickens are $6/lb

For more information on what J. Ludovico Farm has to offer visit their website at https://jludovicofarm.com/shop/

You can also follow them on Instagram @jludavicofarm

When asked about farm tours Julius got very serious and said, “Sure, we are happy to give you a tour but you better be prepared to show up at 5am and work the farm with us all day.” The same goes for the slaughterhouse. They would more than appreciate volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays to come lend a hand. But a word of advice, if Julius tells you to move, you better get out of his way.

Are you excited about local farming on Oahu? Which farms are you proud to support? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

Maui For Foodies

Punakea Palms

Punakea Palms

The road to Hana is paved with…….not enough restaurants!

Sure, there is world class snorkeling, humpback whale watching and the infamous road to Hana. But, if you are a chef or a foodie like me you plan your trips around food and squeeze those things in if there is extra time!

If you find that ludicrous than this particular travel guide is not for you. There will be no beach recommendations or ocean excursions mentioned here. There will, however be a boatload of restaurants, farms and places to buy good booze in this post. Hey, even healthy locavores need to have fun too.

This is Maui for foodies.

Plane from Honolulu to Lahaina
Plane from Honolulu to Lahaina

If you are coming over from Honolulu chances are you’ll be wedged in a puka shell sized puddle-jumper such as the one pictured above. I recommend flying into Lahaina to avoid the hoards of tourists at the bigger and busier Kahului Airport on the other side of the island.

But be prepared, other than a tarmac and glorified hot dog stand you won’t find any amenities at this airport. Have a ride lined up or you’ll be walking to your hotel. Rental cars are a must have on this island.

Lahaina (West Maui)

The towns up and down the west side of Maui, including Lahaina are no doubt some of the most picturesque on the island. Large banyan trees, beautiful beach parks and views of Lana’i and Moloka’i line the coast.

We opted for an oceanfront Airbnb at the Kaleialoha Vacation Rentals for our accommodations. It was a cute little one bedroom with beach access, spacious lanai and fully stocked kitchen. There was a sea turtle that swam around below us every morning.

Airbnb in Lahaina
The lanai at our Kaleialoha vacation rental
Airbnb in Lahaina
View from our Kaleialoha vacation rental

Places to eat near Lahaina

Choice Health Bar

This is a great place to stop for a healthy vegan breakfast, lunch or (non-alchololic and sugar free) power drink. All of the produce used on the menu here is organic and handpicked locally. Menu selections include things like overnight oats, chia pudding, pad thai, kale and quinoa buddha bowls, acai bowls, smoothies and shots of noni juice.

Choice Health Bar
Overnight oats at Choice Health Bar

Merriman’s Kapalua

When you are ready for pau hana (happy hour) and an epic sunset, cruise over to  Merriman’s and grab a spot at the bar overlooking Kapalua Bay. Peter Merriman is one of the founding fathers of Hawaiian cuisine and helped pioneer the farm to table concept here. 90% of the food at this restaurant is locally sourced.

And they make a damn good man tai too.

Merriman's Lahaina
Merriman’s Lahaina

Lahaina Grill

If you are craving classic, old world inspired cuisine and are having a foie gras void in your life (like I was) than this is where you come. It’s not cutting edge but it is decadent. Think escargot, Wagyu beef ravioli with black truffle, filet mignon and lobster. Pro tip – Order a few things to share for the table and a nice glass of wine and leave it at that. This place can get pricy.

Seared Ahi and Hudson Valley Foie Gras at Lahaina Grill
Seared Ahi and Hudson Valley Foie Gras at Lahaina Grill
Marcho Farms Veal "Osso Buco" at Lahaina Grill
Marcho Farms Veal “Osso Buco” at Lahaina Grill

The Mill House

Hands down my favorite restaurant on the island.

Tucked inside the Maui Tropical Plantation through a path of botanical gardens and fountains made of old sugarcane cogs you will find one of the most beautiful restaurants on Maui. And the best part? They farm the majority of the produce they use on site. The rest all comes from other parts of the island. Everything including the unbelievable table bread (buttery Hawaiian dinner rolls and rustic sourdough rye? Come on!) and delicate pastas are made in house. Hats off to chef Jeff Scheer. You nailed it.

The Mill House
The botanical gardens at Maui Tropical Plantation
The Mill House
The Mill House
The Mill House
The Mill House
Local Fish Crudo & Mortadella Musubi at The Mill House
Local Fish Crudo & Mortadella Musubi at The Mill House
Chicken Bao Buns & Pork Shank Rillette at The Mill House
Chicken Bao Buns & Pork Shank Rillette at The Mill House
Greens from the farm at The Mill House
Greens and root vegetables from the farm with carrot puree and lemon vinaigrette  at The Mill House
Local fish at The Mill House
Local fish, coconut-cucumber curry and spicy papaya salad at The Mill House
Bone Marrow with Braised Taro Leaf Risotto at The Mill House
Bone Marrow with Braised Taro Leaf Risotto at The Mill House
Chocolate dessert at The Mill House
Chocolate mousse and banana ice-cream with candied cashew at The Mill House

Punakea Palms

Just a man and his coconuts….

On the surface it would appear that Punakea Palms sells farm tours. But, after taking a tour here I know now that what they are actually providing is an educational experience in natural farming,  sustainability and the health benefits of coconuts.

This is a family owned and run operation. In fact, the owners live on the property so what you are basically taking a tour of is their back yard.

Punakea Palms
The view from Punakea Palms

The owner’s son, Kai is the mastermind behind the coconut groves here. He is both the farmer and the tour guide. Kai starts the tour by giving you some background on the land in which you are standing from. Old sugarcane fields. Or more importantly, soil that has been heavily depleted from hundreds of years of burning the land to harvest sugarcane.

It is from here that you realize that Kai and his family aren’t growing coconuts so much to sell (there is surprisingly not a big enough market and coconut products are too labor intensive to be profitable) as they are to save the land.

They now grow halloa ( a legume) on the land which nourishes the soil with nitrogen providing the dry, scorched land with moisture. They water the palms with water from the valley that carries nutrients with it as disperses through the farm. They have planted pine trees on the property to encourage more rain, helping to restore the ecosystem of the land back to the rainforest it once was before being turned into sugarcane fields.

Kai goes on to explain that coconut palms are indigenous to Hawaii and were the first trees to sprout up when the islands were first being formed by volcanos. They require warm tropical climates with a lot of rainfall, about 20 gallons of water everyday to be exact. He said that the coconuts themselves act as seeds. They fall from the tree and with sun and moisture they set roots and sprout up.

Punakea Palms
Punakea Palms

From here Kai goes into harvest times and how to check what stage the coconut is in when picked.

At 5 months (or less) the coconuts are not ready. The water is a bit sour and the meat is underdeveloped, like jelly.

At 6 months the coconuts are young and the meat is starting to firm up.

Prime harvest time for coconut water is  7 months. The coconuts will be heavy and when shaken you will hear water sloshing around inside of it. The meat at this point is the perfect texture to scrape out and eat with a spoon.

If making coconut milk is what you desire than you wait until the coconuts are firm, dry and light in weight.

As we sat on the grass under a shady tree (which you will need to take advantage of since it gets very hot on this farm) Kai cracked coconuts and continued to educate us while we sipped fresh coconut water from bamboo straws.

Water fresh from a coconut is a flavor you will never find in any bottled version. Even if the brand uses non-heated methods for pasteurization.

Kai also dispelled the myth that pink coconut water occurs in nature. Apparently it is only  a result of pasteurization.

Punakea Palms
Punakea Palms

Kai finishes the tour by teaching the group some of the ways to process coconuts for eating and drinking. He’ll show you how to use a traditional coconut stool shredder to grate the meat out of mature coconuts. You’ll also get to try your hand at using a more modern coconut meat removal tool to carve out the meat  to make coconut milk with.

Making coconut milk is a surprisingly simple, yet labor intensive process, that involves carving out the meat from a mature coconut, pureeing it in a blender with a mix of coconut water and filtered water and then squeezing it through a nut bag.

The milk that comes out is rich and delicious and will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge. The coconut meat that you capture in the nut bag by straining off the milk can be dried and made into coconut flour.

Punakea Palms
Making fresh coconut milk at Punakea Palms

Kahului

What can I say, it’s the city the major airport for the island is located in.

Tin Roof

If you are a foodie, no trip to Maui is complete without a stop to the infamous Chef Sheldon Simeon’s, Tin Roof.

You may remember him from Top Chef season 10 and 14. He is on tap to host the new season of, YouTube show, Cooking in America and his new restaurant HALA this fall. I even hear he is planning to open a Tin Roof on Oahu. Fingers crossed!

His menu is a playful take on your typical Hawaiian plate lunch restaurant. He of course uses local meats, fish, produce and artisan made products and prides himself on making “honest” food for his community.

His Mochica chicken is addictive. Crunchy and tender,  glazed with a sweet sauce, furikake and asian rice crackers. The Pork belly is succulent and flavorful. Sides include things like spicy kale salad, ‘ulu mac salad, saimin noodles that you can get dry or with broth and what is called a dime bag (I’ve heard rumors on what people think this is – some say it is a mixture of crumbled up rice crackers, doritios, furikake and spices).

Save room for dessert because they carry Pono Pies! Ridiculously good vegan and gluten free pies made with breadfruit. I tried the banana-coconut cream version and it was amazing.

Heads up these guys are only open 10am-2pm, they’re closed on Sundays and there is probably going to be a long line.

Actually, do yourself a favor, if you are flying out of the Kahului airport stop by here first to get some ono flight “grinds”!

…and don’t forget to throw down a few bucks for the Pau Hana Fund. (That’s the cash pot for after work beers for all you civilians.)

Tin Roof
Tin Roof
Mochica chicken, Saimin, Pork Belly, Mac-Ulu Salad and Banana-Coconut cream Pono Pie from Tin Roof
Mochica chicken, Saimin, Pork Belly, Mac-Ulu Salad and Banana-Coconut cream Pono Pie from Tin Roof
Pono pie
Banana-coconut Pono pie

Upcountry

No foodie trip to Maui is complete without a tour of upcountry. As you drive out to the countryside away from the coast, climb higher in elevation to the center of the island and up the Haleakala crater you will find farms rich in volcanic soil, stunning views and paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys).

Pa’ia –

Pa’ia is where upcountry starts farthest north by the coast. It is a quaint little hippie, surfing town full of great dining options, an organic health food store and lots of boutique shopping right on the edge of one of the best windsurfing beach in the world.

Milagros

If you’re only in town one night grab dinner at Milagros. A Mom and Pop establishment serving some of the best Mexican food in Hawaii (believe me, in Hawaii it’s hard to come by). Grab a margarita and some enchiladas or fish tacos out on the patio and let the people watching commence.

Makawao –

This is known as cowboy country. In the days of King Kamehameha the third he sent vaqueros (Spanish cowboys) from California to come and teach the Hawaiians how to wrangle their cattle. Up until WWII this town provided supplies to neighboring farms and went all but dormant until a resurgence in the 80’s brought in upscale retail, yoga studios and hip eateries….and of course, there is a cowboy museum too.

T. Komoda Bakery

Legendary bakery specializing in donuts, dinner rolls and their famous cream puffs. Locals say get there early. Past 10 or 11am they just about sell out of everything.

Hali’imaile

This tiny town is only a few miles long and is mostly made up of a few must see businesses…

Hali’imaile Distilling Company

Home of Pau Vodka made from pineapples grown right across the street and other spirits made from locally grown ingredients. Tours running every hour.

Hali'imaile Distilling Company
Hali’imaile Distilling Company

Hali’imaile General Store

We have had the cookbook for this restaurant sitting on our bookshelf for years. The food is highly regarded here but what is equally impressive is their cocktail menu. Ask for Wendy, who has been bartending there for 17 years. The first bartender I have ever met whose favorite tool behind the bar is the blender. She has constructed an entire menu from it. She uses local spirits (some distilled just across the street), fresh herbs, fruit and a lot of love in every drink she makes. She’ll even make up a new one right there on the spot for you if you’d like. Be on top of your game, she’s got some good zingers you’ll miss if you aren’t paying attention.

The Lemongrass-Ginger Frost at Hali'imaile General Store
The Lemongrass-Ginger Frost at Hali’imaile General Store

Makai Glass

A fine glass art and glassblowing studio that you can take a free tour of. Sculptures are inspired by Hawaii sea life and volcanic formations and they are incredibly beautiful.

Makai Glass
Makai Glass

Maui Pineapple Tour

Learn everything from how pineapples are grown, harvested and processed. There will be pineapple to sample and even bring home. This is a pretty famous attraction on the island so book your tour in advance.

Kula –

Positioned on the slopes of the Haleakala crater, a dormant volcano and the second largest mountain in the world is Kula. Miles of pristine farmland boasting some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the ocean that you will find on the island.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

A wonderland of over 7 varieties of lavender broken up by walking trails, gazebos and zen gardens. Farm tours are available daily.

Maui Wine

Pineapple wine? Yep, and many other interesting varietals as well. Sip on exotic wines as you enjoy the beautiful vineyard and breathtaking views.

Surfing Goat Dairy

I love the story of this place. Thomas and Eva, husband and wife team from Germany, were a couple of surfers who came to Maui to “retire”. Over 9 years later they own the only certified humane farm in Hawaii, one of two goat farms in the entire state and make award winning goats cheeses that have found their way on to menus all over the country including, at the White House (the variety, Utterly Delicious was served at President Obama’s inauguration).

Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy

They raise about 200 goats by hand. They are completely self sufficient in terms of energy (Hawaiia Sea Spirits is the only other farm on Maui that can say that). Their whole farm is decorated with broken surfboards that they rescued from becoming landfill at the dump (they traded the county goat cheese for them).

Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy

Their cheeses are light and mild. Pasteurization done immediately after the milking process removes any gamey flavor the goat’s milk could impart. They offer 30 different variations of goat cheese including a cheve that sits in rennet 24 hours, and aged cheese called ping pong and over the top varieties like “Midas Touch” (dusted with 23k gold flakes) and “Perigord” (covered in black truffles and truffle oil.).

My personal favorites were their feta and the Ole, which is flavored with jalapeños, artichokes, lime and cilantro.

Not to mention the goats are damn cute. I loved that they had a special pen for the female goats that were too old to milk anymore called “The Golden Girls Caralle”.

Cheese tasting at Surfing Goat Dairy
Cheese tasting at Surfing Goat Dairy

Hawaii Sea Spirits 

You gotta love a farm that offers you free food right off the bat as you walk in. Of course I helped myself to some bananas and of course they were delicious.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

This is Earl, an ex-bartender and the distillery’s entertaining (and extremely knowledgable) tour guide. He walks you through the USDA certified organic farm filled with varieties of sugarcane from all over the world, the distillation process and concludes the tour with a tasting. An education in finely crafted booze you will never forget.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Our tour guide, Earl at Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

The distillery is known for two premium spirits. Master distiller, Bill Scott has created  Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum., both crafted in a state of the art and eco-friendly facility using sugarcane grown organically on the property.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

As you tour the grounds you will be invited by lush, colorful landscaping.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

They make a 150 proof white rum that has nuances of banana, coconut, vanilla and marshmallow.

While Rum is defined by its ingredients, vodka is defines by its distillation process.

Earl explains that they first mix the sugarcane with distillers yeast for three days until it ferments. They then take that 10% alcohol “sugarcane beer”, heat it and distill it until it reaches 40% alcohol. This is now called a “sugarcane spirit”. For the vodka, they distill it 40 times until it is super clean. From here they blend the spirit with their very clean and fresh ocean mineral water. This water is part of their claim to fame. It started as a glacier in Greenland.  Over the span of 2000 years the world’s current carried it to Kona, Hawaii where it is than tapped into 3000 feet below sea level and brought to Maui to their farm.

Since the only things that matter for the quality of vodka are water, fermentation and distillation Hawaii Sea Spirits has vowed to nail all three.

Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery
The “bar” at Hawaiian Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery

Back at the bar Earl pours shots for everyone. The vodka is slightly sweet, doesn’t burn going down and actually enhances other ingredients when mixed into a cocktail.

He explains that their rum unlike most other rums is made from fresh sugarcane juice and not molasses. It has not been aged or spiced and because of that is completely clear in color. It smells like coconut and tastes like banana bread.

O’o Farm

Organic farm that produces all of the produce Pacific’o restaurant in Lahaina serves on its menu. Their farm tour includes a gourmet lunch with freshly harvested ingredients while enjoying a cooler climate with breathtaking views.

All foodie obsessions aside no trip to Hawaii is complete without a trip to the beach. So do like the locals do, enjoy some good food, quality time with friends and family and a nice afternoon nap by the ocean…. island style.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

The Big Island of Hawaii

Big island of Hawaii

Big island in Hawaii

Hawaii is the magical place created by volcanic eruptions and shaped by gods and goddesses.

Legend has it that the Polynesian earth goddess Pele is responsible for creating the islands formed by these volcanic eruptions. She is now said to be living in the crater of Kilauea on the Hawaii island after traveling from island to island in the same order as the progression of volcanic eruptions.

Although the youngest, the island of Hawaii is the largest of all the Hawaiian islands giving it the nickname, the big island.

THE LAND

The mana (spiritual essence) is strong here. You can feel and see the island’s aliveness at every turn. The Hawaiians don’t just see land as something that can be bought or sold, they see it as life.

The Big Island of Hawaii
May be one of the many rock formations on the islands representing the ex-lovers of Pele frozen in stone.

Active volcanos, snow capped mountains, crystal clear water, tropical rainforests, sacred historical temples made of lava rock and some of the most epic waterfalls on earth make up the island. Climates range from hot to cool, to snowing in some areas. It is the only island in the world where you can find white, black and green sand beaches.

The Big Island of Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii

When driving across the island on hwy 2000 there are so many changes in landscape that you feel like you are driving cross country.

The Big Island of Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii

One minute you are amongst lush rainforests and the next minute all you see are scattered, tiny, neon green leaves sprouting up through black volcanic lava rock. Amongst the craters and dry desolate empty land you can sometimes feel like you are on another planet. Oh, and there are goats everywhere.

The Big Island of Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii

THE FOOD

The motto – aloha ‘aina, meaning to love and care for the land, is engrained in the culture here. Natural farming, humanly raising animals and sustainable fishing practices are revered and promoted throughout restaurants all over the island.

Hilo –

Hilo, Hawaii
Hilo, Hawaii

The Locavore Store – This store kicks ass. Read my review of it here.

Conscious Café offers fare for both vegans and meat eaters alike. Bowls, tacos, burgers and salads all made of organic produce, grass-fed beef and local line-caught fish. They also have an extensive booch bar offering a wide selection of Big Island Booch kombuchas and a tiny gift shop area.

Conscious Cafe
Conscious Cafe

Hilo Shark’s Coffee is a great place to stop for coffee, an acai bowl or a sandwich. They have a large covered outdoor patio if you are eating “in” and is a good place to grab some souvenirs.

The Moon and the Turtle, although closed during my trip, is said to be one of the best restaurants on the island from locals and visitors alike. An always changing menu of locally sourced food and cocktails with a bumping happy hour and great service. Reservations recommended.

The Hawaiian Style café was also recommended to us. Locals love their enormous portions of classic Hawaiian comfort food. There are locations in Hilo and Waimea.

Waimea –

Village Burger is a quick service restaurant in a strip mall offering parker ranch pasture raised grassfed beef burgers using fresh local goat cheese, fresh baked bread and produce from neighboring vendors.

Big island brewhaus – Besides craft beer you can find a menu loaded full of local fresh line-caught fish, grass-fed beef and organic produce. Their spent grain from brewing beer and food waste is used to feed local cows and pigs. They are a platinum level ocean friendly restaurant and the second restaurant on the big island to be blue zone approved. Simply put, their aloha ‘aina game is on point.

Merriman’s – Farm to table, high end dining in a cozy non-pretentious atmosphere. The Mai Tais are amazing.

Mai Tais at Merriman's Waimea
Mai Tais at Merriman’s Waimea

Waimea Butcher Shop – Mom and pop butcher shop specializing in sustainably raised and locally sourced meat and charcuterie. They are a nose-to-tail operation that cuts meat to order and has an extremely high standard in quality.

Waikoloa –

Daylight Mind Coffee – Na’auao is the Hawaiian word for enlightenment and literally translates to Daylight mind. This company chose their name because they say it “weaves together a love of scientific exploration with a deep respect for the wisdom and strength of its Hawaiian roots”. Although they use western techniques they draw from their culture to keep themselves grounded and stay true to the land. They pour local Kona coffee sourced from several different farms and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus with a farm to table sensibility.

Breakfast at Daylight Mind Coffee
Breakfast at Daylight Mind Coffee

Farmers markets line the perimeter of the island on a daily basis. They are a great way to learn about Hawaiian culture and sample foods grown locally. Click here to find one near where you are staying. I visited the Hilo farmers and although it runs daily the Saturday market is the largest all week.

White Pineapple
White Pineapple. So far I’ve only seen this on the big island.

SNORKELING

 The Kona side of the island is known for snorkeling. Crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches make access easy and inviting.

Beach 69, named after the mile marker it is located at is a local favorite for snorkeling in the Waialea Bay. The white sandy beach is covered with large shady trees and the reefs are full of beautiful fish.

Beach 69
Beach 69, called 69’s by locals
Beach 69
Beach 69

If you are looking for a snorkeling excursion by boat I recommend Hilo Ocean Adventures. You can arrange a private tour where you will have your own captain and snorkel guide to take you to all the best spots, prepare you snacks and take a video of your entire experience. You may even swim with sea turtles and have a school of dolphins riding along side the boat with you on your way out.

VOLCANOS

For a boat tour to see the lava flowing into the ocean go to seelava.com

Otherwise do what we did and take a self-guided tour by car through the Hawaii Volcano’s National Park.

The Big Island of Hawaii
Hawaii Volcano’s National Park

Here you will see Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano and mountain on earth accounting for more that half of the island’s land mass (most lying underneath the ocean). The mountain is constantly growing with its continuous stream of lava flow adding to its mass.

Mana Loa
Mana Loa

You will also see the shield volcano, Kilauea. Remember Pele? This is the volcano which has lava streaming steadily into the ocean. It is one of the most active volcanos in the world.

Driving around this park you will see volcanic craters, rainforests and hike over miles and miles of lava rock.

WATERFALLS

If you are in Hilo here are some falls you won’t want to miss…

The Wailuku river spanning 18 miles long is the second longest river in Hawaii and is so powerful can at times create flash flooding. It is also home to beautiful waterfalls.

Rainbow falls is an 80 foot waterfall that creates a rainbow on sunny days and a constant mist on rainy days. It is over 100 years old and pours from the Wailuku river in front of natural lava caves.

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

Boiling pots is 1.5 miles above rainbow falls. They are pot shaped holes made of lava rock that fill the Wailuku river. During storms the river rises and water appears to be “boiling” in these lava pots.

Pe’epe’e falls is to the left and upstream boiling pots.

The Kolekole stream produces some very impressive waterfalls as well. The most impressive is Akaka falls. At 442 feet tall it is twice as high as Niagra Falls. Kahuna and Uluhi falls are just downstream of Akaka.

Trail to Akaka Falls
Trail to Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls

ACOMMODATIONS

Since I have only been to this island once so far I only have one place to recommend. It is a wonderful VRBO in Hilo called The Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat with an east meets west sensibility.

Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
One of the many temples at Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat

The property is full of meticulously manicured zen gardens, orchards and lily ponds.

Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat

It also has a sweet little outdoor kitchen perfect for cooking all meals on site.

Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat

The money shot however is the infinity pool and hot tub which overlooks the ocean lined with lava rock walls.

Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat

Inside you will find local art, wood furniture and high end fixtures. The owner of the property Dan, has not forgotten any details large or small. He made my day when he brought me over a coconut and a drill one afternoon. Although far from town this is a wonderful place to stay. If you are looking for a little seclusion this is the spot.

Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat
Coconut palms at Hawaiian Paradise Ocean Retreat

If you are looking for a baller vacation rental check out the properties managed by Elite Pacific Properties

Like this one called Fairway #1 North located on the north of Kona.

Elite Pacific Vacation Rental
Elite Pacific Vacation Rental
Elite Pacific Vacation Rental
Elite Pacific Vacation Rental
Elite Pacific Vacation Rental
Elite Pacific Vacation Rental

I look forward to heading back to the big island of Hawaii sooner rather than later. More recommendations to come.

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

The Locavore Store

The Locavore Store

The Locavore Store

Have you ever walked into a store and thought, why didn’t I open this first? I am both super excited to have found The Locavore Store and kicking myself at the same time.

At the edge of downtown in the charming (and very health conscious) waterfront town of Hilo you will find a tiny market full of local treasures.

Husband and wife team Catarina and Arthur have expertly curated a selection of produce, pastured meats, eggs, grocery and skincare items all grown or made in Hawaii. Their mission is to “connect local people with locally-grown food”. Their website advertises that they carry products from over 100 local farms and artisans. Simply put, they know what it truly means to eat local and support their community.

Lilikoi, a.k.a. passionfruit
Lilikoi, a.k.a. passionfruit

What started out originally as selling neighbors’ excess crops at the local farmers market grew to eventually opening a brick and mortar location in the tiny town of Pahoa on Hawai’i Island, a.ka. The Big Island. In 2014 lava flowing from the Kilauea Crater chased Catarina and Arthur out of town to Hilo where you will now find their beautiful little boutique shop.

On my recent visit I discovered fruits I had never tried before like the lemondrop mangosteen, which can be eaten in a similar way to a lychee. I bought some blood red, Big Island rack of lamb and a turmeric spice blend made from Orchid Isle Herbs to take home and grill. It was heavenly by the way. I also scored some fresh pastured eggs, mango and apple bananas for breakfast the next day.

Lemondrop mangosteens
Lemondrop mangosteens

I found the store perfect for picking up odds and ends I needed for my trip. I could imagine myself stopping by regularly if I lived nearby to shop for meat and eggs, discover new produce or to buy a local gift to ship to the mainland.

Alaea-turmeric spice blend
Orchid Isle Herbs Alaea-turmeric spice blend

The cashiers were lovely on both occasions I visited the store and the customers all seemed to be regular shoppers, who like me, care deeply about which foods they put in their body.

Supporting farmers markets and shops like The Locavore Store are so important. They help change the political climate of the food industry and little by little make buying local more mainstream.

Buying your food from small local farmers as opposed to large factory farms not only supports your local economy but is far superior for your health. In a time were diseases like diabetes, cancer and obesity are so prevalent it is always a mystery to me why there are still people who find buying local a novelty fad or irrelevant.

Local chai spice
Local chai spice

The Locavore Store’s beef, chicken and lamb (as well as a variety of other meats) all come from family-owned farms and ranches on the Big Island. They are pasture raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones making them lower in fat, higher in Omega-3s and much healthier for you than factory farmed commodity meat you will find in an average supermarket. The produce selection consists of organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables (the way nature intended) all grown on the Big Island.

f you are curious about what they carry or want to support small farmers and artisans on the Big Island The Locavore Store is launching their online store soon. Other than that make sure to stop by next time you are in Hilo so you too can support the local food movement.

Way to go Catarina and Arthur. You are truly local heroes.

The Locavore Store

60 Kamehameha Ave.

Hilo, HI 96720

(808) 965-2372

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Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

How Eating Local Food Supports Your Health And Community

support local

support local

Eating local food is very important to me. When it comes to what I eat I try my best to select foods that are whole or minimally processed, organic and local. This practice results in eating seasonally as well.

Sometimes finding foods like these can be a challenge depending on where you live. Not everyone places this much importance on the foods they eat. If there isn’t a demand in a particular area there is often low availability. Cost and climate can also be factors. This is why if you have a farmers market pop up in your area or see local food in your neighborhood grocery store it is important to support it.

I believe eating local food is important for two reasons. It promotes good health and it strengthens your community. These are both very strong values of mine and something I encourage everyone to at least consider when buying food.

Eating local food for your health

This idea does not involve micro and macronutrients. However, food grown near to you, eaten soon after it has been harvested is more nutritious than commercially grown foods shipped from long distances. So, even though organic apples grown in California are just as nutritious as ones grown in New York, if you live in California and eat the locally grown apples they will be more nutritious because of the length of time between harvest and consumption.

Aligning yourself with nature

As I mentioned above, this idea is more than just getting the most nutrients out of your food. It is also a matter of aligning yourself with your environment or, living in harmony with nature. Eating local food ties you to the land you live on.

When I decided to leave San Francisco to move to Hawaii I had to prepare myself for the fact that my diet was going to change. Sure, I would no longer get to enjoy the bay area stone fruit season and Hass avocados but instead I would get to taste fresh lychees strait from the tree and make interesting dishes with breadfruit. I didn’t see it as a challenge or something I would miss but rather an exciting opportunity.

Eating for your climate

San Francisco in general has a very cool, dry climate. I would start every morning with warm lemon water, drink hot tea everyday and eat hot cereal, soups and stews to keep me warm.

 

One of the things that drew me to Hawaii was the climate. As a person who tends to run cold and dry, San Francisco’s climate was not a good balance for me. The warm humid climate in Hawaii already has my skin looking healthier and my immune system feeling stronger.

My diet has shifted here. I am constantly mindful of staying hydrated and regulating my body temperature using water and food. I now drink room temperature water in the morning instead of warming it first. I crave iced teas instead of hot teas. I eat more salads, fish and rice. I eat completely different types of fruit. I seek cold or room temperature foods as opposed to hot foods. I crave ice-cream way more.

Even though the weather doesn’t change as dramatically throughout the year, like the Midwest or east coast, San Francisco still has seasons that determine which fruits and vegetables are available. Hearty squashes and Brussels sprouts in the winter, asparagus and artichokes in the spring, heirloom tomatoes and melon in the summer are all examples.

Seasonality is significant because nature produces what will make your body thrive during that time of the year. Heartier vegetables keep you warm in the winter and lighter produce like lettuces, cucumber and stone fruit cool you down in the summer.

Giving your body what it needs in order to thrive in the environment you live in is very important for your health.

Balancing our bodies with food

Our bodies are constantly looking for balance. It is one of the reasons why we have cravings. All of the foods we eat have the potential to create warming, cooling, drying or moisturizing effects in the body. It is up to you to understand what you need in any given moment in order to thrive. This is the principal of yin and yang, opposite energies that compliment each other and create balance.

By being in tune with your body and environment you can choose foods that bring you back into balance. Alternatively, ignoring those two things can bring you out of balance with nature and have the potential to make you sick.

Eat with the seasons and let your climate determine diet. If you live in a warm climate and continue to eat foods grown in cold climates it could cause an imbalance. For example, a diet rich in red meat, high in fat and alcohol could overheat someone living in warm climate. However, if you live in a cold climate you need foods that pack more eat. Living off fish and raw vegetables may not keep you warm enough.

Here are some examples of foods that are cooling (ideal for warm climate) and foods that are warming (ideal for cold climate).

Cooling foods –

– Sweet spices (chai, fennel, elderflower)

– Mint

– Cucumber

– Lime

– Light proteins like chicken and fish

– Dark leafy greens

– Raw fruits and vegetables

– Chocolate

– Cabbage

– Watercress

Warming foods –

– Red meat, pork, duck

– Hot soups and stews

– Ginger

– Garlic

– Onions

– Oatmeal

– Winter squashes

– Peppers

Eating local food for the health of your community

Buying food from the local farmers market brings us closer to our community and environment, which results in a deeper connection to our food.

By buying your food from local farms and artisans you are supporting your neighbors and strengthening your local economy. This act unifies people, it keeps people employed and it allows you to really know where your food comes from.

Eating foods that are shipped in from somewhere else (at least on a regular basis) alienates us from our environment. You may not be physically equipped to consistently eat these foods and over time doing this may confuse your body and weaken your immune system. By doing this you are also supporting the excessive use of fossil fuels which is unfriendly to the environment.

Support local. Support community. Support your own health. It just makes sense.

For more information on how to eat local food in Hawaii check out my Hawaii Local Food Guide.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.

Exploring Provo In The Turks And Caicos

Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay, Providenciales

Provo is what the locals have endearingly nicknamed Providenciales, their beloved island in the Turks and Caicos and home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Provo is what dreams are made of. White, soft sand, turquoise water, vibrant reefs full of colorful coral, fish and sea turtles and “feet-in-the-sand” dining. Everything you’ve read is true and yes, the water does really looks like that, no photoshop required.

Beaches

There really isn’t a bad beach on the island but two in particular stuck out for me.

Grace Bay is the most famous and offers many exciting ocean excursions and water sports. A great spot to watch kite-boarders, play volleyball or just relax with a rum punch. Check out the fish fry every Thursday night at Bight (Children’s) Park. Tourists and locals come from all over the island to eat food prepared by local restaurants, listen to live music and shop. Grab an icy cold mojito from Travis at Mr. Mojitos and a curry goat taco from Kalooki’s before hitting the dance floor.

Grace Bay
Grace Bay

Sapodilla bay offers all the beach rentals you will need including beach chairs and umbrellas. Snorkeling, jet skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking are among the most popular water activities there. Ask for Jamesly, owner of Tropical Waves, he’ll get you what you need in order to have a perfect day at the beach.

Eat & Drink

There is a ton of great spots to eat and drink here. Many of which you never have to leave the beach to go to. Fresh local snapper, grouper, octopus and of course conch are the main attractions and peas and rice are almost always served along side. When it’s lobster season you can expect to see it on every menu you come across. Jerk chicken, curries and tacos are also common dishes here.

Fresh coconuts at Bugaloos
Fresh coconuts at Bugaloos

Da Conch Shack“Feet-in-the-sand” dining, delicious jerk chicken and conch are what you can find here. When you aren’t gazing out at the crystal clear waters you’ll be watching as people go up to the bar to play the ring game – literally a ring that hangs from the roof on a string that you have to try to make on to a hook fixed to the wall across from you. Surprisingly entertaining for hours. This is also were the infamous (to the island at least) Peppa Joy hot sauce is made. Peppa Joy is all-natural, made with locally grown Delano’s peppers and is good on just about everything.

Da Conch Shack
Da Conch Shack
Jerk Chicken with slaw, peas and rice at Da Conch Shack
Jerk Chicken with slaw, peas and rice at Da Conch Shack

Bugaloo’s – “Feet-in-the-sand” dining with live music. Have them crack you a fresh coconut while you snack on local conch fritters and grilled snapper. Chances are you will be serenaded by a local with a mic and guitar while you watch children play in the ocean in front of you. Great little lunch spot.

Conch fritters at Bugaloos
Conch fritters at Bugaloos
Conch salad at Bugaloos
Conch salad at Bugaloos
Lunch at Bugaloos
Lunch at Bugaloos

The Shore Club – Just one of the many luxury resort options in Provo. Have cocktails at the sleek and sexy Rope Bar, overlooking their world class pool and cabanas. The restaurants at The Shore Club offer some of the best fine dining options the island and the property sits right on Grace Bay.

The pool at The Shore Club
The pool at The Shore Club

Stix Beach BarThis “Feet-in-the-sand” bar at The West Bay Club is a lively spot to hang out at for afternoon cocktails. The bartenders are fun and the customers usually get pretty smashed making it an entertaining spot for people watching.

Turks Kebab – Cool little casual lunch or dinner spot serving lamb gyros, kofte, hummus and other Turkish and Greek delights. Lamb is carved fresh off the spit to order.

Turks Kebaba
Turks Kebaba
Kofte and lamb gyro at Turks Kebab
Kofte and lamb gyro at Turks Kebab

Coco Bistro – Fine dining set inside a coconut palm grove on Grace Bay. Service was exceptional and the lamb chops were cooked perfectly. I recommend making a reservation well in advance so you don’t miss out on this one.

Somewhere CafeThis open air restaurant is the perfect place to dine before or after an ocean excursion leaving from Grace Bay. Live music daily. Huge menu with something for everyone.

Las Brisas – Sip on cocktails poolside while you look out on to beautiful Chalk Sound.

Melt – I don’t want to stereo type but this one is for the ladies. This “dessert bar” offers cocktails, a stellar wine selection, house-made ice-cream sundae’s and shopping all under one roof. The mojito here will blow your mind and the sundae’s are big enough for four.

The Banana-Caramel Sundae at Melt
The Banana-Caramel Sundae at Melt
Mojito at Melt
Mojito at Melt

Kalookis – Open air restaurant on the beach. The DJ will dance with your kids while the bartender pours you shots. A fun, party atmosphere with a killer oxtail stew.

Where to stay

From what I saw when I was there you have two options for accommodations on this island – stay at a resort or rent a vacation home. I stayed in a killer vacation rental on our trip called Villa Capri.

Villa Capri

If you are looking for the ultimate high-end vacation experience in the Turks and Caicos I highly recommend Villa Capri, a vacation beach house rental on Chalk Sound.

Villa Capri
Villa Capri

Staying at Villa Capri is pure luxury. The house and view look like an advertisement for the Turks and Caicos, like you would find in a fancy travel magazine. It’s modern and sleek but comfortable at the same time. Inside you will find beautiful white tile floors and countertops, a massive fully stocked kitchen with Wolf stove, modern furniture and Samsung Sound audio equipment for blasting your favorite jams throughout the house.

Villa Capri
Villa Capri

The selling point on this house however, is the expansive back deck overlooking Chalk Sound. Out here you will find towering palm trees, a state of the art outdoor kitchen with grill and flat screen TV and a swank infinity pool. Walk down the back steps to a sweet little dock where you will find a kayak and paddleboards waiting for you to explore the sound with.

Villa Capri
Villa Capri

John and Janine go out of their way to make your stay special. Their attention to detail and hospitality goes way beyond most other vacation rental home experiences. Special touches like stocking the kitchen with fresh fruit, local beer and cold bottled water make it feel like they really care. The complimentary soaps and lotions that are provided in the bathrooms show their sophisticated taste. They spare no expense when it comes to your comfort. My favorite amenity is a book they have put together for you that lists all of their favorite bars, restaurants and excursions on the islands, all with their personal review of each one attached. They even give you the names of the bartenders so you can roll in like a boss and fit right in with the locals.

Local lager by Turks Head Brewery compliments of John and Janine
Local lager by Turks Head Brewery compliments of John and Janine

Resorts

Here are some resorts I recommend if you go that route….

The Shore Club

Seven Stars

The West Bay Club

Come for the beaches, remember the locals

All epic beach experiences aside what I will always remember about this island is the warm hospitality I received from every local I met. Their always positive outlook, sense of humor and zest for life are something most people can only strive for. They are amazingly generous, thoughtful and delightful to be around. They truly made my trip. If you are thinking about a trip to the caribbean, Provo in the Turks and Caicos is the place to be.

provo

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.