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 certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

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 certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

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 certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Local Spotlight – Dave the Butcher

Dave the Butcher
Dave the Butcher
Dave the Butcher at Soul Food Farm

I am hoping that after reading this article everyone starts googling the phrase “butcher near me”.

David Budworth, also known as “Dave the Butcher”, is one of those butchers who has changed the way people have looked at buying meat over the last several years.

He runs a modest shop in San Francisco called Marina Meats, where he embraces the farm to table movement and relationships with his customers.

His colorful past and liberal opinions are both hilarious and inspiring.

Here is his story

Dave started his butchering journey in 1989 working at Ashbury Market in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Seeing the older butchers break down whole animals intrigued and inspired him. But as a self-proclaimed “fuck up” he was not yet ready to settle down in a career.

So, off to Australia to live and work in the jungle he went. This is where Dave worked on a farm for tattooed, bearded bikers picking fruit. He said, “I lived in a tent for 6 months and half the time thought these guys were going to kill me”.

But they didn’t. And instead they inspired Dave even more to become a butcher and more knowledgeable about where his food came from.

The bikers raised wild pigs on their property. Dave would help slaughter them with his boss, Weed, to sell the meat off to nearby neighbors. The first time Weed strapped on his belt of knives Dave’s eyes lit up. He thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen.

In the evenings Dave and the bikers would head out (highly intoxicated) in a pick up truck to hunt crocodile. He learned that in Australia there are wet and dry seasons. In the wet season it floods and in the dry season when things dry up tiny ponds form where crocodiles get trapped and have to live in until the wet season returns. They would find the crocs in these ponds in the middle of the night, shine a light on them and shoot them, bringing them back to the farm to slaughter.

When Dave’s outback adventure came to an end he moved back to San Francisco and landed a job at The Real Food Company on Sutter street (which is now closed) working the meat counter. By a stroke of good luck the manager was getting ready to quit and in a bind offered his position to Dave. Dave, still not really knowing the art of butchery, saw an opportunity and accepted the position.

In the following months he became Bill Niman’s (formerly of Niman ranch) first butcher shop wholesale customer. Up until then Bill had only sold his grass-fed beef to Chefs at high end restaurants. He also brought on farms like Atkin’s Ranch for lamb. He said that he would order meat from Bill Niman and Atkins Ranch and then ask them how to cut it. The farmers trained Dave on how to cut their own product. And little did Dave know, that at the time, he was at the forefront of a food revolution that would surge several years later.

But in pure Dave fashion he grew antsy. With a pocket full of cash from his manager’s job he took 6 months off and moved to Amsterdam to grow pot.

Upon returning from his sabbatical he found himself living in the east bay where he stumbled into what would eventually become his true butchery training ground, Ver Brugges.

It was at Ver Brugge Foods where Dave learned the true meaning of hard work and what it took to be a real butcher. He worked long hours, never got weekends off, would get constant shit from the older butchers and cut his fingers daily. During the holiday season he remembers cracking crabs until three in the morning only to come home, drink a couple beers and go back to work a couple hours later at 6am.

He was the youngest butcher at the shop by 30 years. He had to fight to get taught what they knew and would often get pushed off on to the customers while the older butchers did the actual butchering in the back.

He would ask the customers if they wanted anything special done to the cuts of meat they were ordering from the case, such as boning out legs of lamb or trussing chickens. As with most of his butchering career Dave’s skills were self taught.

But, what he did learn from the owner of Ver Brugges was how to run a profitable butcher shop. Which became immeasurable later in his career.

A big reason why the owner preferred the more seasoned butchers to break down meat was that he had zero tolerance for waste. He had to. It was all about his bottom line and if Dave cut steaks while still learning and produced a lot of waste it was money taken out of his pocket. It was there that the idea of “clean bones” was instilled in Dave who went on to take pride in butchering meat leaving no waste behind.

Although Ver Brugge was a great shop Dave longed for the days when he got to watch guys break down whole animals which was something that they did not do there.

Dave found a shop in Santa Cruz that was doing just that. He called them every week for months until Shopper’s Corner finally gave in and offered him a job. Dave came in on fire getting quickly promoted to assisting the assistant manager on what he calls the “main block”. The manager would cut meat and Dave would clean up his “trim”. All. Day. Long.

Dave kept up his relentless butcher’s schedule until finally burning out. Making a significant change in lifestyle he moved to Berlin, opened a yoga studio and became a certified coffee roaster.

Although he loved his new life and Berlin Dave had this constant nagging feeling of wanting to be behind a butchers counter. Alas, he found himself back working at Ver Brugges only three years later.

During his second stint working at Ver Brugges he got divorced from his wife, his dog died and his car got broken into and stolen twice. Feeling depressed and defeated he returned to Berlin with his “tail between his legs” to his old barista job.

He was there for 6 months. Life was easy. Too easy he thought.

Dave traveled to Spain where he says he “scared himself” to the point of returning yet again to the bay area.

He ran a shop called The Fish Lady in Santa Cruz where he re-did their meat, cheese and beer programs. He couch surfed and eventually landed back in San Francisco where his career had started.

By this point Chefs had made butchering whole animals trendy and accessible to everyday people. All of the sudden being a butcher was “cool” and farm to table was all the rage. What Dave had been doing for over twenty years and not getting any recognition for was now big business.

After a long awaited and much deserved recommendation from Ver Brugge, Dave settled in at a new butcher shop that had just opened in the Marina called Marina Meats, which he still calls home today.

Dave the Butcher
Dave the Butcher at Soul Food Farm

Dave the Butcher is born

2009 was an exciting time to be a butcher. The NY Times had just put out an article titled, Young Idols With Cleavers Rule the Stage and butchers now had rockstar status.

Chefs like Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats where becoming known for whole animal butchery and the farm to table movement was in full swing.

Having already had 20 years experience as a butcher, Dave was in a prime position by the time he entered back into the San Francisco scene.

Dave started getting approached left and right to do demos at festivals, “meet your butcher” dinners and butchery competitions. He was getting up to speak at large events about factory farming and supporting small farms. He joined forces with other local butchers to support them and build his brand as, Dave the Butcher.

Dave on labeling

Now that people were taking notice of butchers again and having a desire to know where their meat was coming from  more and more meat starting popping up in grocery stores labeled as “organic”, “free-range” and natural. The demand was now there.

So, what is the difference between, what butchers like Dave, are offering and the organic meat you find in a supermarket? Luckily for us one of Dave’s best virtues is that he does not hide his opinions or sugarcoat them.

I asked Dave how he felt about companies who label their meats as “all natural” and this is what he had to say…

“It’s a crock of shit. I think the organic, all-natural, free-range labeling is fucking bullshit. It’s a scam in a sense. They are all buzzwords.

I know farmers who go beyond organic, like Alexis at Soul Food Farm, but can’t afford to label themselves as such because of the cost of licensing. When Alexis was certified organic she had to source feed from Japan. The costs were threatening to put her out of business. Corporate factory farms have the money to pay the organic fees. For them it’s just marketing.

I look for animal welfare certification when I purchase meat because a company can say they have organic chickens but then go out and beat the crap out of them everyday. As long as they feed them organic food they can call them organic. “Free-Range” chickens? They leave the door to the coup open. Most of the chickens don’t walk outside and if they do its on to a four by four fenced in area. The pastured birds that I get for Marina Meats are certified heritage and pastured for 140 days and are what chickens should taste like.”

Dave on grass-fed vs. grain fed beef

I asked Dave if he has seen a shift in what customers are looking for as far as beef goes these days. For many years marbled, grain-fed beef was revered by chefs and consumers for providing  juicer and more delicious steaks. These days the promise of a healthier meat option is delivered with grass-fed beef.

Dave said, “There were no grain-fed marbled steaks before WW2. That all started with the industrial corn revolution. It’s what we were all raised on. That too was a marketing ploy.

All cows start out for their first year on grass so you can technically call a factory farmed product grass-fed. After a year it gets auctioned off and goes to a factory to live the rest of its life on cement. It was the industry standard. That was back when everyone trusted the government and the food industry not to poison us.

Five years ago people in their seventies would come in and scoff at the price of grass-fed beef. Now those same people are asking for it. It’s one of those things where if people vote with their dollars shit will change. That’s what is starting to happen now. Grass-fed is the new healthy trendy thing and people want to be told what is healthy for them.

Back in the 70’s we were told fat was evil and  everyone started buying diet this and diet that. Now it comes out that all that shit was a big scam, just marketing. With those ideas still engrained in customers brains they ask me for steaks with less fat on them. I tell them the fat is not the problem. In the beef I sell the fat contains a lot of nutrients. It’s the fat from factory farmed meat that you want to stay away from. It is there where all of the chemicals and antibiotics that were given to the cows are stored.  

There only used to be choice and prime labels for beef. When a carcass was run through the slaughterhouse the USDA guy looked at one spot on the carcass and if it was marbled he would label it prime. These meats were more rare so they were sold at a more expensive price. 

Now there are three choices of beef – select, choice and prime. Select used to be called “no roll” because it meant that it didn’t get rolled with the USDA stamp. It was non-graded meat, below human consumption level, but fine for dogs to eat. Safeway lobbied to have select become a grade. They re-labeled everything in their store as “Safeway Select” and turned it into a brand name that people now trust.”

The Philosophy at Marina Meats

The demographic at Marina Meats can change with the time of the day or day of the week.

Dave gets everyone from Italian grandmothers cooking old school classics like petrale sole and meatballs to busy parents looking for convenient pre-made products like crabs cakes and marinated chicken breast to the guy walking in on the weekend who just bought a green egg and wants to smoke a whole brisket.

Dave’s favorite time to work is the weekend. He cranks up fun music like disco or reggae and shoots the shit with the customers who are more relaxed and in a friendly weekend mood.

He says his philosophy and the philosophy of the shop are one in the same. To source humanely raised, non-factory farmed meat and support small farms.

He buys whole animals from several small farms spreading the love around.

But coming from a background such as working at Ver Brugge he has also learned the importance of making a profit. So because of that he tries to blend what he calls the “old world” with the “new world” butcher shop ideas.

He says, “the new world idea of only buying whole carcasses, supporting only small farms and doing everything in house isn’t completely sustainable from a financial stand point. You have to charge a lot and there isn’t much profit to be made.

So to get around that I combine that model with the “old world” approach which is to still offer cool stuff but to also bring in some pre-cut product at a lower cost.

Many “craft” butcher shops won’t sell things like boneless, skinless chicken breast. I’ll bitch and moan all day about selling it but at the end of the day it’s what many customers want and it makes us money.

Offering that boneless, skinless chicken breast gets people into the shop on a daily basis and allows me to build a relationship with them. I am then able to guide them towards purchasing other off cuts that they might not of ever tried before.

Instead of alienating those people I engage them. I figure if one in every ten people buys a pork belly or a beef shank or some off cut that nobody used to ever buy, sweet!

I may go through a ton of boneless, skinless chicken breast but I’ve also converted many people in the process. And that’s why I am able to afford to buy and butcher whole carcasses. It supports my business.

Instead of being snooty and telling people that they should just get on the “craft butchery” train right now, when they clearly aren’t ready, I just try to make the train more enticing. That’s my theory.”

The choice is yours. 

Living in the bay area I have to remind myself all the time that we live in a bubble. Not everyone across America has access to pastured meat or are near a small local farm.

But I know in my heart that if we stop filling the pockets of factory farm corporations it will make an impact on the kinds of foods that grocery stores everywhere sell. Like Dave said, when people “vote with their dollars shit will change”.

So go ahead, close out this blog and google “butcher near me”. You never know, there could be a Dave the Butcher of your very own working right around the corner.

What kind of meat do you want to eat and feed to your family?

Dave the Butcher
Dave the Butcher at The Eat Real Festival

Dave the Butcher

David Budworth AKA “Dave the Butcher” started his career in 1989 at the Ashbury Market in San Francisco. With the 2 words on a poultry box “Edible Feet”, he was hooked. He landed in the jungle outback of northern Australia where he worked on a farm for some bikers learning to slaughter and process wild pigs. He has since worked under many local butcher masters, cut meat at Avedano’s Holly Park Market and was the butcher for Fatted Calf’s weekly Pork Happy Hour. Dave is now the manager and head butcher at Marina Meats in San Francisco. You can also catch him teaching lamb butchery classes at the San Francisco Cooking School. Dave is a bartender of a butcher- full of facts, recipes and butcher lore. 

Learn more about David Budworth on his websiteAsk Your Butcher

Or visit him at –

 Marina Meats 

2395 Chestnut ave. SF

(415) 673-6700

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Clean, Natural and Healthy Meals From Your Kitchen

Notice in the title of this article I said your kitchen. Eating clean and healthy is not hard to do but you have to know what is in your food in order to do so. Even the seemingly healthy restaurants may sneak something in on you that you wouldn’t normally eat. The only way to really know what you are eating is to prepare it yourself.

The first step you should take toward better health is to eliminate the processed, pre-packaged and fast foods from your diet. The second step should be to learn to recognize and prepare clean, natural and healthy foods for yourself and your family.

Choosing to eat “clean” and healthy meals is not so much about restricting what you eat, but rather about making better choices and eating better quality foods. Starting with more natural foods containing natural ingredients and eliminating chemicals and additives. The fresher the foods, the better.

Simplify your foods and meals. Choose almost any package in the grocery store and take a look at the long list of ingredients, most are unrecognizable, and many are made in a laboratory. Clean foods have very few ingredients with familiar names. If you can’t pronounce it or have know idea what the ingredient is you probably don’t want to eat it. The simplest clean foods are in fact known as “single ingredient” foods like a banana, a carrot, quinoa or a chicken breast. These are the types of foods to incorporate into your clean eating recipes.

Eliminate refined sugar. Adding refined sugar to your food means consuming empty calories. Alternative sweeteners like stevia, honey and maple syrup are more natural, but use them sparingly as they too will feed your sugar addiction. In the end, sugar is sugar not matter if it has health benefits, like in the case of honey, or not.

Choose local and organic foods. When choosing ingredients for your healthy home cooked meals, shop your local Farmer’s Market and choose organic products when possible. These foods are more nutritious and don’t contain any pesticides, hormones and chemicals.

Cooking your own meals. Stop buying meals or entrees in a box, learn to cook meals from scratch. It is not no as hard as it sounds. Whole foods need little preparation other than chopping and sautéing to make simple yet satisfying, delicious meals you and your family will love.

Planning and preparing clean meals in the kitchen. Start with combining simple and delicious single ingredient foods as meals.

For breakfast try two eggs with onions and peppers served with sliced avocado and tomato. Or, plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup of home-made granola and fresh berries.

Lunch could include a spinach salad with apple cider vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil dressing, walnuts, goat cheese and any vegetables you prefer.

A sample dinner might be a brown rice bowl with roasted chicken breast and vegetables with a squeeze of lime and some sesame seeds.

Notice in these examples, the list of foods is also the list of ingredients.

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be the room of the house you dread being in. Keeping things simple and enjoyable will make cooking seem less like a chore and more like a routine that makes you feel and look great.

What are your easy go-to recipes for a healthy meal?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Everything You Need To Know About GMOs

gmo awareness

gmo awareness

There are two sides to every story. Nothing could be more true than in the case of the people vs. Big Food on the topic of GMOs. Its a story of scientific experimentation, greed, innovation and public safety.

But what exactly is a GMO? And why is everyone afraid of them? Here is a break down on what they are and what each opposing side is saying about them. From there you can make your own decision of what side of the fence you stand on and what you feel comfortable putting into your body.

The Facts:

  • “Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism”. – world health organization (WHO)
  • 88-95% of our corn, canola, soy and sugar is Genetically modified. – GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
  • Monsanto, Du Pont & Syngenta are the 3 patent holders of GMO products. – GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
  • The 9 main GMO crops in US are soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini & alfalfa.
  • There are 2 types of GMOs:
    • Herbicide resistant crops: Crops that are bred to be able to outlive being sprayed with  a toxic amount of herbicide. An example is Round Up ready soybeans.  GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
    • Pesticide producing crops: Crops that have BT – bacillus thuringiensis toxin inserted into their DNA so that when a pest eats them they die. Examples of this are BT corn & cotton. The Future of Food
  • 75% of all processed foods contain GMOs. – Center for food safety
  • 70-90% of all food producing Animals are fed GMO crops. – Forbes
  • Common ingredients that contain GMOs are: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, vitamin C, soy lecithin (used in chocolate), xanthum gum, molasses, some vitamins & supplements, baking powder, corn syrup and tempeh.- Non GMO Project
  • Europe bans all GMOs. – gmo-free-regions.org
  • Monsanto owns thousands of seed patents. If a farm is illegally using their seeds without a license they can sue them for patent infringement. – RT.com
  • Large food corporations raised over $45 mil to fight prop 37 in CA against GMO food labeling. They scared the public by telling everyone their food prices would increase dramatically.. – SFGate
  • The non-gmo project is a non profit 3rd party verification program that is commited to building sources of non GMO products and providing the public with GMO information. – nongmoproject.org
  • The Non-GMO label on foods is the fastest growing label and boosts sales of its products dramatically – Institute for responsible technology
  • Whole Foods will require that everyone label their foods with GMO ingredients by 2018 – macleans.ca.com

As most of you probably know activists have been fighting tirelessly for GMO labeling so that we can find out if there are GMO ingredients in the food we are eating. It has been an uphill battle to not only demand transparent food labels but also to even just conduct solid scientific research on the possible effects of eating GMO crops.

Here is what the opposing side is saying:

  • GMO corn was linked to tumors, liver & kidney damage in rats. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Monsanto argues there is no difference in nutrients between a GMO crop and a non GMO crop. – Monsanto.com
  • “GM foods are not properly tested for human safety”- Institute for responsible technology
  • GMOs are not labeled because they are considered “substantially equivalent” to other foods and are categorized as “generally recognized as safe” with no scientific evidence by the FDA – The Future of Food
  • Our immune system could get confused at telling apart genetically engineered protein and regular protein, which can lead to chronic inflammation. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Overuse of GE crops and herbicides that are used with those crops have led to weeds that are resistant to the herbicide so you have to spray more. – The Future of Food
  • Companies like Monsanto prevent researchers from using their seeds to conduct scientific studies. – The New York Times
  • Almost always when people switch to a non GMO diet their gastrointestinal problems, allergies, asthma, skin diseases go away – Institute for responsible technology
  • Soybeans when modified trips the typsin inhibitor which then blocks the action of trypsin, an important protein digester – Institute for responsible technology
  • Studies in Scotland showed the process of genetically engineering something is responsible for pre-cancerous cell growth in digestive tract and damaged immune system in rats. The scientist that conducted this study was fired and gagged for speaking of the dangers of GMOs. He was later allowed to talk. – Institute for responsible technology
  • BT toxin is used in organic farming as a natural pesticide. The GMO crop that produces BT toxin is 3-5 times more toxic than the natural spray. It contains properties of known allergins which provoke the immune system. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (round up ready’s main ingredient) deprives plants of nutrients which makes the crops nutrient deficient –Institute for responsible technology
  • When we eat GMO ingredients the glyphosate binds with gluten and nutrients and makes us nutrient deficient, which makes us sick –Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (Round-up) is a powerful antibiotic which kills good gut bacteria. Bad bacteria like e.coli, salmonella and botulism is resistant to round up. This creates dysbiosis (leaky gut syndrome), acid reflux, digestive issues and immune issues. –Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (Round up) is an endocrine disrupter in human cells – Pub Med
  • Glyphosate (Round up)  inhibits cytochrome enzymes from filtering toxins out of our bodies and reaks havoc on our gut microbiome which can lead to a variety of diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease and alzheimers. . – MDPI
  • The person in charge of GMO policy at the FDA is Monsanto’s former attorney. His policy claims that GMOs are safe. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Scientists working at FDA found that GMOs were in fact different and dangerous and urged long term safety studies, they were ignored – Institute for responsible technology
  • “A report by the US Centers for Disease Control shows that food related illnesses increased 2-to 10-fold in the years beween 1994 (just before GM food was commercialized) and 1999” –Institute for responsible technology
  • Farmers who reach out for help from the government are ignored because they say it is not their policy to get involved in private litigations. – The future of food
  • GMOs neither feed the world nor address nutrition problems. They are a cheap food source for factory farms and processed foods. – Food and Water Watch
  • Over 300 former congressional and white house staff member are now employed by biotech frims as lobbyists. – food and water watch
  • Staff members go back and forth working for the FDA and GMO companies. – GMO OMG
  • In March 2015 the World Health Organization’s International agency for research said glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”- Marion Nestle
  • Insects or wind can carry GMO pollen for miles and pollenate other plants. – GMO OMG
  • Because of this farmers could be growing GMO crops with out even knowing it. The farmers are then charged or taken to court by biotech companies that have patented the seeds for “planting them” with out a license.– The future of food
  • “Its been 20 years since the first genetically modified crops were approved in Canada. But theres been no evaluation from the federal goerment as to the risks and benefits of that experiment. “ – Lucy Sharratt, Canadian biotechnology action network.

Here’s Big Food’s side of the story:

  • GMO crops have been grown for 20 years, there is no evidence that says these crops lead to health problems. – Biotech industry
  • GMO Sugar is so highly processed that by the time you eat it it has no more GMO DNA left. – NPR
  • “It doesn’t matter which protein it is, or where it came from, it almost always ends up as nonfunctional pieces that are recycled to new dehydration reactions elsewhere in the body to create new proteins. There’s an exceptionally small chance for a novel GMO protein to survive the digestive system intact and functional, and GMO proteins are not any more likely than any other protein to do so.” – his science is too tight
  • Farmers are able to use less toxic pesticides which are safer for farmers and the environment. PBS
  • Farmers have higher yields of crops and increased income using GMO crops. – Biotech industry
  • Glyphosate is safe – Monsanto
  • GMO farmers say that they are feeding the world.- his science is too tight
  • “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health” – The WHO
  • Over 2,000 studies have been done on GM foods affirming their safety – Genetic Literacy Project
  • “FDA’s process for evaluating bioengineered foods is one in which the public can have confidence that food biotechnology products must meet the law’s safety standards.” – FDA
  • “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food…Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job” – Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto, quoted in New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998
  • “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” – FDA, “Statement of Policy Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 22991
  • GM animal feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. – Study of GMOs and food by the university of CA-Davis department of animal science in the Journal of animal science- Forbes

So what do you do if you don’t want to eat GMO crops? It can be difficult since they are in virtually everything but here are a few helpful tips.

  • Buy organic.
  • Shop at farmers markets or buy CSA boxes.
  • Choose non GMO foods. Look for the Non-GMO Project label.
  • Avoid buying nonorganic processed foods

Some Big Food companies wised up real quick when sales started to take a hit. Here is a list of companies that have now agreed to label GMO products

  • Campbell’s
  • General Mills (Cheerios are now GMO free)
  • Mars
  • ConAgra
  • Kellog

What do you think about GMOs? Are they feeding the world or are they making us sick?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.