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Health Food Markets - Honolulu and O'ahu

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Had trouble with posting replies to the discussion of Kokua vs Down To Earth and thought it might be worthwhile staring a thread about the various options for healthy/natural/whole food markets.

I've always liked Kokua in principle because it is a cooperative - my aging boomer heritage speaking here - but both Kokua and DTE are nearby, so I could easily shop both. I choose not to shop DTE for reasons other than cost or food issues, so I can't compare prices directly. Kokua members get numerous discounts, and your membership fee is fully refundable if you quit or leave town.

DTE is bigger, and has other locations, so they benefit from economies of scale, as does Whole Foods. Kokua and Umeke are smaller stores and single sites, so are at a disadvantage there.

Kokua however does offer a pretty good selection of organic and local meats (Shinsato Farm pork, grass fed Big Island Beef, etc) and is now getting fresh fish from the Pier 38 fish auction every week. DTE carries no meats whatsoever.

Whole Foods has the biggest stores and widest selections, but I find it hard to get bargains their. On the other hand, their cheese selection is unmatched, and the butcher counter is excellent. You can get a single portion there which at times is a plus (I got one organic chicken breast the other day...just the amount I needed),

Have not been in Umeke lately, so wonder what plusses and minuses others may want to add for them, or for the markets already mentioned, and any I may have overlooked.

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  1. I have fond memories of Down To Earth because we always uwent there for dinner-vegetrian- when we stayed in Waikiki. But we only ate there, nevr really shopped there, though. Haven't been to HI for about 5 years. I think its time to go again.

    1. I shop occasionally and very selectively at DTE only because it is close to me. It's probably hard to find bargains at any natural foods store on Oahu, don't you think?

      One time when I was in high school and didn't know any better (I thought it was gourmet and natural foods store) I asked one of the employees at DTE if they carried squid ink pasta. You would have thought I had asked if they carried butchered babies or something, the guy was so offended. Well, I will never forget, no animal products at DTE.

      3 Replies
        1. re: macaraca

          Hmm, they do carry honey and milk. I guess no animal products that require killing an animal then. Vegetarian, not vegan.

          1. re: macaraca

            the mention of honey makes me interject here, try keawe white volcano island honey. whole foods has it. i visted the farm on the big island and will never look at other honeys with the same love again. expensive, but worth every thick, creamy, opalescent scoop again.

        2. Whole Foods has more bargains than one would assume from their "whole paycheck" image. I've found many of their 365 house brand products to be excellent and reasonably priced - I have in mind things like canned beans, bottled dried spices like bay leaves, tea bags, and bottled German and Dijon mustard. Their happy hour special of a slice of pizza and a beer for $5 has a lot of takers too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: honu2

            Agree that if you shop selectively you can find reasonable prices. They had a good price on slivered almonds that I needed for a recipe. Also found small containers of duck fat, not cheap, but just couldn't find anywhere else.

            I like the bacon you can get in the butcher case..you can buy it by weight, not pre-packaged, and the price is pretty fair. I've seen the same service at the new Safeway on Beretania, but nowhere else.

          2. The big difference is: Kokua Market is an organic store which includes meat products; DTE is an organic store specializing in vegetarian/vegan products only - no animal products. Thought I put in my 2-cents worth in this discussion.