All over Hawaii, food prices are ridiculous. Few items are made here which adds fuel and shipping costs to the price of everything. Even when a food product is made or manufactured on the islands, it likely has to move between them or buy electricity to power facilities.
Whatever the case, this island pays dearly for importing on a massive scale.
To deal with the prices, most people end up on food stamps or SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Especially in our area, which is removed 60 miles from either of the major cities (Kona and Hilo), adding even more fuel costs to shelf prices. According to the records of the state of Hawaii;
NATIONALLY: During FY 2010, the program served 40.3 million people, with a total Federal cost of $64.7 billion.
HAWAII: In FY 2011 for the State of Hawaii, there were:
An average of 77,133 households per month receiving SNAP.
An average of 154,496 individuals per month receiving SNAP.
An average of $33,427,096 was issued per month in SNAP benefits.
Even so, some people have adapted by participating in a weekly, local farmer’s market that is combined with a swap meet for material goods. The prices are slightly less because most of the food is directly from a local farm. We try to do all or most of our shopping there and can find all of the following goods:
- Veggies: Carrots, onions, various leafy greens (kale, chard, collards), beets, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, and many more.
- Fruits: Papaya (cheapest item), mangos, grapefruit, breadfruit, pineapples, bananas, tangerines, plus a few local fruits with names I cannot yet remember.
- Animal products: Fresh caught fish, fresh honey, and eggs.
We purchase Hawaiian rice in bulk at the local market and use a lot of sea salt. We try to limit our use of non-local items like vegetable oil by replacing it with coconut oil.
Jeremy used to cook professionally, so his dishes are always incredible. We spend a lot of time each day planning and preparing our meals. We have shopped at farmer’s market to save money for a long time, but it remains interesting to live in a place that forces you to pay attention to the food you buy.
We have to make smart choices every time we’re at the grocery store or we’ll destroy our savings.
This required mindfulness translates all the way to the table where we eat. As our number one expense and time consuming event, we care very much about food out here. As a result, we never eat out and our bodies are receiving fresh, consistent foods all the time. Personally, I feel great after every meal.
- Eating Hawaii (wildfree.me)
- Huffington Post Ranks Hilo’s Farmers Market One of the Tops in America (damontucker.com)
- Hawaii Regional Cuisine Celebration – 20th Anniversary (prweb.com)