with Emi Koch and Lauren Hill
Like many families across the world, every year we gather in the month of December to celebrate longtime traditions and share quality time. As the Billabong Women’s team, we packed our boardbags full of surf capsule and bikinis and headed to the North Shore of Oahu to trade the winter blues for Hawaiian hues. We gathered to trade waves, dream up new adventures, and play in the rolling Pacific, home to surfing’s deep roots.
While sipping coconut water and savoring sweet strawberry papayas, we couldn’t help but be curious about where our food on the island comes from. As the most isolated populous islands on Earth, Hawaii imports 90 percent of its food – this makes it not only expensive, but environmentally taxing.
On Oahu’s North Shore, more locals are keeping the country, country by growing foods locally in their backyards and on small-scale organic farms. As visitors, we wanted to make healthier choices for the planet, our bodies, and the local economy – so we sought out the healthiest homegrown goodness on the North Shore to dig into.
Here’s our curated list of top organic finds and grinds to check out when you visit...
1. Directly across from the Billabong House at Pipeline is Waihuena Farm, a small-scale, organic garden set within a diversified food forest, founded by Meleana Judd-Cox. Since 2009, they’ve been packing up weekly boxes filled with their fruit and veggies that they sell to locals and visitors alike, as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. In addition the weekly CSA, the farm serves as a community-gathering place with yoga classes, workshops, volunteer days, healthy potluck dinners, informative movie nights, farm-to-table events, toddler music groups, and a growing internship program.
2. A Woof-er harvests greens that you can scoop up at the Waihuena farm stand.
3. Beautiful Nasturtium blossoms are edible flowers that add spice and color to any salad.
4. The ‘Ulu, or breadfruit tree, is a staple Hawaiian source of food, medicine, and timber. ‘Ulu was one of the plants considered important enough to the life of the culture for earliestPolynesian settlers to have brought it in their canoes, traveling to Hawai`i Nei from Oceania.
5.Guacamole just isn’t the same without fresh, zesty cilantro, which thrives under the gentle Hawaiian winter sun.
6. Fresh food and flowers make for a beautiful life
7. Citrus and tropical Starfruit are staples at Waihuena farm this winter. Just prior to the 1920s, all agriculture was mainly organic -- farmers applied natural means to nurture the soil and tend to pests. After World War II, farming methods changed drastically. Chemicals designed as nerve gas were proved effective in killing insects and making industrial agriculture possible.
8. Farm founder and manager, Meleana, holds a Winged Bean that’s destined for a stir-fry or salad. Meleana grew up on Oahu and started Waihuena Farm after moving home from college. “My family runs a solar company, so I grew up in the renewable energy world – addressing the fossil fuel issue as a finite resource. I went to college on the mainland to a small liberal arts school and was like ‘hey, it’s not just energy issues, it’s food issues that really are important – food was easier for me to latch onto. Especially before you go away to college, food is kind of always just there, packed or prepared for you. Then at College you’re like ‘eww, dining hall food kinda sucks,’ which made me ask: “where does food come from?” Then back in Hawaii I started seeing how we import our energy, as oil, but also how we’re importing most of our food. We can get energy from the sun, and this is how I get my energy from the sun – I pick food and feed it to myself. For me it was the ultimate connection to nature: what is my place on the planet? How do I have perspective on that? I relate with nature and grow food.”
9. The Aloalo ko'ako'a, or Coral Hibiscus.
10. Don’t judge a fruit by its skin. Fruit that is scarred, marred or pocked on the outside may actually be more nutritious and antioxidant rich than the picture perfect ones. Just like us, environmental stress can make fruit healthier and more resilient.
11. As the first state to ban plastic bags, Hawaii isn’t afraid to take measures to protect its mystical islands.
12. ungry after visiting the farm, we headed into Haleiwa for lunch at the Beet Box Café, the staple healthy breakfast and lunch joint on the North Shore. Serving mostly organic, vegetarian fare, like toasted black bean burritos with fresh pico de gallo, the warm ambiance of Beet Box is the perfect place for a post-surf snack or meal.
13. The Pitaya Bowl at Beet Box café mixes up tropical fruit with tangy, organic pink dragon fruit, topped with protein rich hemp seed granola, banana, coconut, bee pollen and honey.
14. Virtually next door to Beet Box Café is Celestial Natural Foods, where you can stock up on local produce and healthful snacks. They also offer fresh, locally grown Cold Brew iced coffee on the fly.
15. We had to stop at Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s education station for a happy snap on the way through town. They’re a grassroots, local nonprofit organization who inspire communities to care for their coastlines by educating people about reducing their waste and through fun, hands-on beach cleanups.
16. The next day, after a morning surf, we met up with Katie Metzger, head beekeeper from Honeygirl Organics, who mix up luxe natural skincare crèmes and serums from homegrown honey. We arrived just in time harvest some golden honeycomb.
17. Katie’s been a beekeeper for nearly 10 years. She uses smoke to calm the bees before inspecting hives to make sure they’re healthy and pest free.
18. A honey bee flies up to 15 mph and its wings beat 200 times per second, or 12,000 beats / minute. Bees communicate, at least in part, through an intricate ‘waggle dance’ that let’s the other gals know where to find the best pollen and nectar.
18. One in every three bites of food depends on bees for pollination, and the annual value of pollination services worldwide are estimated at over $125 billion. In the United States, pollination contributes $20–$30 billion in agricultural production annually. And in California alone, almonds crops—entirely dependent on bees for pollination—are valued at over $3 billion.
19. Bees now face many threats to their wellbeing , including pesticide use and habitat loss. Supporting local beekeepers by buying local honey is an easy way to get involved.
20. One pound of honey requires the life’s work of around 10,000 bees. There are approximately 30,000- 50,000 bees per hive.
21. Every bee you see out pollinating is a female bee – the ladies do all the work in the hive.
22. Haleiwa Bowls is our top choice for organic Acai bowls or smoothies on the North Shore – no dairy or sugar added makes for one naturally sweet treat. Regionally unique toppings like Hawaiian spirulina and fresh lilikoi make them extra special.
23. The line-up for Haleiwa Bowls is always filled with colorful characters.
24. Sunflowers love the sun as much as we do. These faithful flowers pursue the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west, a process is known as heliotropism.
25. There are so many ways to positively impact the places we visit. Sometimes it means going against the grain to make the healthiest choices – but the rewards along the paths less travelled are always filled with the sweetest rewards.