Hawaii's Mango Crop Failed in 2011

Hilo Farmers Market Is Grade A

There’s no place equal to farmers markets when it comes to trying the best and most unusual of Hawaii’s tropical produce and flowers.  And at the top of my list in Hawaii is the Hilo Farmers Market.

U.S.D.A. has proclaimed August 1-7, 2010 as National Farmers Market Week. To celebrate, I headed to Hilo yesterday and their market on Hawaii’s Big Island

Prior to going I downloaded a coupon for two dollars off their official t-shirt. To redeem just head to the manager’s office around the corner from the market. The t-shirts run small so keep that in mind when purchasing.

Jeff is Beat of Hawaii’s food critic/chef. Here’s what he liked at yesterday’s market.

Mangoes.  Hayden and other varieties were plentiful and cheap. I purchased four large mangoes for $5.

Avocados.  Again many varieties.  I ended up with a two pound Sharwell for $1.

Papayas.  Big Island has great papayas, and I picked just the ripeness and size I wanted.  Price averaged 50 cents a pound or less.

Vegetables.  Superior quality, tremendous variety and a number of organic choices.

Flowers.  Big Island excels in flower growing (and export).  At the Hilo Market, you can come back to your hotel/condo with a large bouquet of anthuriums for as little as $2.  They last so long that you’ll be able to take them home on the plane with you.  Tip: After a visual inspection, anthuriums can be brought back to the mainland.

And the unusual.  A vendor gave me a large breadfruit, which has an unusual texture and mild sweet taste that makes for excellent curry.  How about Jaboticaba?  These are tree grapes which originated in Brazil.  Concord grape-like in a way, fabulous.

Two-hundred vendors translates to an abundance in terms of variety and competition with very reasonable prices.  Wednesdays and Saturday have the most vendors from 6am to 4pm.  Other days with fewer vendors from 7am to 4pm.

The number of farmers markets nationwide has tripled since 1994 to over 5,000.  Over the past few years, farmers markets seem to have become incredibly popular, including throughout the islands.

There’s even a new mystery book series set in a farmers market. If you’re an enthusiast of books and food I suggest reading Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton (which Jeff is holding in the picture).

If you have a favorite farmers market in Hawaii, be sure to leave a comment.

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7 thoughts on “Hilo Farmers Market Is Grade A”

  1. I was staying on the Big Island last month and visited the Hilo Farmers Market and it was amazing. The fruit expecialy the mangos, papayas, and pineapples were super cheap yet fresh and sweet. There is such a huge variety and it was near other shops that it is a must when visiting Hilo.

  2. The Hilo market is the go to place because it’s always open. Saturdays are great because of the other side of the road, lots of great island products. Try Maku’u to find some really unusual fruits that seem to be very off the beaten track..the egg yolk fruit for example. But it is only open Sundays, come late, eat at the booths and make sure you try the various avocado dips, I think they are incredibly interesting as they last for awhile, with intense avo flavor

  3. Have visited boht the Hilo and Honokowai markets. Comments above about the Maui market are dead on – small, but excellent, and the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. The Hilo market is fun and fascinating – the variety of tropical fruits and flowers is mind-boggling. You can also pick up inexepensive souvenirs and mementos there – I’m still wearing a woven bracelet I bought there more than four years ago!

  4. We live in Mountain View on the Big Island for part of the year and the rest of the time in Michigan. On Sundays we like to go to the Volcano Farmers Market – 6:30 AM until 10AM, then head down to the Farmers market in Maku’u. Saturday mornings, The Hilo Coffee Mill has a Farmers Market where they also cook delicious fresh breakfasts and have live entertainment. Of course we also love the Hilo Farmers Market too!

  5. I would love to go to the Hilo Market.! If I ever get to Hawaii, I bet I know who I’ll ask to go with me. Thanks for the report, Rob and Jeff. And, thanks for including my book. You guys are terrific.

    Best to you both.

    Paige Shelton

  6. While not nearly as abundant as the Hilo market, we like the Farmers Market Maui. In Honokowai, Maui (Lower Honoapiilani Road north of Ka’anapali).

    It’s a good place to purchase on that part of the island.

    MWF mornings there are vendors in the parking lot, and the store itself is open regular hours with a pretty good selection, including great guacamole, salad bar, general health food stuff.

    Across the street is the Honokowai Beach Park, and Bad Ass coffee is right on the corner of the building.

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