Well, I’ve got some news for you guys. Many of you know that the once-Pre-Husband, now Full-Fledged-Awesome-Husband and I have been living in Hawaii on the island of Oahu for a while now.
But we’re over it.
We just got married, and have decided to move back to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where we both grew up, and where both of our families and many of our closest friends live. We’re moving to a new kind of paradise — the ultimate haven for all that is real food, green living, and crunchy granola-type weirdos like us…. Portland, Oregon!
We can’t wait. There are so many reasons why we’re ready to move on from our island home of the past several years. This place is the worst when you care about what you eat and want to live a healthy lifestyle. I thought I’d give you a little taste of what it’s been like, and why this move couldn’t be any more perfect for us.
Top Ten Reasons Why I’m Stoked to Leave Hawaii
In no particular order…
1. Beef. For days.
I have to drive about 45 minutes away to the other side of the island to find grass-fed beef, and it’s limited to only very expensive cuts of steak, or ground beef. My only other option is to take over an hour’s drive into Honolulu, stop by the hospital, sell my left kidney, and then purchase grass-fed beef at the Whole Foods. No thanks.
In Oregon (and in most places on the mainland…), you can buy a quarter of an entire grass-fed cow for less $ per pound than what even pink-slime-laden CAFO meat sells here. Oh and, you also might actually have room for a chest freezer to store it all!
2. I won’t have to buy dog food to eat anymore.
I’m not kidding. My only source of grass-fed liver, soup bones, organ meats, and other weird traditional foods has been a lady that buys them from a farm on the Big Island and sells them to people to feed to their dogs.
No one else buys the scraps of the slaughterhouse, the odd, unwanted bits which as we Real Foodies know are the most nutritious offerings of the animals! But in Oregon, you can easily get these things from health food stores or local farmers. There’s enough of us out there that will buy it to make it available, but few enough so that it’s still super cheap.
Oh dear, sweet Lord! The amazing blessing of real, raw milk is a reality in the great state of Oregon. Farm sales of raw milk are entirely legal, and you can bet your sweet, creamy grass-fed tushie I’ll be taking advantage of this heavenly perk.
Raw milk in Hawaii? HA! That’s a pipe dream. We’re the worst state in the whole country for having access to real milk. There’s only three, teeny little dairies in the whole state, and all of them have been harassed and threatened by the FDA enough to not even consider allowing cow shares. Literally your only chance at having raw milk in Hawaii is to milk it yourself from your own dairy animal. And with the cost of a property (without acreage to raise animals) averaging around half a million dollars on Oahu, good luck with that one!!
4. Eggs won’t cost me $8 a dozen.
Actually, I’ll be able to get them from my backyard!
Our little home in Portland is on about a third of an acre, so, that’s plenty of space to have a few laying hens. I tried convincing the mister that we could throw in a miniature cow as well, but that didn’t go over so well. Chickens it is, then.
5. Monsanto doesn’t completely own every single farmer within a 500 mile radius in Portland.
Watch this video and you’ll start to understand:
There are less than 100 acres of organic farmland on Oahu. EVERYTHING else is dominated by Monsanto.
In the video, that plot of land across the street from the elementary school in Haleiwa, where they spray their toxic chemicals DAILY, is a block away from the property on which I’ve been living for the past year. I legitimately, honestly, have feared for my health and safety while living in Hawaii. I truly believe Oahu especially is becoming a dangerous place to live because of the influence of Monsanto. I would not even consider raising a family here. Ack, ick, I just don’t even want to think about what I’ve already been exposed to. I just want out!
Organic blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, marionberries, boysenberries, snozberries (okay just kidding about that last one) are available for picking yourself at farms all over the many rural farming communities near Portland. Oh and, there are FREE berries that just grow all over the place that you can take, for free! Blackberries. The most delicious weed you’ll ever eat.
7. Farmer’s markets that aren’t awful.
Actually, they’re rated some of the best in the country! Over 250 vendors from local farms, dairies, nurseries, fisheries, bakeries and thousands of real foodies flock to the Portland State University farmers’ market every week. The city of Portland actually made an exemption to the state’s raw milk laws, which don’t allow sales at the retail level, just so that farmers could sell raw dairy to consumers at the market. Isn’t that awesome?
Every farmers’ market I have been to in Hawaii has been ridiculously disappointing. Not only are the prices inflated, instead of reduced as you would expect from having cut out the middle man and the overhead of a grocery store, but the food that’s being sold is often not even local! I figured out pretty quickly that you have to ask each vendor if they’re actually a farmer, or if the food came from China. How insane is that?! Shipping heavily-pesticide-contaminated and not-even-close-to-being-organic produce from overseas is common practice for farmers’ markets here, from what I have seen. And, tragically, whatever local farms the vendors do represent are often not organic and are patrons of Monsatan. See reason #5 above.
8. A real kitchen.
Y’all. I’ve been cooking in a kitchen made for Keebler elves. See for yourself:
No, that’s not just one angle. That’s the entire thing. I mean, I know I’m rather miniature myself, but this just ain’t cuttin’ it.
My new kitchen will be real-people-sized. I will even have the following luxuries at my disposal in our new mainland home:
- A dishwasher. A DISH. WASHER!!! That washes the dishes. FOR you.
- A full-sized oven. You can make a lot more fudge cookies that way.
- An in-sink garbage disposal. And thus, not having to fend off mice and ants and other varmint trying to eat the food things in the garbage.
- Far fewer, or dare I say, probably zero giant cockroaches flying into my food cooking on the stovetop.
- SPACE. On counters, in cupboards, in drawers, to actually turn around without knocking a pot of spaghetti sauce over.
This list isn’t even the half of it. I…I can barely contain myself, I am so excited.
9. Unlimited crock pot usage.
I’ve been living in a solar-powered hippie hut for more than a year, now. Things like hairdryers, toaster ovens, and televisions are generally off limits when your energy doesn’t come from a power grid.
I can’t say I’ll miss that. I mean, I’m all for renewable energy sources, but you sure do have to sacrifice a lot to be that green. Call me high-maintenance, but I can’t wait to use a cooking appliance without having to rev up a generator or give up on running the washing machine for the day. And crock pots are like the ULTIMATE secret weapon in a smart Real Foodie’s arsenal. Take five minutes to toss in a cheap roast and some veggies, press a button, and your dinner for the night is made for you while you go about your day. Doesn’t get much better than that! So I’ll probably be firing up one of those babies at least a few nights a week, now that I’ll be connected to city power.
Oh but, get this — over 40% of the electricity in Portland is generated not by coal or oil, but from the current of the Columbia river! So I won’t even feel that bad about my increased energy usage. An embarrassing (and guilt-inducing) 97% of Hawaii’s electricity comes from imported oil. So I guess even though it wasn’t exactly convenient, I was glad that 100% of ours at least, came from the sun.
10. Fellow weirdo real food hippies.
Um, duh. Have you seen Portlandia?
Clearly, we’re making the right choice, here.
But, alright. So those were all food-related reasons. Obviously, more important than these is the fact that we’ll be back to being near friends and family — Mr. B’s whole family lives in Portland, and mine is just a few hours north in Seattle. We’re sick of only seeing them once a year at Christmas time, and spending our last dollar just to get ourselves there! And we’re just so excited to start our newly-married life together in a place that just feels like home.
What about you?
Have you ever moved to a place that was much more foodie-friendly than where you had been living? Any Portlanders out there by any chance that wanna show me the ropes when I get there?
Again, congratulations on the wedding, and much luck on the move! I have some friends who reside in Portlandia and regularly hear about how awesome it is. Even thought about looking for work out there until I saw Portlandia and realized it was a little TOO crunchy for me. (Yeah I know it’s a TV show, but my personality has a dose of NYC in it.)
Joining a WAPF group will help you get the lay of the land and some sources for good, healthy foods. I bet they have a great group on Portland.
Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures says
Oh, I can feel your excitement! I had no idea how bad it was to live in Hawaii if you want real food!
So happy for you! I’ve always wanted to visit Portland (former Californian, now living in NC)! And wow, I never knew about Monsanto’s huge presence in Hawaii — thanks for the info!
Did you see this?
Susan W says
Congratulations on your marriage! Actually, yesterday I took pause and wondered where is my gal from HI?
I just am back from Norway and they sell on the roadsides these tiny, extremely tasty strawberries which they pour heavy cream onto. Also saw all their cows grazing on grass when I was about and around.
I used to live in Central OR in 1980-82, so I know how you feel about OR. It’s hippie friendly!
Sonia (foodiesleuth) says
I’m sorry you feel the way you do about Hawai’i… I’ve been living on the Big Island for 18 years and I find and eat “REAL FOOD” on a regular basis. Yes, we have several cattle farmers who raise grass fed beef and we can find it at our local KTA supermarkets if you can’t deive to JJ Market in Honoka’a to get some – Sometimes I do, just to get it direct and take a cooler with me.
We have almost 30 farmers markets on the BI and many of them do not allow vendors to sell anything they did not grow, manufactured or produced themselves. If there are some who allow vendors to sell ‘purchased’ imported goods, blame it on the management of the market, not Hawai’i.
We have quite a few CSA farmers who raise organic food on a regular basis.
I am very disappointed in you (after having found your wonderful blog) for giving the whole state of Hawai’i a slap in the face.
There are REAL FOODIES in Hawai’i who have eaten grown locally only food for certain periods of time to prove that it can be done. Our Slow Food Hawai’i group, the Kohala Initiative and Kanu Hawai’i could have shown you how to do it.
I hope you find your own brand of Paradise on the mainland…Meantime, I will continue to enjoy my own Paradise in my own little corner of this incredible place.
Sonia, just read this blog article today ( http://www.kalishresearch.com/blog/?p=161), and it sounds like you’re in good company! Don’t know if you are familiar with the people mentioned?
charissa pacheco says
Sonia, Sounds like the Big Island is WAY better for real foodies than Oahu. I find all of her points to be true, unfortunately. I do the one hour drive to get grass-fed beef (we made room for an extra freezer even though we live in a 400 square foot apartment.) I can NOT get my hands on raw milk at any price. I did have a tiny farmers market with real farmers when I lived in Kapolei (as long as I was willing to get up and get there between 7 and 8 am on Sunday morning) but when I first went to the Waianae one after moving out here, there was ONE produce vendor and it was all pre-packaged. I recently went to check them out again and there were a couple farmers set up, so maybe there is hope yet. It is hard and EXPENSIVE to eat right here. But I’ll take the weather over the easy real food any day 🙂 LOL – heading to Portland and Seattle for vacation soon. Hope I’m singing the same tune when we get back 😉
Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid says
My husband has been dreaming about moving to Hawaii for some time, so I read this to him and I think he might have changed his mind just a little bit, haha. Congrats on your wedding and on the big move to Portland — I hear great things about Oregon (well, except for the weather). Looking forward to reading about your real food adventures in granola-land! 🙂
I’m glad you’re moving to Portland! Where exactly are you going? I live in Beaverton close by…I would love to know where you’re going for you real food resources once you get here! I’d be happy to share mine if you like…
We only spent a couple of weeks in Hawaii and found the price of anything that was consumed to be outrageous! That was until we found a great fish market and could get fish caught that day. Of course you have to consider that it is an island and many things have to be flown in. I currently live in Albuquerque and love my part of town because of the great markets, health food stores and lifestyle of the people here. It’s like a healthy community. Unfortunately, there are other areas of town I can’t stand to even go in to. Every restaurant and grocery store is a chain. But then I guess most towns are like that. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience in Hawaii, but it sounds like you made the most of it and married your soulmate. Have a wonderful trip back home!
Lori @ Laurel of Leaves says
Welcome back to the mainland! My studhubs and I have been dreaming/planning a big trip down (or up?) the PCH at some point in the next couple of years. Maybe I’ll actually be able to meet you in person when we come through Portland! 😉
PS – you sound just like me freaking out about the bigger kitchen! You’re going to LOVE it!
Julia in West Des Moines, IA says
Been reading for months now. I had no idea what Hawaii living was like. happy for you both!
Congratulations on the big move!! I’m on the WA side of the Columbia. My favorite place to visit is Sauvie Island…which I do at least once a week. LOVE it! You’re right about the availability of real food here. It’s nice living in an area where other people understand the words “raw”, “cultured”, and “fresh!” 🙂 Of course, the other perks (dishwasher, normal-sized kitchen, etc.) are pretty good too!
Nevra @ ChurnYourOwn says
Interesting. I sort of suspected as much. And I’m with you – I’d *much* prefer Oregon since I, too, am a fan of beef, dairy, etc. On the other hand, I think that seeking out these foods on an island like Oahu, given its climate, sort of goes against the whole locavore concept. After all, I don’t think that the type of cows that produce delicious milk, like Jersey cows, can survive in Hawaii. Also, I’m not aware of any native populations on tropical islands anywhere in the world that traditionally consumed much if any beef or dairy. I guess my point is that, if moving to a tropical island, one should plan to only consume seafood, taro root, coconut, papayas and other such foods that are native. But I know it’s difficult. In fact, as I write this, I realize that I’m also not a very good locavore because I use a lot of coconut products, which I know is not native to the mid-Atlantic US.
Best of luck to you in Oregon. I often fantasize about living there or someplace like it one day too.
Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! says
Hope your move to Portland goes well! My hubby and I just recently discovered Portlandia, and loved it! The first 2 sketches of the first show were so right-on with both of us! While I haven’t been to Portland, from what I’ve heard Boulder is a smaller version of it. 😉
I’ve really been wanting to go visit the Pacific Northwest again. We went for our honeymoon, but that was 12 years ago! We’ll have to make sure Portland is part of our trip whenever we decide to go.
I am so jealous!! My husband and I left our beloved Portland, OR and moved to Chicago for school/work 2 years ago. I miss the Pac NW so very much! Hope your move goes smoothly and you enjoy all Portland has to offer!
Welcome back to the PNW! I’m in the Portland area and you’ll find a ton of good info about local farms and food on my blog–oregonfoodshed.com.
As you know, this area has an amazing amount and variety of sustainably grown food. All the best with the move and let me know if you have any specific questions–would love to hear from you.
Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D says
I never knew that about Hawaii and Monsanto. Interesting.
I lived in Wisconsin for about 3 years and I missed Chicago like crazy. I tried every pizza north of the border only to find that there’s no place like home.
I also stayed in L.A. on biz for about 6 months and I missed steak – beef – any cow parts…like mad. Fish yes. Cow? Not so much.
Good luck with the move!
Wow, thanks for reminding me about paradise. I’m a fellow Oregonian and I tend to take those gooseberries and blackberries in my backyard for granted. I didn’t realize Hawaii was Monsanto infested…so sad. Best of luck on your move and welcome back.
Emma @ Craving Fresh says
So exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about your new digs.
Dishwashers are wonderful. I just got one last Christmas after living 3 1/2 years without one. Now dishes take 5 minutes instead of an hour, and I don’t have to decide what to cook based on the number of pots and utensils it will use. Enjoy it!
Pretty excited to have you out our way! Portland is a wonderful Mecca for real foodies and real food restaurants!(although you still have to watch for those nasty oils). We moved from Maui 7 years ago and still miss the weather and culture every single day! Can’t wait to start reading your Portland posts!
Frank Giglio says
My wife an I had the opportunity to live in Hawaii after a 3.5 week visit. We quickly decided NO, for many of the same reasons as you! We opted to head back to New England and purchase a home near Portland, Maine.. Hawaii for us is a wonderful break from the long cold winters, but anything more then a few weeks is not optimal for us.
Congratulations on your marriage! You two seem very happy together and long may it last 🙂
I don’t live in the States (or even on your side of the Atlantic), but I’ve travelled over a few times. You really make me want to checkout Oregon; I’ve wanted to see Seattle for a while now, so stopping one State down for a bit couldn’t hurt 😀
Anyway, it looks like you’re on to a winner with your new home, I wish you much luck 🙂
Brenda, aka The Farmer's Wife says
You’re gonna love Oregon! 🙂 We live in Molalla, which is just South of Portland. Hey, I think we raise and sell those chickens they were serving at that restaurant in Portlandia! 🙂 Hee, hee! We don’t name the chickens we butcher, though. 😉
Tips: We just tried a diner called Beesaws that serves local, yummy foods and makes gluten free French Toast. It was yummy!
We L-O-V-E Meriwethers for good, local, farm fresh, date-night food.
If you like books, of course, go to Powell’s! If you like gelato, go right across the street! Books and gelato–you can’t go wrong with that! 🙂
If you’re painting your new home, check out Divine Paint colors. You don’t have to actually buy their paint (it’s more spendy, though it really does paint on like yogurt & is a low odor paint). Just match their colors though–they’re made for the gloomy days in the PNW and they rock!
If you like Thrift Store shopping, check out Red, White and Blue. It can get busy at times, but I’ve found some pretty amazing deals there (all of my cutest skirts are from that store!).
Flying Pie makes the BEST pizza ever, and they have a GF crust. (there happens to be a Flying Pie just down the street from Red, White & Blue 😉
The Hawthorne Fish House & The Corbett Fish House make awesome rice flour fish & chips.
We grow amazing soy free, corn free, organically-fed & pastured chickens and pork on our farm. 😉 (purelifefarm.com) 🙂
The Farmer’s Markets are pretty cool here. I love the Lake Oswego one and the Tualatin one, though not as busy as it should be (what’s with these folks? Support your farmers, people!), is BEAUTIFUL because it’s right on the water.
I could go on! 🙂
ENJOY your move with your new hubby!! 🙂
Hey Brenda!! What an awesome introduction to the PDX scene, thank you!! I can’t wait to check all those out! Hahah I think Colin the chicken probably did come from your farm… LOL! UM I think I might need to come visit… at least to buy some of your amazing sounding food but mostly because I just would love to meet you in person! We are in Milwaukie and I just went to my very first farmer’s market today. It was incredible!! I think everyone was staring at me because my jaw was on the floor the entire time! 😀 You should let me know next time you head up to a market or something and maybe we could meet up! Big hugs! 🙂
Megan of RojerThat.com says
OMG Ha! I did find a good grass fed dude at the Ala Moana farmers market but he is a bit steep as you say. I love the butter I found, cannot remember the name of the dairy, they had coconut flakes in butter.. nummy!
Hope Oregon is treating you in a realfood raw milk crunchy Birkenstock sort of way! xo deb
LOL, yes a very lovely crunchy Birkenstock way of life it is here in Oregon! Hahaha 🙂 Oh yes, that little dairy on island is pure, pure heaven. I was grateful to them for their grass-fed butter, though it was crazy expensive and I couldn’t afford to eat much of it. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I know of the grass-fed meat man you’re talking about… I’ve got some crazy, scary stories about him. Damn near had to get a restraining order on the guy. Uh yeah, can’t say I’m really missing Hawaii much these days! 😉
interesting breakdown of oahu! i grew up here, i agree whole foods sucks, unless you like $2 oranges. Big island is the greatest place in america for living eating swimming and an active lifestyle year round. Oregon is great too! those berries tell no lies!
But i can seasonally pick endless guavas, mangos, llilikoi, and once you know people 100’s of exotic fruits that could never hit a market, that you will never see in continental us. Fruit paradise is the big island, cheap local beef everywhere, seasonal fresh ingredients overflow. Fruit rots the ground. Abundance ! For your lifestyle you may have picked the wrong island. But on oahu we could use a few less people, so good luck 🙂 Your trippin bout beef, foodland has grass fed for pretty cheap. BUt your kinda right too oahu may be doomed!
Dude I am SO bummed that I never got to even see big island the whole time I lived there. From what I’ve heard, it’s the complete opposite of Oahu in almost every way (especially with all the things I complained about here) and is exactly like you’ve described and I probably would have wanted to move there and never leave if I would have gotten the chance to experience it. We definitely “picked the wrong island,” haha. (We didn’t choose to move to HI though, my husband got transfered there for his work so we would feel like a-holes moving to big island for no reason.) Anyway, we definitely plan on coming back to visit. But we love our hippie tree-hugging granolaness here in Oregon now a lot. 🙂 Oh and yeah right, show me a foodland that has grass fed beef on Oahu! Haha I checked every damn one of them and complained to their meat department! LOL.
Congrats on your marriage and new digs…I’m another Hawaii Island transplant–from Olympia. And I’m here to echo some of my fellow Big Islanders: this island is a foodie’s paradise!
I do not have a car but I can find local grass-fed beef at all the tiny mom and pop neighborhood convenience stores on (and off) the bus line. Raw cow butter is hard to find, but raw goat’s milk is easy to obtain once you meet someone with some milking nannies–very popular here. I eat the eggs my little wild flock of hens leave around my house–but to buy local organic direct, I pay $4-6/dozen when my hens are on sabbatical. There’s food dripping from the forest around my home, free to the taking…ulu, coconut, avocado, lilikoi, guava, poha, and RASPBERRIES, the native variety. The same invasive Himalayan blackberries that invade Cascadia are abundant near Volcano. Lots of people grow blueberries developed especially for our island zones. . . I must confess that when the fresh crop of WA apples hits in the fall, I always treat myself!
Last, but not least…though it can get hot on the Kona side during summer, overall the island is much cooler than Oahu. You couldn’t pay me to live there!
Best of luck in Portland….my favorite American city!
Aloha Congrats on your wedding.I would like to know where are You buying your grass fed meat in oahu ?I am looking for place like this, so far i finded eggs from grass fed chickens, I am buying them in kokua and yes they cost more than 8 $ soo expensive.What do you think about eating local wild caught fish like mahi mahi or opah i think thats how you call it.Imoved out from Oahu one year ago to Colorado for six months and I moved back to Honolulu for job reasons ,but I don’t want too live hear forever maybe for couple more yearsI love surfing :).Before I used to buy csa box from Mao organic farm but how do i know they are not contaminated with monsanto crops ?Anyway thanks for your help ,good luck to You.Mahalo
Elizabeth N. says
I just had to let you know that your blog post made me laugh. I ran into it while trying (trying is the key word here) to find information on good whole food resources in Hawaii. We just recently moved to Oahu, right when I started delving into whole foods. It didn’t take me long to realize that I have no real chance at an amazing whole foods diet as long as I am here, especially as our budget (major pay cut when we moved here) won’t allow us to pay an arm and a leg for eggs and meat. Love Hawaii, but so glad we wont be here for forever.
Your post almost makes this East Coast girl want to move to Portland. Sounds so dreamy.
I know this post is about a year old but I was wondering if you had any tips for eating real food on Oahu? My family of four live here and would appreciate any advise you may have to share 🙂
That’s funny but only because I can relate! We live on the windward side of Oahu and we are also moving to Portland in a little over two years. I love it here but I am SOOOO looking forward to having access to real food (including RAW MILK!!) again. Drives me absolutely crazy that I can’t find any cream for my coffee that isn’t ultra-pasteurized and contains carrageenan. I found one source for eggs but it’s tenuous at best so I’m just waiting for the day when that access is taken away. For the rest of us in Hawaii, check out US Wellness Meats for your meat supply. Yes, it is a little expensive but aren’t we used to that anyway? They have grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, pork, lamb, and all kinds of cuts of each (including organ meats and bones). And as long as you order over $75 they will Fed-Ex it to you overnight for free. I’ve never had any issues with it being thawed out even when it sits outside by my door while I’m at work all day.
You will LOVE Portland. Do you really have to wait two years to move? I hope not!
Kualoa was my best bet for grass-fed meat there. The prices are semi-reasonable, for HI standards, especially the ground beef. It just sucked having to drive all the way over there. But that’s good that you can order from US Wellness for what you can’t get locally.
You can find grass-fed meats (and non-UHT/carrageenan cream) everywhere, here. 😉
No doubt Monsanto is pure evil for any place it settles (which is many in the world), but I’ve been able to buy local organic and imported organic since I moved here over a year ago.
There’s plenty of places to buy organic here on Oahu including Whole Foods.
Where have you been looking?
On top of that- I’ve decided to stay and fight the good fight. Its worth fighting and there are a lot of people involved.
Despite its small amount of urban problems, this is a great place to be.
I’ve always led a healthy lifestyle but I find it to be much easier to create here. The sun, the air and just general low stress environment is wonderful.
Whatever you do- I wish you well.
Finally!!! Someone who TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS how living in Hawaii is really like when it comes to healthy eating.