Food Box

Loving the Kokua

Maybe September’s Eat Local Challenge got you thinking about how to vote with your dollars. Maybe it left you sitting in the shade, eating an OnoPop. Either reaction is awesome for October: It’s National Cooperative Month! A great time to drink artisanal beer (after all, it’s also Oktoberfest), carve pumpkins (shout out to Halloween) and celebrate at Kokua Market, “the only natural foods cooperative in Hawaiʻi!”

“Certainly we will be having special discounts, an ownership drive and in-store demos,” says Larry Kirby, store manager, of National Co-op Month events.

Kokua Market was founded in 1970, by folks who wanted more control over what they ate, where it came from and how they got it. Now, 40 years later, Kokua is a hopping little grocery store. The co-op features locally and organically grown produce, hormone and antiobiotic-free meats, a nice bulk section (with everything from rice to shade-grown coffee), a deli of fresh and tasty prepared foods (tofu musubi, $1.50), a cluster of outside tables, eco-friendly household supplies and cosmetics. Kokua’s mission is “to operate thriving grocery stores in accordance with cooperative principles and to promote healthy, sustainable living in Hawaii.”

Like other cooperatives, Kokua is business-owned and democratically run by its members (not by outside investors). The people who “use the co-op’s services or buy its goods” are the same people who make decisions about how the co-op functions. It’s a truly local, alternative business model. —

2643 S. King St., [], 941-1922