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Natural Competitors: Down to Earth vs. Whole Foods

Hawai‘i’s two biggest natural-food grocery stores are almost neighbors in Kaka‘ako.


Food Fight

Photo: Courtesy of Down to EArth Kakaʻako


Natural and organic supermarket powerhouses Down to Earth and Whole Foods Market opened just 12 days and 0.7 miles apart (according to mapquest.com) this spring. The double openings sent health-conscious townies into a frenzy, at least from what we could see from the crowds around the hot food bars—the biggest ones in the state for both stores. In the battle for the organic shopper, which wins the Kaka‘ako round?


When it comes to size, Whole Foods Market strikes a TKO with 72,000 square feet over two floors. Down to Earth has 13,000 square feet. Down to Earth, which opened its first location in Wailuku in 1977, edges out its Amazon-owned competitor on the vegetarian front—everything in the store is meatless. When it comes to local produce, Down to Earth CEO Mark Fergusson says 40 percent of their fruits and veggies are local. Whole Foods Market Queen features items from more than 60 local produce suppliers. Looking at those numbers is like, well, comparing Ka‘ū oranges and mountain apples, so we leave that to you.


As for what else shoppers will find inside, we let the two stores square off in 16 nonscientifically selected categories. Let the battle begin.


Down to Earth Kaka‘ako

500 Keawe St., (808) 465-5512, downtoearth.org

Down to Earth

Photo: Enjy El-Kadi

  • Locally Owned

    • For more than 40 years, this local store has been banging out winnah winnah veggie dinnahs.

  • Freshly Ground Pistachio Butter

    • Price is a little nuts ($31 per pound), but if you regularly buy pistachios you’re used to shelling out big bucks.

  • Completely Vegetarian

  • Build-Your-Own-Pizza

  • Free On-Site Parking

    • One hour free with validation.

  • Giant Scones

    • (If you can grab one before they sell out.)

  • Beet Burgers Made On-Site

    • Hard to beet this burger that combines mushrooms, garlic, sunflower seeds, beans, onions, flavorful seasonings and, of course, beets!

  • Chill Atmosphere


SEE ALSO: Now Open: Take a Look Inside the New Down to Earth in Kaka‘ako


Whole Foods Market Queen

388 Kamake‘e St,. Suite 100, (808) 379-1800, wholefoodsmarket.com

Whole Foods Queens

Photo: David Croxford


  • Alcohol Selection

    • A thousand varieties to select from, including affordable wines, top-notch spirits and local beers.

  • Poke Bowls To Go

    • Troll the poke bar and find sustainable, wild-caught seafood, the majority of which is purchased at the Honolulu Fish Market.

  • Free On-Site Parking

    • Free during store hours.

  • Mac ’N’ Cheese Bar

  • Brand-Specific Store With Cute Reusable Totes

    • Totes-amazing, Hawaiʻi-inspired bags, beach towels and hats are part of Whole Foods’ first-ever dedicated retail shop.

  • Real Cheese

  • Mochi Ice Cream And Macaron Buffet

    • (Buy one or a dozen to go.)

  • Most Likely To Get Lost In

  • Date-Night Spot

    • Two in-store bars, if you need some help.


SEE ALSO: Here’s a Look Inside the Biggest Whole Foods Market Store in Hawai‘i






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Honolulu Magazine October 2018
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