Maili Moa's Local Eggs
Maili Moa egg farm tries a new way of getting eggs onto Island tables.
Few of us consider the number of hands it takes to bring one local egg to our table, but maybe we should. There are only four local commercial egg farms remaining on Oahu, and, at farms like Maili Moa in Waianae, it’s more than just a business; it’s a way of life. Minda Cortado, the farm’s manager, is passionate about what she does. “Our job is like family. Our chickens are like family. There are no shortcuts in what we do.”
At Maili Moa, the day begins at 7:30 a.m., when Cortado, her family and three employees feed the chickens and make sure their water cups are set. Then they collect the eggs, approximately 5,000 a day. The eggs are sent to a washroom and placed on a machine conveyer belt to be bathed and scrubbed. Then they are sized and sorted by hand, placed into trays, loaded in cases and moved straight into the refrigerator. The entire process takes about six hours, which means consumers can have a fresh egg on their table in less than 24 hours.
Along with Cortado, the farm’s owner, Mark Takaki, must also keep up with the maintenance of the farm, tend to the health of the chickens and pay the bills, which got even harder this year. The state had been providing a feed subsidy of up to 50 percent to help support local farmers, but that was cut in 2010. The subsidies not only helped farmers pay for the feed, but also shipping costs, which can be almost four times the cost of the feed itself. (Unlike many states, Hawaii doesn’t have a feed mill.) Despite the challenges, Cortado believes in the promise of local eggs. “We need to learn how to be more self-sufficient. I want my children to know where their food is coming from, and to get the freshest and best quality.”
Her dedication has led to a new partnership with the public in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). For $22.25 a month, consumers can pick up 60 eggs at various locations on Oahu, as well as at the Maili Moa farm. Cortado says the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and hopes the CSA will be a way to help Island egg farms now and for generations to come.
What: Maili Moa Community Supported Agriculture “egg subscription.” The cost is $22.25 per month for 60 eggs of various colors and sizes.
Frequency: Monthly, but subscribers can pick up their eggs in various increments throughout the month.
Pick up: Maili Moa Farm, St. Clements Farmers’ Market, Makiki Christian Church Farmers’ Market, Hawaii Kai Farmers’ Market at Kaiser High School, and Haleiwa Farmers’ Market.
To order: Call Juanita Kawamoto, CSA coordinator, 330-6224, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
In the 1980s, 21 commercial egg farms in the Islands supplied 85 percent of our eggs. Now, we’re down to only four, and rely heavily on Mainland-import eggs.