Oil Baron and Baroness
April 10, 2012 § 2 Comments
When Tim and I purchased our coffee farm four and a half years ago, we were obviously focused on the coffee for our income. Well . . . a couple of droughts, Pele’s vog, and a few nasty beetles later, we find ourselves thankful that we have 200 avocado trees on the property. In fact, Luana Farm is one of the largest Sharwill avocado producers on the Big Island. The first two years we sold 90% of the fruit to a wholesaler. Since then, we have moved most of our avocados through our local markets, small restaurants, and natural food stores. Now, it is time to take the next step: producing the first Hawaiian avocado oil.
Avocado oil is beautiful for the body whether consumed or absorbed by the skin. It has heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and is rich in vitamins, minerals, beta carotene, and omega 3s. The fruit contains no cholesterol, sodium, or gluten. Research is finding that eating avocados, and avocado oil, helps to reduce and remove plaque from our arteries. That is a lot of goodness in each bottle.
The products we make from the fruit provide a more consistent and profitable revenue stream than selling just the fresh avocados. We use avocado oil in most of Luana Naturals’ bath and body products, including herbal oils, exfoliating scrubs, lip balms, body butters, serums and hair conditioners. It takes time to build the brand and educate the public about the benefits of avocado oil and even more to produce the oil. With the business growing, we have found that we have outgrown our small hand-crank press. A few years ago, we went to the local natural food store looking for avocado oil and found that the oil had traveled all the way from South Africa. Why is this when on our way home, we found the roadside littered with Hawaiian avocados? Having the fruit on island, not using it, and then importing the product from Africa does not make sustainable sense.
Avocados are a large part of our local agriculture here on the island. We celebrate them every year in Kona with our Hawaii Avocado Festival. Unfortunately, the fruit has been a difficult product for farmers to sell. You see, we are not permitted to ship our avocados to the mainland thanks to early 20th century legislation. Yes, you can find avocados in mainland stores from Mexico and Central America, but not from the 50th state. Someday, I’ll post a rant about this – Stay tuned! This prohibition being in place means farmers need to look to other ways to utilize their crop. Value-added products allow small family farms to earn a living and stay in the business of farming. We’re looking forward to developing Luana Farm’s avocado oil. We can still sell our premium fruit at market and retail stores and the small or blemished fruit will be saved from the compost pile and be turned into a raw, emerald green oil. Did you know that avocado oil does not taste like the fruit? It has a citrusy flavor. It is delicious on salads and cooks beautifully due to its high heating point. The fruit is terrific to eat, wonderful to cook with, and fabulous as a body moisturizer. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As a sustainable coffee AND avocado farm, we want to make sure nothing goes to waste. We’ll start small and build from there. The goal: to produce a local, unique, and organic product that tastes and feels GREAT!