Had trouble with posting replies to the discussion of Kokua vs Down To Earth and thought it might be worthwhile staring a thread about the various options for healthy/natural/whole food markets.
I've always liked Kokua in principle because it is a cooperative - my aging boomer heritage speaking here - but both Kokua and DTE are nearby, so I could easily shop both. I choose not to shop DTE for reasons other than cost or food issues, so I can't compare prices directly. Kokua members get numerous discounts, and your membership fee is fully refundable if you quit or leave town.
DTE is bigger, and has other locations, so they benefit from economies of scale, as does Whole Foods. Kokua and Umeke are smaller stores and single sites, so are at a disadvantage there.
Kokua however does offer a pretty good selection of organic and local meats (Shinsato Farm pork, grass fed Big Island Beef, etc) and is now getting fresh fish from the Pier 38 fish auction every week. DTE carries no meats whatsoever.
Whole Foods has the biggest stores and widest selections, but I find it hard to get bargains their. On the other hand, their cheese selection is unmatched, and the butcher counter is excellent. You can get a single portion there which at times is a plus (I got one organic chicken breast the other day...just the amount I needed),
Have not been in Umeke lately, so wonder what plusses and minuses others may want to add for them, or for the markets already mentioned, and any I may have overlooked.