Summertime is here, and there’s nothing quite like enjoying that ultra sweet, juicy pineapple you get this time of year. We can’t get enough of it! Which is why our Summer menu has the Pineapple Express – either vegetarian or with salmon – as well as the Big Island Ham.
The names of both lunches are, unsurprisingly, references to the beautiful Hawai’ian islands. While the name “Pineapple Express” might be a bit better known as a tongue in cheek reference to the 2008 slapsitck buddy-comedy by the same name, the phrase actually originates from a meteorological phenomenon. If you’ve never heard of it before, a Pineapple Express event is when heavy, consistent rains (or snow) are driven via jet stream from the Hawai’ian islands, to the Pacific Coast – like a train of moisture, barreling into the coast.
The Big Island Ham on the other hand, references the more colloquial name for the island of Hawai’i; Big Island. Big Island is, as one might assume, named as such because it is the largest of the Hawai’ian islands. The nickname helps to avoid confusion between the individual island of Hawai’i, and the roughly 140 island archipelago chain of Hawai’i, but all eight of the major islands have their own nicknames too.
The reason both delicious, pineapple-y lunches reference Hawai’i because it’s almost impossible to think of pineapple without immediately thinking of Hawai’i – and with good reason. During Hawai’i’s pineapple production heyday, a whopping 80% of all of the pineapples grown in the world came from Hawai’i. These days however, that number has dropped to a bare fraction of that, at 2% of the world’s pineapple production.
The reason for the drastic change is simple, though unfortunately also extremely unethical. Cost of labor. Pineapple processing companies began realizing in the 1960s that by moving their pineapple farms and production plants from Hawaii to places like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan, they could get away with sweat shop labor prices, paying their new employees in the pineapple groves only 5-10% of what they were paying their workers in Hawai’i, and their factory workers even less at 1-2%. Due to the difficulties and cost of shipping fresh pineapple – fresh pineapple only lasts for about 2 days after being harvested, at most 5 with refrigeration – most companies prefer to go the less ethical canning route.
Here at Gourmet to Go, we only use fresh pineapple that we skin, core, and cut completely in house, providing our clients with the freshest, most ethical product we can.