Rather like other minority foods cassava in Hawaii have been stigmatized by views from outside Hawaii. Efforts are underway to revive interest.
Story of a cassava producer from Hawaii
Poi is a traditional food from Hawaii made by pounding taro (Colocascia esculenta) – it is used like mashed potato in the States. Taro is grown in water. The average taro patch is a quarter of an acre. We try and stagger plant harvesting The first step is to get a good lo’i (wet land taro patch). One obstacle to production is apple snails which stunt the growth of taro. Ducks can be used as a control measure but these are time-consuming. Other methods of control are being looked into. The leaves of taro are used like spinach and the stems can be peeled and steamed like celery. The roots play a similar role to potatoes. The top of the root and base of shoots are used for replanting from one generation to the next.
Taro is processed into Poi in a certified kitchen. After placing the roots in a steam bath the outer skin is removed and cleaned up to remove any residual skin. The roots are scraped to remove any diseased tissue before being ground in a modified corn grinder. The ground root is turned into plastic bags and sold by the pound. It is an acquired taste – but this is what people in Hawaii grow up with and this is part of their culture. I am the fourth generation farmer – hopefully my son will be the next generation continuing the tradition.