For future residents of ‘A‘ali‘i, there is a lot of excitement for the new flagship Whole Foods Market located on the ground floor of Ae‘o, next door. While Whole Foods is a world leader in natural and organic foods, locally, the flagship means more choices for homegrown, sustainable foods that we can conveniently integrate into our daily lives. Here are a few locally grown, fresh foods to add to your shopping list on your next trip to the market.
Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
You’ve probably heard the term “superfood.” This refers to foods that are densely packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Popular superfoods include acai berry, blueberries, quinoa and kale. But a local staple superfood that was introduced to Hawaii by Polynesian voyagers is the purple sweet potato, often called the Okinawan sweet potato, Hawaiian sweet potato or ‘uala. The Okinawan sweet potato is packed with fiber, potassium and antioxidants. It may also be one of the reasons why Okinawa has the highest life expectancy in the world.
A new wave of farming entrepreneurs are currently mixing technology, know-how and hard work to build a more sustainable Hawai‘i. From glacier lettuce to lū‘au leaf, local farms are producing a bounty of fresh, local greens. Whether grown at a traditional farm, an aquaponics farm or an aeroponic farm, these greens provide a healthy and sustainable alternative to packaged salads shipped more than 3,000 miles from home.
For over a thousand years, poi, made from kalo (taro), has been a staple of the Hawaiian diet. While poi consumption declined after western contact, in recent years, more and more kalo farmers have returned to the land, restoring ponds and ramping up production to meet an increasing demand. Kalo is actually full of health benefits: high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. Poi is also a probiotic with friendly bacteria for your stomach. Kalo and poi provide a locally grown, healthy, sustainable food that also connects Native Hawaiians back to their origins, their land and their roots.
For centuries, limu or edible seaweed, has been a part of the Hawaiian diet. Seaweed is also a big part of Asian diets in the form of nori and kombu. Limu is incredibly nutritious, packed with vitamin A, B-6, C and fiber. Plus, it’s a must on your order of fresh poke.
You don’t think of honey as being nutritious or made locally, but in fact it’s both. Fresh, unpasteurized, honey contains phytonutrients that have antibacterial and antiviral properties, often used to ease coughs and colds. And from Mānoa to Kamuela, local honey producers are harvesting pure, organic honey to soothe the people of Hawai‘i.
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