Maui Eat Local Challenge 2023

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years that I’ve participated in the Maui Eat Local Challenge. I remember when we started there was no locally available olive oil, cultivated gourmet mushrooms, cashews, skyr, or black pepper. A few people on the fringe, willing to get uncomfortable and figure out new ways of eating. Now, there are bustling farmer’s markets, CSA’s, a plethora of new food products entering the market all the time, and the Maui Hub will even distribute all of these incredible products right to your doorstep should you wish. Positive, powerful change. At the same time, a decade later, we are still importing 85-90% of our food, and 80% of what we do grow here is shipped out of Hawai’i. It’s hard to imagine the dial shifting on this, but luckily we do move faster than geologic time – patience. In 2005 I spent one full year eating locally grown foods while teaching at the White Earth & Tribal Community College. I am a long term practitioner of eating local!

I shared details of my journey day by day, in more detail, on Instagram stories and Facebook…but here are some highlights. All photos are my own.

ulu tortilla (made with steamed breadfruit and beef tallow) with sweet potato, peppers and wild `opiuma (Pithecellobium dulce) blistered in 50:50 coconut oil:sunflower oil, salt, powdered garlic, roasted kukui (Aleurites moluccanus) with SALAD of wild purslane (Portulaca oleracea), cucumber, tomato, sunflower sprouts, mint, radicchio, sunflower oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
‘opiuma (Pithecellobium dulce) is increasing its range as things get hotter and dryer here in Hawai’i. Its white arils, the flesh surrounding the seeds, is a substantial and delicious vegetable. This year I boiled, and then froze them. I’ve done the wild food research for you! They thaw beautifully and were eaten roasted in the oven with oil and salt, as well as pan fried as shown in the first photo of this post.

Did you know coffee leaves made a delicious, nutritious and beautiful tea when brewed correctly? There is so much coffee (Coffea arabica) growing wild throughout the Hawaiian Islands, which only bears fruit/seed once per year, but leaves are available year round. Drink chilled, or hot.
Tomatoes, peppers, and parsley grown at Savage Farms, with chicken and a cashew sauce made using soaked cashews, macadamia nuts, garlic, and salt.
I foraged some of my beloved java plums (Syzygium cumini) and made juice from them, combined with gleaned tangerine, lime, sugarcane, starfruit from Savage Farms, and a new one for me…salt fermented rhubarb for that probiotic kick.
This egg drop soup got eaten on one of our first rainy days in Wailuku this season. After years of extended drought, and the fires that sucked the chi out of so much, it was healing on many levels. Delightfully simple, made with a very rich chicken broth, ginger, salt, sunflower oil, egg, and the tomato and spring onions from Savage Farms.
Zucchini noodles, pesto made with basil and wild amaranth (Amaranthus spinosus) from Savage Farms, macadamia nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper, goat cheese.
`āweoweo (Chenopodium oahuense) sauerkraut, chicken, onion, parsley, lemon from Savage Farms, avocado, salt and pepper, sauce (mac nut, cashew, onion, garlic). When I did a collab dinner with Chef Ed Kenney like 8 years ago he had the brilliant idea of doing a dish pairing `āweoweo the fish with `āweoweo the plant. I was unfamiliar with eating it, uncomfortable using something I hadn’t eaten and he graciously humored me by keeping it off our menu. I learned, and started including it in kraut’s. As a more rare endemic species I wouldn’t encourage foraging this one, but it is a fabulous plant to grow in our hot dry areas and is prolific at Savage Farms.
Kalo (also known as taro) stem dye, set with Java plum (Syzygium cumini) tannins. I dyed a white thrift store shirt, so that I could wear some local color as well. And, of course, I did my job running the Savage Farms Wellness Center where we always use local plants that I distill for artisinal aromatherapy and incense, along with flower and herbal medicines.
Tacos – ulu tortilla, chicken, lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes & culantro from Savage Farms, lime juice, raw onion, cashew cream.
Cacao, mamaki, ginger, rose petals from Savage Farms, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, wild fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare), vanilla, salt, honey, coconut milk.
Mahi mahi with egg, coconut flour made from leftover making of cream, cassava flour from Savage Farms, coconut oil, sunflower oil, garlic salt. Served with foraged wild amaranth (Amaranthus spinosus) and lemon from Savage Farms. Sauce made with cashews, mac nuts, onion, garlic, salt. I used coconut flour here in the breading, but also in other ways like in place of panko or breadcrumbs in meatballs as well.
Grated kalo (also known as taro) with fried onion, burdock, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper, sunflower oil, eggs.
Any fertility left in our soils is mostly due to the ancient farming practices of the Hawaiians – over 1,500 years building soil legacy, something all of us benefit from today. How we tend land now will be felt by future generations.
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