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Kalo (taro) is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. While most are familiar with its traditional preparation (poi), there is much to be said about the significance of and role this starchy staple played in Hawaii history and the efforts being made to perpetuate the customs that were started by Hawaiian ancestors.
Poi, which is featured at many luau and local parties in the islands, is traditionally made by first baking the taro corm in an imu (underground oven). The plant is then peeled and scraped to ensure only the cleanest part of the kalo is being used. The plant is pounded on a board using pohaku kuiai (stone) and also thinned with water. If packaged or served while in its pounded but more lumpy, undiluted state, it is referred to as paiai.
Kalo does not require refrigeration and has many health benefits. It is hyper-allergenic, anti-bacterial, gluten-free and low in fat. It is in fact fed to many babies because of its nutrient density.
Taro is incorporated into a variety of dishes and treats including squid luau, mochi, taro chips, and decadent kulolo – a pudding-like dessert made from mashed taro corms and grated coconut meat or coconut milk. Simply stroll through a farmers’ market and try samples of taro-based dishes and desserts offered by local vendors.
Interested in learning more about this Hawaiian staple? Where better than on a taro farm! Be sure to plan a visit to these taro farms throughout Hawaii:
Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill and Taro Farm (Kauai) -
Makaweli Poi Mill (Kauai) -
Kaala Farm (Oahu) -
Kipahulu Ohana Taro Patch (Maui) -

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Pua Sterling
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