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Poi: Kalo

The Kanaka Maoli, a Hawaiian indigenous population, are intimately connected to the Kalo, or more commonly known as the taro plant, from which this poi is made. Their creation myth maintains that kalo grew from the first-born of Father Sky and Daughter Earth, and that the plant is the greatest life force of all foods. Early Polynesian settlers brought Kalo to Hawai'i where it quickly became a staple of the regional diet. To make poi, the whole tuber of the Kalo plant is cooked and mashed with water. Poi is often referred to as the “soul food” of Hawaii. Poi is consumed both freshly mashed and after days of fermentation.

Poi is nutritious as it contains fiber and vitamins C and B-1 as well as the minerals potassium, magnesium and iron. Medicinally, poi is ingested to settle the stomach and used topically mixed with ripe noni fruit as a poultice, which is applied to boils and infected sores. Poi is mostly homemade, and so the knowledge of this Hawaiian food is in danger of extinction.

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