Cultural Travel by Volunteering in Kauai - Waipa Taro Cleaning
I say potato, you say patato.
I say tomato, you say tamato.
I say taro, whereas in Kauai, many will say kalo.
Regardless of how you say it, on your travels to Kauai, you will no doubt come across taro in one of its numerous forms whether eating poi at a luau or awing at the taro field vista on the North Shore just outside Hanalei. Taro or kalo is a root vegetable that grows in sub-tropical paddy fields. It has heart shaped leaves that can be eaten like kale or spinach, but it most well known for its root. Many explain taro simply as a dietary staple in the Hawaiian culture, similar to a sweet potato, but it’s role is on a grander scale; in fact, taro (kalo) is considered as an elder sibling to Hawaiians, showcasing the importance and interdependence of a’ina (land) & ohana (family).
With a fame of not meeting a starch that I didn’t like, I decided to learn more about taro, in particular how it was harvested, cooked, and cleaned to make both traditional Hawaiian dishes and other cultural variations. I stumbled upon an organization in Hanalei called Waipa, which is a non-for-profit, Native Hawaiian learning and community center on Kauai’s North Shore, which hosts many activities to teach of local lifestyle and customs, all in touch with the a’ina (land). One of Waipa’s activities in Poi Day, where a community of volunteers both local and not join together to clean cooked taro and process it into poi.
See full article and details of Poi Day on Ms Traveling Pants