In Hawaiʻi, pronounced Hawaii, taro or kalo in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi/Hawaiian language, is a traditional Native Hawaiian cuisine staple. Some of the uses for taro include poi, table taro, taro chips, and lūʻau leaf. In Hawaiʻi, taro is farmed under either dry land or wetland conditions. Taro is usually grown in pond fields known as loʻi in Hawaiian. Cool, flowing water yields the best crop.
Important aspects of Hawaiian culture revolve around kalo cultivation and consumption. For example, the newer name for a traditional Hawaiian feast, lūʻau, comes from the kalo. Young kalo tops baked with coconut milk and chicken or octopus arms are frequently served at luaus. By ancient Hawaiian custom, fighting is not allowed when a bowl of poi is open. It is also considered disrespectful to fight in front of an elder and one should not raise the voice, speak angrily, or make rude comments or gestures. An open poi bowl is connected to this concept because Hāloa (Taro) is the name of the first-born son of the parents who begat the human race. Hawaiians identify strongly with kalo, so much so that the Hawaiian term for family, ʻohana, is derived from the word ʻohā, the shoot or sucker which grows from the kalo corm. As young shoots grow from the corm, people grow from their family.
Taro is similar to the potato, but much more nutritious and an excellent source of energy! Taro contains
Potassium, carbohydrates, vitamins C and E, magnesium, foliates, B vitamins and protein
Taro is a very gentle food – it is EXTREMELY digestible and hypoallergenic.
Poi is the Hawaiian diet staple that islanders swear is the absolute best food for babies.
Poi is the pounded root of taro, a sacred plant in Hawaii whose heart-shaped leaves were used in ancient Hawaiian sacrifices.
It looks like light purple, watery mashed potatoes, its flavor can be watered up or down depending on your baby’s tolerance for tangy, starchy flavors.
The root is high in calories, very easily digestible, an excellent source of calcium and iron, and — that critical factor for infants — hypoallergenic. While there haven’t been many recent studies on poi, many children in Hawaii are raised on it and the National Institute of Health has recognized that it just might be the perfect baby food.
“Documented evidence suggests that poi shows promise for use in infants with allergies or failure-to-thrive,” according to the paper “The Medicinal Uses of Poi,” by Amy C. Brown, Ph.D., R.D. and Ana Valiere, M.S.
Poi is also believed to be a great probiotic, which would help get your baby’s gastrointestinal tract on the right track, if you will.
While poi might be difficult to find at the local grocer (your best bet is ordering it fresh online from Hawaii), it delivers a unique one-two punch, allowing you to feed your baby something healthy while steering clear of the rice cereal rut.
After all, who wouldn’t want to start life with aloha by the spoonful?
Taro was consumed by the early Romans in much the same way the potato is today. They called this root vegetable colocasia. The Roman cookbook Apicius mentions several methods for preparing taro, including boiling, preparing with sauces, and cooking with meat or fowl. Running on poi in the Roman Army it was required to complete 24 Roman miles (35.544 km or 22.086 modern miles) in five summer hours (6 hours and 15 minutes) loaded with 20.5 kg (45.2 pounds).
Taro is native to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean and taken by the Hawaiian from Egypt to Hawaii.
Interesting to note Asia, average yields of taro is 12.6 tons/hectare, (11.500 pounds/ acres) cumbered with grain less the 3000 pounds per acres.