Hawaii & Alaska
I Love Hawaii

The Most Delicious Way to Protect Hawaii’s Natural Beauty? Eat the Invasive Species

My spoon slides through an unidentifiable substance, unexpectedly similar to foie gras, as I glance over my menu to double-check the dish in front of me. “Eat Your Invasives,” it reads. It’s a kiawe flour paté — and it’s delicious..

I’m on Maui at the Grand Wailea's Humuhumunukunukuapua’a restaurant (named after a species of native fish — Humuhumu for short) where the Chef de Cuisine, Mike Lofaro, highlights invasive species on his menu. My current plate includes interlopers like kiawe (a type of mesquite, similar in shape to a green bean, but sweeter) and waiawi (also known as “strawberry guava,” a variety nicknamed for its sweet-tart flavor). Hawaiian culture is grounded in cultivating symbiotic relationships with the land — so why, I wonder, am I not eating poi?

What I didn’t know at the time: native plants such as taro, the main ingredient in poi, are increasingly threatened by an invasive species crisis across the Hawaiian Islands — which has some chefs rethinking their ingredients.

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