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Taro Field Day to Host Queen’s Challenge Taro Competition

Sust`aina ble Molokai and UH Cooperative Extension Service News Release

The Molokai Taro Variety Field Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Molokai Applied Research and Demonstration Farm, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The annual event has been organized by the UH Cooperative Extension Service since 1985, and is something that many residents look forward to. This year promises to be another outstanding event.

An important highlight of this year’s Taro Day is The Queen’s Challenge Taro Competition. This year, Molokai has been selected to host the competition, which is held annually at selected sites around the Pae `Aina in honor of Queen Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Na`ea Rooke, who recognized the value of the Hawaiian taro varieties and has written in detail on methods she used to produce large kalo (taro). At the Field Day, farmers are encouraged to participate in The Queens Challenge by submitting one of their Hawaiian taro varieties. Kalo will be judged for weight and quality (not overripe, uniformity, plant vigor). Kalo grown organically, as Queen Emma did, will receive an additional 2 point score. There will be a $500 prize for a kalo grown in lo`i and another $500 prize for kalo grown dryland.

Other scheduled activities include:
• You-harvest activity – harvest your favorite kalo and huli for planting in your gardens/farms.
• Presentations on kalo varieties and growing kalo
• Alu Like Kupuna Serenaders
• Kalo Variety Tasting – poi, table, and steam leaves
• Kulolo Variety Tasting by Castle Adolpho
• Kalo Cooking Contest, with prizes including a large steamer, knife set, and gift certificates to Hiki`ola.

Sust`aina ble Molokai (SM) is sponsoring the Kalo Cooking Contest as part of our Molokai Food Hub program, which aims to increase local production and local consumption, and provide a community-based distribution center. SM hopes to build on past efforts directed at increasing kalo in our residents’ diets, as well as other locally grown products.

William Akutagawa, the Executive Director of Na Pu`uwai, has been involved in various studies that have looked at the health impacts on native Hawaiians who ate a traditional Hawaiian diet (for a set period of time), which included a significant amount of kalo or poi. Akutagawa said that native Hawaiian study participants did experience improved health, such as lowered “bad cholesterol,” increased energy, and weight loss. However, most had a hard time staying on the diet, since they were not used to it. In addition, it can be expensive and difficult to obtain kalo/poi consistently on Molokai. Thus, he recommends that people looking to eat healthier start by incorporating more kalo (as well as other local, fresh food) into their meals; and there’s the added benefit of exercise if you grow your own.

So come to Taro Day on Saturday to get inspired to grow and eat more kalo!

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