Hawaiian Agriculture

Hawaii is most known for its beautiful weather, perfect beaches, big wave surfing, and its all around beauty. One often overlooked element of Hawaii and its culture is the diverse cuisine and unique delicacies. Many different foods are grown, produced, and prepared throughout the islands, and are all important to the customs and way of life here in Hawaii. Locally grown crops have played an important part in Hawaii’s growth and economy for decades. Fields of pineapple, macadamia nuts, and coffee are seen on many of our North Shore and Circle Island Tours, and our Big Island Volcano Tour. A closer look at local food production: Pineapple – It is unknown when the pineapple was introduced into Hawaiian culture; however, large scale planting of the fruit began around 1850. James Dole established a plantation near Wahiawa on Oahu around 1900 and production escalated and eventually spread to other islands. Today, the remaining pineapple producers in Hawaii are Dole and Maui Land and Pineapple Company.
Coffee – First introduced to the islands through King Kamehameha’s Spanish Advisor in 1813, coffee remains a very big part of Hawaii’s exports. Unique soil and weather patterns combine to make Kona Coffee some of the most sought after coffee in the world. Hawaii is the sole U.S. provider of coffee in the world and most of the coffee comes from a 20 mile stretch of over 700 small coffee farms along the Kona coast of the Big Island on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa, though there are small quantities produced on the islands of Kauai and Maui. Taro – No other form of food may represent Hawaii more than the taro plant. Though it is grown in many tropical climates worldwide it is most widely used in Hawaii and early Hawaiians were known to consume large quantities of taro that had been ground into a paste known as Poi. When raw, the plant is inedible and considered toxic, but when cooked or steeped in water, the root is harmless after it has been cooked.
Macadamia Nuts – Introduced to Hawaii from Australia in 1882, the macadamia nut tree was originally raised because of its beauty. A very versatile nut in cooking, there are over 700 farms and 8 processing plants, mostly on Hawaii’s Big Island, that is responsible for 90% of the world’s supply. Used in many foods including candies, breads, coffee, spreads, and cooking oil, macadamia nuts contain a high level of good fats and have been found to reduce cholesterol. Sugarcane – Though it is not as big in Hawaiian agriculture as it once was, sugar continues to grow in Hawaii. As early as 1802, people on the island of Lanai were using stone rollers to crush the sweet juice from the sugarcane in 1834, the first sugar plantation went up on Kauai after King Kamehameha granted the use of 980 acres to Ladd & Company for growing and harvesting. The booming industry once employed 1 in 12 people and brought in about $150 million each year, but has since seen its prevalence fall as Hawaii has since concentrated its economic ventures elsewhere.

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