This cookbook has been compiled from recipes used in the Pacific islands, for the purpose of promoting the use of local foods. The importance and value of local foods can be addressed from many different perspectives. It is our hope that this cookbook can play a role in maintaining and developing cultural strengths, economic self-sufficiency, and healthy populations in the region.
Local or ethnic foods, like language, are corner-stones of culture and identity. As the world becomes a global village many foods and recipes are shared and mixed between different places and groups. In many of the farthest reaches of the Pacific region, packaged foods have gone from highly prized commodities (canned beef) to everyday ingredients. Yet whether living at home, in Auckland, Los Angeles, or Tokyo; most islanders would identify their traditional staples and local dishes as an important part of any family gathering, holiday or ceremony.
The cultural values of food are not just related to eating familiar items, but also knowing where and how they were produced. Better yet is to have grown the produce, raised the livestock, and prepared the foods with members of your family and community. Although modern life has drawn many Pacific islanders from rural, agricultural work to cities and desk jobs, there is still a strong need for a connection to the land.
From an economic standpoint, producing at least a portion of one’s own food is a critical component of self-sufficiency for individuals and nations.
Farmers and small food processors provide local employment and keep the cash flow close to home. There are also factors of food security (a constant supply) and safety, knowing what goes into the production and processing of available foods.
Finally, local foods and traditional diets are not fads. They have evolved within the environment where they are found. Pacific islanders have maintained healthy lives in these places for thousands of years. However, contemporary lifestyles, with their new foods and work patterns have been accompanied by increases in diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and/or heart disease. There is a clear need to identify recipes and their nutrient analyses as a means to reverse this trend.