Patient- Laurie Carlson- Slow Food!

Laurie Carlson and Dr. Cleveland

Our Hawaii community- Connected by Food

In Hawaii, we are a “melting pot” so to speak of cultures… Hawaiian, Chinese, Thai, American, Samoan…. Fusion of all sorts… what that means to me, is that there is FOOD.  Food of all ethnicities, lots of eateries, lots of places to pick up a quick bite to eat.   McDonalds, Taco Bell (my fave), and recently Chick Filet!   Eating is important to Hawaii’s people, and Healthy teeth make it, so Terrance Cleveland DDS is definitely on board.   But wait… eat what?   Getting to know our community opens up our thoughts, and our minds, enriches our lives with new perspectives.

Laurie Carlson is passionate about SLOW FOOD

I love to see Laurie at our Honolulu Dentist office. Today she shared a homemade jar of Pickled Ulu Hearts! At the very young stage, Ulu tastes like artichokes. I can’t wait to try this on my salad tonight! She is a volunteer leader at Slow Food Hawaii.   What the heck?  “Slow food’ as in the opposite of “fast food”?  That was my first reaction…. but it is way more than that….

We are losing the connection between the plate and the planet

Slow Food began as a small Italian association close to thirty years ago. A Grassroots response to the increasing industrialization of food and standardization of taste. Its founding father, Carlo Petrini, recognized that with the rise of fast food, thousands of food varieties and food traditions were disappearing, and that people were losing the connection between the plate and the planet.     People have responded to the growing movement, because they have become tired of buying the same things, eating the same foods and living the same lives.  Today the organization is active in 45 countries and has a worldwide membership of over 85,000.

Some foods are facing extinction

Ark of Taste is a program of Slow Food International and is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates.   So what does that mean to the people of Hawaii, who live in an abundance of food diversity?   Your Honolulu Dentist, is learning that there are local food varieties that we as a community are missing and losing.   Ulu is probably the tip of the iceberg, because most of us don’t know how to prepare or eat it.  I’ll admit, Ulu is a little intimidating to me.

Hawaiian Ulu is making a comeback?

Where did it come from?

Ulu is the traditional variety of breadfruit grown through the Hawai’i archipelago for centuries. It is one of the ‘canoe plants’ brought by early Polynesian settlers from the Society Islands to Hawai’i centuries ago.

How do I prepare it?

The traditional Hawai’ian methods for preparing breadfruit are to roast the fruit in a fire until the skin blackens and chars or cooking it in an imu (a deep, covered pit lined with fire heated rocks) and then peeling and eating it. The mature fruit was also peeled, steamed or boiled, then pounded into a version of poi called ‘ulu pa’i ai. This versatile fruit can be eaten at all stages of development. Hawai’ian ‘ulu has a dense, firm texture and a mild, subtle flavor at the firm, mature, starchy stage when it can be used much like a potato. At the immature stage, when small and green and cooked as a vegetable, it resembles artichoke hearts in flavor. When soft and ripe it is sweet and custardy and can be eaten raw or prepared into desserts and beverages.

A talk with Laurie and Dr. Cleveland

Terrance Cleveland DDS talked with Laurie about what the slow food mission means to her, and how she got involved:

Connection between health and what we eat.

“When I was a UH student, I began volunteering at our natural foods cooperative in Mo’ili’ili. At the same time, I took biochemistry, nutrition and human biology. So, even though Slow Foods wasn’t a concept at that time, it was pretty clear to me that there was a very important connection between health and what we eat.

Tasty foods have vanished.

Living on an island, we have the opportunity to eat amazing tropical, local foods. Back in those days, one could find not only apple bananas, but red Cubans, Chinese, Bluefield, plantains. As time passed, fewer and fewer choices were available. Biodiversity in our gardens and farms has declined. Tasty foods have vanished, replaced by ones that are more easily shipped and processed.

Food is culture.

Cultural traditions are another important Slow Food concept. These culinary traditions are a big part of what makes each culture unique and special. Small kid flavors take us back to when we first became interested and excited in food. It is important to nourish those connections and maintain traditional food preparation. It is our great inheritance as members of the human race, along with the seeds and crops that have been created by our ancestors.

At Slow Food, we are all volunteers.

Slow Food in Hawaii is a small volunteer run organization. We introduce people to island foods and how to use them as well as to biodiversity and taste education. There are many workshops and farm tours—everything from making lilikoi butter to wild pig butchery to honey mead tasting. Our signature event is a Banana Festival which will be held this October in Waimea Valley. Our goal is to get folks to know more about bananas—how to grow them, what types and flavors are available, plus a bit of history and lore.” – Laurie Carlson

Laurie is a valued member of our Dental Community!

It is an honor to have Laurie in our dental community, and be introduced to Slow Food O’ahu.  It’s a mindful way of eating, good for me, my health, and our aina.   I am looking forward to attending a workshop with my family.  I encourage you to visit Slow Food and learn more, perhaps join this worthwhile cause!. Until then, I will be more aware of what I eat, supporting sustainable agriculture, by supporting local foods, like ULU!

Slow food banner

Dr. Terrance Cleveland

Dr. Terrance Cleveland

Dr. Terrance Cleveland practices General Dentistry in Honolulu, Hawaii. Besides Dentistry, Dr. Cleveland loves to share stories of the special people and places that make Hawaii so amazing. If you have a story that needs to be told please contact us follow him on Instagram and on Facebook.

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