PACIFIC ISLANDS TARO FESTIVAL

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WINDWARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE Kaneohe, Hawai‘i

"A TASTE OF TARO" AND CONFERENCE
AUGUST 11-12, 2000

NEWS RELEASE

The Taro Resource Center for Integrated Agriculture will hold a conference titled "Food, Health and Family in the New Millennium" from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday, August 11 at Windward Community College.

The conference is part of the Pacific Islands Taro Festival, which will be held the following day from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on campus.

The conference will feature experts in the fields of agriculture, aquaculture, health, food biotechnology, marketing, ecotourism and other related areas.

Keynote speaker will be University of Wisconsin rural sociologist Jack Kloppenburg, who will talk about food bioengineering and its economic, social and political implications. Kloppenburg is the author of the provocative book "First the Seed – The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology," and an advocate of food sheds, which encourages production and consumption of local foods as a way of protecting consumers and the environment. Kloppenburg is scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. on campus.

Other speakers include Hawaii’s own nutrition expert Dr. Terry Shintani, organic farming specialist Kimberly Clark, state agricultural statistician Don Martin, bee industry entrepreneur Eric vom Dorp, and taro manufacturer Brian Tottori, who will address issues affecting the taro industry and emerging marketing trends.

"The goal of the festival and conference is to promote growing and eating fresh, locally produced foods," said Mitsue Cook, festival founder and director of the Taro Resource Center, one of the festival’s major sponsors. "Hawai‘i is dependent on food from the Mainland and foreign countries, but we don’t know the manner in which it’s grown."

This year’s conference will address some of the issues dealing with food production and marketing, health and nutrition and alternative farming techniques. "We want to draw attention to the benefits of growing and buying fresh local foods to reduce our dependency on foods imports."

While traditionally the Pacific Island Taro Festival has focused on the cultural, spiritual and economic value of taro, this year’s organizers have expended it to include other local products.

"The purpose of the festival is to increase public awareness and appreciation of the cultural, economic and culinary roles of taro in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim," said Roy Fujimoto, director of WCC’s Office of Continuing Education, which is spearheading the event. "Also this year’s event seeks to introduce new agricultural local products, as well as link farmers with manufacturers."

To highlight the importance of taro in today’s cuisine, the Saturday, August 12 festival has as its theme "A Taste of Taro," and will showcase chefs from the outer islands and Oahu who will cook taro dishes and other culinary treats.

The festival will also feature cultural and cooking demonstrations, include poi pounding and imu cooking, ethnic food, arts and crafts, entertainment, Hawaiian chants, hula kahiko as well as other Pacific Island dances. It will also present a series of panels, encouraging audience participation, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Panelists will address topics related to agriculture, gardening, native plants, taro planting and ecotourism.

For more information on either event, call WCC Office of Continuing Education at (808) 235-7433 or the Taro Resource Center at (808) 235-7380.

CONTACT: Janine Tully Publicity Chair (808) 247-1796

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