He created CoconutInformation.com, a website containing just about everything there is to know about coconuts — including tantalizing recipes for ice cream, gravy, and “oyster shooters” made with the jelly-like “spoon meat” from young fruits as a substitute for shellfish. He also conducts donation-based workshops where participants learn about planting trees, selecting and safely opening fruits, and the benefits of incorporating this nutritious food source into their daily diets.
His eyes sparkle when he talks about his beloved coconuts. “If those of us who live on Maui wish to become food-sustainable, this is our MVP — most valuable plant,” he says. “Mature trees produce a rack of fruits every moon cycle, all year round, and can do this continually for up to a hundred years. With twenty grams of protein in a fully mature fruit, coconuts have always been viewed globally as a key to survival.”
Niu played a significant role in the lives of ancient Hawaiians — so much so that it was one of a relative handful of “canoe plants” early Polynesian settlers brought to the Islands. What makes niu particularly valuable is that every part of the plant is usable. In addition to consuming nourishing coconut meat and the hydrating liquid within the fruit, Hawaiians incorporated its fibers into a multitude of items such as clothing, baskets, mats, and cordage.