In keeping with the roots of taro, pardon the pun, of using a sustainable food source, we also produce in a green kitchen.
We Use Minimal Water in the Pono Chip Company Kitchen as we peel and slice by hand and immediately cook the chips. Large companies use peeling and slicing machines that use copious amounts of water and then they wash the sliced raw chips prior to cooking in order to produce uniformity of color. That uniformity comes at the expense of the natural sugars in the taro which equals FLAVOR and why our chips range from light to dark.
We Recycle Our Used Oil. Instead of being dumped in our local landfill, it is picked up by Core Bio Fuels, a local company that converts it to biofuel! Biodiesel is a green fuel made from renewable resources that burns much cleaner than petroleum diesel.
And don’t get me started on plastic! Just Google plastic in our oceans; they are filled with single use throw away items. That is why We Use Recyclable Bags! It’s a little noisy, but every time you hear it crackle you’ll know you are helping the environment!
We Use NON-GMO Taro and
NON-GMO Coconut Oil
Our taro is grown on the East coast of Mexico in an area nestled between the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Pacific Ocean where it is known as coco malanga. Our “good for you” coconut oil is high in oleic acid and is produced in the Philippines. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the chips without imparting the taste of coconut.
Hawaiian Traditions in New Mexico
It’s a long story but a pretty good one! As an American-Hawaiian I always wanted to return to my birth place which is Honolulu on the island of Oahu. So I did, but found it to be quite different and overwhelming than when I left. I then flew to Kauai to meet friends who introduced me to a welcoming community whose roots go way back. After just 2 days there I knew this was where I was supposed to be. And I knew I was going to do something with food. I returned to my job in Santa Fe, gave a generous 4 months notice, sold everything and said my goodbyes after 25 years there.
What is Pono?
Pono, a Hawaiian-style approach to balance and well-being. The word is also often used to mean being honorable, correct or good. Loosely translated, a person with Pono is living in a state of balance and harmony with the world around them.
Back on the beautiful North Shore of Kauai
I hit the ground running and after experimenting with several different foods over the course of a year at local farmers markets, taro chips became one of the biggest sellers. This year long effort coincided with an amazing journey into Hawaiian culture and history. I had the good fortune to be introduced to the Waipa Foundation or just ‘Waipa’. It is a special organization that promotes sustainability and land preservation based on traditional Hawaiian teachings and the preservation of Hawaiian culture. This was where I learned that taro, or Kalo as it is called in Hawaiian has a larger than life significance to Hawaiians. It is considered the “root of life” to them and in ancient Hawaii, Kalo was at the economic, political and spiritual center of Hawaiian agriculture. And it is still a main staple in their diet as it is packed with vitamins, nutrients and minerals. 100 grams contains 17% vitamin B6, 15% vitamin E, 20% dietary fiber, 22% Manganese and 14% Potassium. Armed with this knowledge, I decided to make the chips my sole focus.
Initially sliced on a mandolin and cooked in a 6 quart pot I secured a space at the new community kitchen at Waipa graduated to a deli slicer and a 3 foot diameter wok and then another. And over time I needed even more cooking capacity which is what necessitated moving the whole operation to the mainland as the cost of living, renting a kitchen and having goods shipped in and out of Hawaii is incredibly expensive.
Back to Santa Fe
I started all over at another community kitchen, faced the same growth challenges, secured some investors (aka friends) and now have a beautiful kitchen of my very own where I make chips the Pono way!