Giving Fresh Papaya A Whirl

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - October 19, 2011
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Papayas are a rich source of antioxidant nutrients. Forest and Kim Starr photo

There are so many reasons to buy local produce, including the enjoyment of fresher, more nutritious food, preserving green space, reducing the use of fossil fuels for shipping and, of course, supporting our local farmers.

Matsuda-Fukuyama Farms on Oahu’s North Shore is just one of many successful farming operations in Hawaii’s “growing” agricultural industry. Business partners Clyde Fukuyama and Melvin Matsuda both are thirdgeneration family farmers who grew up as neighbors in the close-knit Kahuku community. With a handshake in 1985, the Fukuyama and Matsuda farms partnered to grow and market certain crops.

“After a period of time, because these ventures worked out so well, we thought, ‘why not just merge the whole operation together?’” recalls Mel. So, in 1995, the two friends formalized their partnership by incorporating their two farms. They also expanded their operations to Waialua under the company name Kahuku Farmers.

Since then, MatsudaFukuyama Farms and Kahuku Farmers have grown from about 80 acres to more than 300 acres, and the number of employees has grown from about eight in 1995 to 40 today. You can find their farm-fresh long eggplant, luau leaves, papayas and apple bananas in stores. They also grow vanilla, cacao and lilikoi for value-added products such as the farm-harvested vanilla bean ice cream and tangy lilikoi sorbet sold in Kahuku Farms Country Store.


The popular farmers markets are a big help in promoting locally grown produce, but you don’t have to go out of your way or wait for the next farmers market to “buy local” just look for the in-store signs at local grocery stores indicating local products.

Try this refreshing smoothie for an after-school snack or a great breakfast treat! Choose papayas that have reddish-orange or yellow skin and yield slightly to soft pressure from the fingers. Avoid papayas that are totally green or overly hard, as they have been picked too soon and most likely will not ripen properly. A few black or moldy spots on the surface will not affect the flavor, but pass up those that are bruised or overly soft. Papayas that are partially yellow should be left at room temperature where they will ripen in a few days. If you want to hasten ripening, place them in a paper bag with a banana.

Papayas are a rich source of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids, the B vitamins folate and pantothenic acid, the minerals potassium and magnesium, and fiber.


KAHUKU PAPAYA SMOOTHIE

* 2 cups seeded, peeled and sliced Kahuku papaya
* 1 Hawaiian apple banana, sliced
* 1 cup chilled pineapple juice
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 teaspoons freshsqueezed lime juice
* 4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth. Pour into two tall glasses and enjoy!

Makes two servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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