Renewing Asian-Derived Foods for Pacific Futures

Nancy Pollock

5Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Rice has become the number one imported foodstuff for many Pacific communities This is being challenged by revitalisation programmes of local foods as ‘Foods for the Future’. Most traditional Pacific Island foods, such as taro and breadfruit, were carried out of Asia some 1500 years ago to become established as major food resources on atolls of Micronesia and high islands across Polynesia. But these traditional foods have diminished in value and usage as rice has replaced them as the ‘fast food’ of status.

This globalising trend is being reversed by programmes to revitalise local foods that can sustain future generations on their home islands.  Projects to reestablsh breadfruit and taro are gaining ground in Marquesas and Hawaii, to diversity food resources for their futures. ‘Glocalization’ to sustain future food security includes local/traditional foods alongside imported rice (and wheat flour).  It renews ties to Asian pasts (of many root and tree crops) by reintegrating traditional foods with rice to give diversity of choice, as well as addressing concerns for health and the economy of Pacific communities. Pacific island communities’ links to Asia through their food ideology are being revitalized from the past to provide a sustainable future.


Nancy is a retired Anthropologist, after teaching and researching with Pacific societies for 40 years. My interests focus on Food Sustainability, particularly local foods in their ecological setting. I am currently collating information on New Zealand’s gastronomic history for a paper entitled The Omnivores’ dilemmas in New Zealand.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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