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New Food Truck Aims to Save Maui’s Ecosystem

August 21, 2017, 9:53 AM HST · Updated August 21, 9:55 AM
Nikki Schenfeld · 6 Comments
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Sunny Savage, wild foods activist and author of “Wild Food Plants of Hawai‘i,” will launch her mobile food truck, Savage Kitchen Maui, on Aug. 24, 2017.

Sunny Savage’s food truck will serve up wild, invasive plants which threaten Maui’s ecosystems. PC: Cadence Feeley

With nearly 80% of Hawai‘i’s endangered plants threatened by invasive plant species, Savage sees eating the invasives as a way to turn a liability into an asset.

The food truck will serve up wild, invasive plants which threaten Maui’s ecosystems. Savage says she hopes to educate customers on how to eat and enjoy the abundance of wild foods that grow on Maui, and is focusing on five different edible invasives.

“Wild foods are a gateway into connecting deeply with the land and with ourselves. In addition to serving up exceptionally nutritious and delicious gourmet wild foods, Savage Kitchen Maui is an outreach tool, where I can introduce people to these unique flavors and create awareness around haole koa, strawberry guava, Java plum, spiny amaranth and kahili ginger,” she said. “That will hopefully lead to more people harvesting these invasives for their own tables, while learning the importance of not spreading them further.”

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In 2001, the Hawai‘i legislature identified invasive species as the number one threat to Hawai‘i’s environment, economy, and to the health and wellness of Hawai‘i’s people.

Savage Kitchen Maui is working on an app that will assist in identifying, mapping, harvesting, and preparing the five highlighted edible invasives. “I want to empower people with a tool that will assist them in incorporating these wild edible invasives into their daily life. These plants are gatekeepers to sharing information about how to survive climate change, how to protect ourselves from disease, and how to heal.”

Dishes at the food truck will include Tempeh Kering made with wild haole koa seeds, Crispy Egg bowl with wild kahili ginger onion jam, and a savory pastry filled with wild spiny amaranth greens and Java plum chutney. Wild flavored kombucha and other drinks will be available as well.

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The food truck and mobile app was funded in part through community crowd-sourcing, where Savage raised over $30,000 to transform her vision into a reality.

The food truck will be open every Thursday and Friday to start and will be at different locations around Maui. Details on where to locate the food truck and its hours of operation can be found on Twitter @savagekitchenhi, the Savage Kitchen Maui Facebook page, and here.

The mobile app will launch later this fall in the Apple iTunes store and Android Google Play.

Savage has spent 20 years working with wild plants around the world and formerly hosted the television series “Hot on the Trail with Sunny Savage.” She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and Master of Science degree in Nutrition Education.

Nikki Schenfeld
Nikki joined the Maui Now team in 2016 as a writer/reporter. Originally from Chicago, she has had internships with CBS2 Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago where she had the opportunity to interview some of Chicago's best athletes. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Maui in 2013.

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