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The Limu Eater, a book first published in 1978 by the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) to highlight the historical importance of limu in Hawaiʻi as well as one-of-a-kind, delicious recipes, is once again available to the public.

To celebrate the launch of The Limu Eater as well as the Year of the Limu and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s 50th anniversary, more than 150 people gathered at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Hoʻokupu Center at Kewalo Basin on October 13 to share limu stories, memories and delicious limu dishes, and honor the importance of limu to Hawaiʻi’s cultural identity and ecosystem health.

panel talking
Panel with Malia Heimuli, Aunty Pam Fujii, Uncle Wally Ito, Ryan Okano, and Celia Smith

In addition, experts from UH Mānoa and Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) presented cutting-edge research and ongoing efforts to conserve, restore, raise awareness and promote the sustainable regeneration of limu.

Darren Lerner, director of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant, said “The event celebrating the reprinting of this much-loved book was particularly meaningful as we not only celebrated the release of a publication first printed in 1978 by our program, but also the unfortunate passing of its author, Heather Fortner. While she was not able to join us in person as we had originally planned, her passion for limu and Hawaiʻi’s history and culture will live on in the pages of her book for many years to come.”

two women smiling by books

The reprint is the result of a year-long collaboration with KUA and its Limu Hui network, which is dedicated to restoring limu knowledge, practice and abundance, and capturing the knowledge of the elders (kūpuna) who gather and care for native Hawaiian limu around the islands.

Along with fish and poi, limu was once integral in the traditional Native Hawaiian diet and was used for food, medicine, religious ceremonies and by lapaʻau healing practitioners. Although urban development, overharvesting, climate change and other pressures have caused a decline in the availability of native limu—knowledge and practice still endure. The reprint of The Limu Eater honors the centuries-old cultural practices and will be part of the living, evolving and growing practice of limu hana in Hawaiʻi.

Kevin Chang, executive director of KUA, said “We are excited to partner with Hawaiʻi Sea Grant to see Heather Fortner’s The Limu Eater become publicly available again as part of a greater Year of the Limu celebration. This effort is a testimony to a generation past, in the 1970’s when limu was again at the top of mind and hearts as part of a Hawaiian civic and cultural renaissance. This effort, too, was sparked from within our Limu Hui by its member and former OHA Chair Colette Machado for whom this book was a favorite. It was her dream that it be republished for the community to access.”

–By Cindy Knapman

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