The traditional diet of American Samoa is based on locally available ingredients, including a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and staple crops. However, it's important to note that dietary habits have evolved over time due to influences from Western cultures and changes in lifestyle. Here is an overview of the diet in American Samoa:
Staple Foods: The traditional Samoan diet includes staple crops such as taro, breadfruit, yams, bananas, and sweet potatoes. These starchy foods form the foundation of many meals and are often accompanied by fish, coconut, or other protein sources.
Seafood: Being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, seafood plays a significant role in the diet. Fish, including tuna, mahi-mahi, and snapper, is commonly consumed. Other seafood options include shellfish, such as crabs, lobster, and octopus.
Meat and Poultry: While traditional Samoan cuisine relied primarily on seafood, modern diets in American Samoa often incorporate meat and poultry, such as chicken, pork, and beef. These proteins are typically prepared using local flavors and cooking techniques.
Coconut: Coconut is widely used in American Samoan cuisine, both as a cooking ingredient and as a flavor enhancer. Coconut cream and milk are commonly used in curries, soups, and sauces, adding richness and depth to dishes. Grated coconut is also used in various desserts and snacks.
Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential components of the diet. Locally grown produce such as bananas, papayas, mangoes, pineapples, taro leaves, breadfruit, and eggplants are commonly consumed. These provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Luau and Palusami: Luau is a traditional Samoan dish made from taro leaves and coconut cream, often cooked in an umu (underground oven). Palusami is a variation of luau where the taro leaves are wrapped around coconut cream and sometimes combined with onions and other seasonings. These dishes are commonly enjoyed during special occasions and family gatherings.
Rice and Noodles: Rice and noodles have become increasingly incorporated into the modern American Samoan diet. They are often served as side dishes or used as a base for stir-fries and other Asian-inspired dishes.
Fast Food and Processed Foods: With the influence of Western culture and increased availability of convenience foods, fast food and processed foods have become more prevalent in American Samoa. These foods, including hamburgers, fries, sodas, and packaged snacks, have contributed to changes in dietary patterns and an increased risk of non-communicable diseases.
Local Beverages: Traditional Samoan beverages include fresh coconut water, which is a refreshing and hydrating drink. Kava, a ceremonial drink made from the root of the kava plant, is also consumed during cultural events and social gatherings.
Dietary Changes: It's worth noting that in recent years, American Samoa has faced health challenges related to obesity and non-communicable diseases. Efforts have been made to promote healthier eating habits and encourage the consumption of locally sourced, nutritious foods.
Traditional Samoan foods included taro root, yams, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit, fish, turtle, and chicken. Even though pigs are raised, pork is reserved for ceremonial occasions