Concept: Food


Food in the Solomons usually is not preserved and is served with little seasoning. Most food is based on a staple of root vegetables such as taro, yam and, more recently, sweet potato, cassava and breadfruit, cooked with coconut milk and green leafy vegetables. Protein comes from eating birds, pigs, chickens and fish, but is often only consumed in large amounts at feasts. In the past, edible insects were another key source of protein, and opossums (also possum or cuscus) were also hunted. Cooking utilizes stone ovens and bamboo cylinders. In recent decades, rice and tinned fish have become a large part of the basic diet for most people, including those in rural areas.

In the past, the only place where food was normally stored for long periods was the Eastern Solomons, where food storage pits were used to guard against famine. Swamp taro, breadfruit, banana and sago puddings that were wrapped in banana leaves and buried in pits could be preserved for a period of years. The food was inspected regularly and the leaves replaced if necessary. Today, Makira people still prepare a 'six-month pudding' preserved in coconut oil, which ferments. Locals admire it but most outsiders find it difficult to eat. (NS no. 8, 1968; Kenilorea 2008, 191-192; Ross 1976, 1977; M. Tedder 1973; Tedder and Tedder 1974)

Published resources


  • Kenilorea, Peter, Tell It As It Is: Autobiography of Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Kenilorea, KBE, PC, Solomon Islands' First Prime Minister, Clive Moore, Centre for Asia-Pacific Area Studies, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 2008, xxxvi, 516 pp. pp. Details
  • Tedder, Margaret M., and Tedder, James L.O., Yams: A Description of their Cultivation on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific Commission, Noumea, 1974. Details

Book Sections

  • Ross, Harold M., 'Bush Fallow Farming, Diet and Nutrition: A Melanesian Example of Successful Adaptation', in E. Giles;J. Friedlaender (ed.), The Measure of Man: Methodologies in Biological Anthropology, Peabody Museum Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1976, pp. 550-615. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details

Journal Articles

  • Ross, Harold M., 'The Sweet Potato in the South-Eastern Solomons', Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 86, no. 4, 1977, pp. 521-530. Details
  • Tedder, Margaret M., 'Staple Diets in the British Solomon Islands', South Pacific Bulletin, vol. 23, no. 3, 1973, pp. 15-19. Details