Chef Simon J. and his team are joining Slow Food & Yoga Festival, where focus is on
showcasing the local culture and the flavors of Indonesia. All the proceeds from Slow Food &
Yoga Festival will be supporting educational initiatives in Gili and Lombok to include a
zero-waste permaculture garden project to be set up at the local school as a way of fostering
long-term sustainability initiatives for the Gili Islands. Sustainability is a big theme of the festival
and the festival ground will have zero plastic or throwaway containers or packaging. But why is
it so important to use the local ingredients of Indonesia?
Eating local cuts back on pollution, energy consumption and promotes local farmers. We
need to modify our beliefs about what we should eat. We need to connect with the wonderful
bounty that is already grown here. Why are Bali’s health food shops importing ancient Macca
root powders from Peru, rice crackers from Bangladesh and dried papaya from Thailand? Rice
and papaya are already abundant in Bali. We don’t realize that together we have considerable
power as consumers. Many eateries today advertise the fact that they are MSG free because
customers demanded it. Now let’s just ask that they also sell locally grown ingredients!
Traditionally, the Balinese use coconut oil for cooking. Now most use palm oil or soybean oil,
which aren’t really responsible choices. We should all use coconut oil! The variety of rice served
is another important issue. We should be asking not for white rice but for nasi merah, nutritious
traditional red rice that is often grown without chemicals. If you prefer white rice, ask for beras
tahun, the traditional Balinese strain. Sugar should always be palm sugar, gula merah and not
white sugar, even if it’s raw. Healthy wild fern tips can be found on the menu of many warungs.
When you eat chicken, look for ayam kampung or free-range village chicken. Any commercial
chicken product has been fed hormones and antibiotic laced feed. Mind you, this happens
around the world, not just in Bali. Be willing to pay more. Traditional ingredients cost about
double the price and the restaurants willing to choose quality should be compensated.