Promoting Local Food Products

Now Indonesia is still importing wheat. Data from Indonesian Flour Producers Association (Aptindo) noted its nominal rose 6%. Wheat’s import in 2012 could reach 6.6 million tons. Whereas in 2011 “only” 6.2 million tons. It is ironic. Why? Because the Indonesian archipelago has various local food products.

Many types of crops are growing in the rural areas. There are uwi, ganyong, gembili, suwek, rondo sluku, punuk banteng, garut, kimpul, etc. All of these natural gifts can be the substitution of wheat flour. It was explained by Mr. Kemin on Sunday (27/5). He is the chairman of Mekarsari Self-Help Peasant Group at Gegunung Village, Sendangsari, Pengasih, Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta.

I visited there along with dozens of FOKAL’s (Forum for Family and Children who Love the Environment) members initiated by Ning Raswani. She is one of Nova Inspiring Women who won the 2012 Women and the Environment award. Since the early 2000s, this village has been known as the Center of Tubers and Local Food.

Remarkably, their products were marketed not only in Central Java and Yogyakarta. Moreover, they were also venturing into Jakarta, Bogor, Semarang, Surabaya and other big cities. Their product’s examples are garut chips, purple yam/sweet potatoes flour, and the crystals palm sugar. All are natural, healthy and quite cheap.

Mr. Kemin told their struggle to me. At first, the attempt to replant the bulbs in the yard was underestimated. But slowly many people come to support. It was including the local village government. To getting their attention was by reflecting on the beloved ancestors.

“Why did our grandparents’ teeth still intact? Even when they were die and being buried? The reason is because most of them were eating many healthy foods. In addition, the nature and the soil has not been polluted by the chemicals toxic as nowadays,” he said.

Suitable for Indonesian belly

Mutiara Nugraheni justified this simple thesis. The student of S-3 Program in Food Science Faculty at Agricultural Technology UGM Yogyakarta said that the tubers are more suitable to the belly of Indonesian people. While wheat is less appropriate. The reason is because it contained gluten. Indeed, this substance is needed by Western people who have dynamic life style. However, if the Indonesian eats too much wheat, it caused children to become hyperactive/autism.

Furthermore, this Lecturer of State University in Yogyakarta (UNY) explored the benefits of tubers in terms of physical health. For ulcer sufferers please take pati garut or the essence. Its flour can be processed into cakes and bread. For people with diabetes, they can replace the consumption of white rice with purple uwi.

Moreover, Cancer can be cured by eating kleci potatoes. Its Latin name is Coleus Tuberosus. This tubers should be boiled with its skin. According to research in the laboratory, the cuticle layer content of Antioxidants Ursolic Acid (UA) and Oleanolic Acid (OA) which in fact can tame the tumor. These important findings have been published in three major journals: The International Food Research Journal, African Journal of Food Science, and Journal of Medicinal Plants Research (2012).

Furthermore, in terms of treatment the tuber crops are also much easier. It is especially while compared to rice or wheat. Both of these plants are the water intake. While the tubers can be survive in the dry season. They experienced a period of dormancy or break for a while. However, once the rainy season comes, they can quickly grow back and ready to be harvested.

Agus Purwanto, one of the village youth also described an interesting fact. Most of the plants provide the tubers / roots, stems, and leaves for human being. Garut tubers can stop diarrhea because it is rich of fiber. Uniquely, the taro / talas stems are also beneficial. According to the Indian researchers who had been visited there, if we boiled and ate taro stems, that can lower the cholesterol levels in our body. Moreover, the new leaves of bamboo tree can be made into delicious chips also.

Indeed, if we cultivate our local potential creatively, this nation will not suffer from hunger. Let’s promote the consumption of tubers in our respective environments. It can fulfill our daily needs, as well as to preserve natural heritage for the future generation. Therefore, our grandchildren can still eat healthy foods and enjoy the nature beauty. (T. Nugroho Angkasa S.Pd, an English teacher at Angon Natural School, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)