PORT MORESBY - When we speak of ‘Forgotten Food’ we are also talking about ‘Forgotten People’ and ‘Forgotten Language’ because these are the keepers of traditional knowledge and culinary art.
This knowledge includes the food, the stones, the type of firewood, the leaves used to wrap and cover the food and the way the food is prepared and cut.
All these add to the delicate dimensions of the food to make up its full distinct flavour and its ‘signature’ as being from a particular area or even family.
Eighty percent of the world’s food is produced by peasant farmers (a term I don't like to use but which large agricultural organisations adopt).
This implies that 80% of the world’s seeds and agro-biodiversity are in these hands.
What we are faced with in this modern day are flavour and food extinction that align with linguistic and cultural extinction.
We came from a world filled with diversity and with each passing day and each passing elder, thousands of years of food consciousness is lost - and with that loss is the loss of food diversity.
Food diversity is needed for nutritional diversity and so, with each passing year, the food we eat becomes less diverse and less nutritious.
Our body needs a diverse range of nutrients, micronutrients and phytonutrients to flourish.
If we are not conscious about how we nourish our body then we lose sight of who we are as human beings. We become less and less connected to the food on our plates.
Money may be able to buy us many things but it cannot buy back the collective knowledge that is being lost.
It seems that all we care for today is the immediate satisfaction of our palates but, if we pause to reflect, refocus and remember, food has been central to much more than this.
Some foods were prepared only for certain ceremonial gatherings and, as we lose sight of culture, so too those food traditions wither and die; the ancestral pathways we walked before have become overgrown
But through projects like Pacific Island Food Revolution we can create a new pathway to revive and conserve our collective knowledge of flavours and foods.
We know what we have is special and unique.