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Micro-chefs November 6th, 2022 by

Nederlandse versie hieronder

In this era when many societies have embraced fast food and convenient, ready-made meals, it was refreshing to watch a documentary on the Korean Air flight back home recently, showing how citizens, chefs and scientists across the globe are increasingly waking up to the importance of nurturing and promoting local food cultures.

Dustin Wessa, the presenter in the documentary, “The Chef of Time,” is an American chef who has been living in Korea for 15 years, specialising in fermented food and beverages, such as Makgeolli, a milky and lightly sparkling rice wine. In his opening statement, the friendly chef explains in fluent Korean that the most complex tastes are not created by people, but by millions of micro-organisms (yeasts, lacto-acid bacteria and moulds) which he playfully calls “micro-chefs”. If we want to use the help of this army of cooks, we need time and patience, which Wessa lists as key ingredients for the preparation of delicious food and beverages.

While showing nature’s beauty and picking up a handful of forest soil, Dustin Wessa illustrates the rich diversity of micro-organisms and explains that they are all around us: in the air, soil, on plants and every part of the planet. A Korean scientist explains in lay-man’s language that fermentation and decay are basically the same process whereby micro-organisms break down components in nature. But unlike decay, fermentation is of immediate benefit to people for food preservation and production.

About 4,000 years ago the first fermented breads were made in Egypt. Most likely natural yeasts flying around in the air had landed on wheat dough that was kept in the open air. From this moment on, yeasts would be part of the sourdough, causing the dough to rise.

While many societies across the world have independently developed fermentation techniques, it was not until the 19th century that people began to understand that micro-organisms were causing food and beverages to ferment or to spoil. (Helped by the discovery of the microscope, Louis Pasteur studied microbial fermentation and came to understand how heat killed bacteria. This led to the name ‘pasteurization’).

In many countries across the world, just one species of commercial yeast is used to make bread, beer and wine, namely Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Different strains of this single-celled fungus microorganism are mass multiplied in laboratories to serve different purposes. Micro-organisms in the food industry have become an expensive ingredient. Annually, Korea has imported for millions of dollars of yeast for use in its highly popular bakery and pastry industry.

Doing research on micro-organisms in nature is a complex matter as there are millions of species and countless interactions between them and their environment. Up to now, about 1,600 species have been identified which have economic importance in food preservation and preparation worldwide. A small fraction of the estimated 150,000 useful species.

When Korean scientists discovered a local yeast that could be used in bread making, they were quick to mass multiply and market it, saving the country millions of dollars.

The documentary does further justice to the importance of treasuring local microbial diversity by putting it all in a global perspective. When the entire world depends on just a few commercial species to prepare food, our food system would become highly vulnerable and prone to the vagaries of commercial and political interests.

To avoid making the same mistakes as with seeds of major food crops, which are in the hands of a few large corporations, we need to ensure that local micro-organisms remain a public good, protected from private capture. Only by doing so, we will be able to keep local food cultures alive.

Related blogs

Korean food culture

The baker farmers

A market to nurture local food culture

 

Micro-koks

In dit tijdperk waarin veel samenlevingen fastfood en gemakkelijke, kant-en-klare maaltijden hebben omarmd, was het verfrissend om op de vlucht van Korean Air naar huis onlangs een documentaire te zien die laat zien hoe burgers, chef-koks en wetenschappers over de hele wereld zich steeds meer bewust worden van het belang van het koesteren en bevorderen van lokale eetculturen.

Dustin Wessa, de presentator in de documentaire “The Chef of Time”, is een Amerikaanse kok die al 15 jaar in Korea woont en gespecialiseerd is in gefermenteerd voedsel en dranken, zoals Makgeolli, een melkachtige en licht mousserende rijstwijn. In zijn openingswoord legt de vriendelijke kok in vloeiend Koreaans uit dat de meest complexe smaken niet door mensen worden gecreëerd, maar door miljoenen micro-organismen (gisten, melkzuurbacteriën en schimmels) die hij speels “micro-koks” noemt. Als we de hulp van dit leger van koks willen gebruiken, hebben we tijd en geduld nodig, die Wessa noemt als hoofdingrediënten voor de bereiding van heerlijk eten en drinken.

Terwijl hij de schoonheid van de natuur laat zien en een handvol bosgrond oppakt, illustreert Dustin Wessa de rijke diversiteit aan micro-organismen en legt hij uit dat ze overal om ons heen zijn: in de lucht, in de bodem, op planten en op elk deel van de planeet. Een Koreaanse wetenschapper legt in lekentaal uit dat fermentatie en rotting eigenlijk hetzelfde proces is waarbij micro-organismen bestanddelen in de natuur afbreken. Maar in tegenstelling tot bederf is fermentatie van direct nut voor mensen voor het bewaren en produceren van voedsel.

Ongeveer 4000 jaar geleden werden in Egypte de eerste gegiste broden gemaakt. Waarschijnlijk waren in de lucht rondvliegende natuurlijke gisten terechtgekomen op tarwedeeg dat in de open lucht werd bewaard. Vanaf dat moment maakte gist deel uit van het zuurdesem, waardoor het deeg ging rijzen.

Hoewel veel samenlevingen over de hele wereld onafhankelijk van elkaar fermentatietechnieken hebben ontwikkeld, begon men pas in de 19e eeuw te begrijpen dat micro-organismen voedsel en dranken lieten gisten of bederven. (Geholpen door de ontdekking van de microscoop bestudeerde Louis Pasteur microbiële fermentatie en kwam hij erachter hoe hitte bacteriën doodde. Dit leidde tot de naam “pasteurisatie”).

In veel landen in de wereld wordt slechts één soort commerciële gist (gebruikt om brood, bier en wijn te maken, namelijk Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Micro-organismen in de voedingsindustrie zijn een duur ingrediënt geworden. Korea importeert jaarlijks voor miljoenen dollars aan gist voor gebruik in zijn zeer populaire bakkerij- en banketindustrie.

Onderzoek naar micro-organismen in de natuur is een complexe aangelegenheid, aangezien er miljoenen soorten zijn en talloze interacties tussen hen en hun omgeving. Tot nu toe zijn er ongeveer 1600 soorten geïdentificeerd die wereldwijd van economisch belang zijn voor het bewaren en bereiden van voedsel. Een kleine fractie van de naar schatting 150.000 nuttige soorten.

Toen Koreaanse wetenschappers een lokale gistsoort ontdekten die kon worden gebruikt voor het maken van brood, waren ze er snel bij om deze massaal te vermenigvuldigen en op de markt te brengen, waardoor het land miljoenen dollars bespaarde.

De documentaire doet verder recht aan het belang van het koesteren van lokale microbiële diversiteit door alles in een mondiaal perspectief te plaatsen. Wanneer de hele wereld afhankelijk is van slechts een paar commerciële soorten om voedsel te bereiden, wordt ons voedselsysteem zeer kwetsbaar en vatbaar voor de grillen van commerciële en politieke belangen.

Om niet dezelfde fouten te maken als met zaden van grote voedselgewassen, die in handen zijn van een paar grote bedrijven, moeten we ervoor zorgen dat lokale micro-organismen een publiek goed blijven, beschermd tegen private inbezitneming. Alleen zo kunnen we lokale voedselculturen in leven houden.

Related blogs

Korean food culture

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Recovering from the quinoa boom October 30th, 2022 by

Vea la versión en español a continuación

In southwestern Bolivia, a whole ecosystem has been nearly destroyed, to export quinoa, but some people are trying to save it.

Bolivia’s southern Altiplano is a harsh place to live. Although it is in the tropical latitudes it is so high, over 3800 meters, that it often freezes. Its climax forest, the t’ular, is only a meter tall, made up of native shrubs, grasses and cactuses.

For centuries on the southern Altiplano, farmers grew quinoa, an annual plant with edible seeds, in the shelter of little hills. No other crop would grow in this high country. People herded llamas on the more exposed plains of the Altiplano. The farmers would take quinoa in packs, carried by llamas, to other parts of Bolivia to trade for maize, fruit and chuño (traditional freeze-dried potatoes) as well as wool, salt and jerky.

In about 2010 quinoa became a fad food, and export prices soared. Bolivian plant breeder, Alejandro Bonifacio, who is from the Altiplano, estimates that 80% of the t’ular was plowed under to grow quinoa from 2010 to 2014.This was the first time that farmers cleared the dwarf forest growing on the open plains.

After the brief quinoa boom ended, in some places, only 30% of the lands cleared on the t’ular were still being farmed. The rest had simply been turned into large patches of white sand. The native plants did not grow back, probably because of drought and wind linked to climate change.

At the start of the quinoa boom, Dr. Bonifacio and colleagues at Proinpa, a research agency, realized the severity of the destruction of the native ecosystem, and began to develop a system of regenerative agriculture.

In an early experience, they gathered 20 gunny bags of the seed heads of different species of t’ulas, the native shrubs and grasses. They scattered the seeds onto the sandy soil of abandoned fields. Out of several million seeds, only a dozen germinated and only four survived. After their first unsuccessful experience with direct seeding, the researchers and their students learned to grow seeds of native plants in two nurseries on the Altiplano, and then transplant them.

So much native vegetation has been lost that it cannot all be reforested, so researchers worked with farmers in local communities to experiment with live barriers. These were two or three lines of t’ula transplanted from the nurseries to create living barriers three meters wide. The live barriers could be planted as borders around the fields, or as strips within the large ones, spaced 30 to 45 meters apart. This helped to slow down soil erosion caused by wind, so farmers could grow quinoa (still planted, but in smaller quantities, to eat at home and for the national market, after the end of the export boom). Growing native shrubs as live barriers also gave farmers an incentive to care for these native plants.

By 2022, nearly 8000 meters of live barriers of t’ula have been planted, and are being protected by local farmers. The older plants are maturing, thriving and bearing seed. Some local governments and residents have started to drive to Proinpa, to request seedlings to plant, hinting at a renewed interest in these native plants.

The next step in creating a new regenerative agriculture was to introduce a rotation crop into the quinoa system. But on the southern Altiplano, no other crop has been grown, besides quinoa (and a semi-wild relative, qañawa). In this climate, it was impossible even to grow potatoes and other native roots and tubers.

NGOs suggested that farmers rotate quinoa with a legume crop, like peas or broad beans, but these plants died every time.

Bonifacio and colleagues realized that a new legume crop would be required, but that it would have to be a wild, native plant. They began experimenting with native lupines. The domesticated lupine, a legume, produces seeds in pods which remain closed even after the plant matures. When ancient farmers domesticated the lupine, they selected for pods that stayed closed, so the grains would not be lost in the field. But the pods of wild legumes shatter, scattering their seeds on the ground.

Various methods were tried to recover the wild lupine seed, including sifting it out of the sand. Researchers eventually learned that the seed was viable before it was completely dry, before the pod burst. After the seed dried, it went into a four-year dormancy.

In early trials with farmers, the wild lupines have done well as a quinoa intercrop. Llamas will eat them, and the legumes improve the soil. When the quinoa is harvested in March, April and May, the lupine remains as a cover crop, reaching maturity the following year, and protecting the soil.

The quinoa boom was a tragedy. A unique ecosystem was nearly wiped out in four years. The market can provide perverse incentives to destroy a landscape. The research with native windbreaks and cover crops is also accompanied by studies of local cactus and by breeding varieties of quinoa that are well-adapted to the southern Altiplano. This promises to be the basis of a regenerative agriculture, one that respects the local plants, including the animals that eat them, such as the domesticated llama and the wild vicuña, while also providing a livelihood for native people.

Further reading

Bonifacio, Alejandro, Genaro Aroni, Milton Villca & Jeffery W. Bentley 2022 Recovering from quinoa: regenerative agricultural research in Bolivia. Journal of Crop Improvement, DOI: 10.1080/15427528.2022.2135155

Previous Agro-Insight blogs

Awakening the seeds

Wind erosion and the great quinoa disaster

Slow recovery

Related videos

Living windbreaks to protect the soil

The wasp that protects our crops

Acknowledgements

Dr. Alejandro Bonifacio works for the Proinpa Foundation. This work was made possible with the kind support of the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) of the McKnight Foundation.

RECUPERÁNDOSE DEL BOOM DE LA QUINUA

Por Jeff Bentley, 30 de octubre del 2022

En el suroeste de Bolivia, todo un ecosistema casi se ha destruido para exportar quinua, pero algunas personas intentan salvarlo.

Es difícil vivir en el Altiplano sur de Bolivia. Aunque está en latitudes tropicales, está tan alto, a más de 3.800 metros, que a menudo se congela. Su bosque clímax, el t’ular, sólo tiene un metro de altura, formado por arbustos, hierbas y cactus nativos.

Durante siglos, en el Altiplano sur, los agricultores cultivaron quinua (una planta de ciclo anual y tallo herbáceo) con semillas comestibles, al abrigo de las pequeñas colinas. Ningún otro cultivo crecía en esta zona alta. En las llanuras más expuestas del Altiplano, la gente arreaba llamas. Los campesinos llevaban la quinua cargados por las llamas, a otras partes de Bolivia para intercambiarla por maíz, frutas, chuño, lana, sal, y charqui.

Hacia 2010, la quinua se convirtió en un alimento de moda y los precios de exportación se dispararon. El fitomejorador boliviano Alejandro Bonifacio, originario del Altiplano, calcula que entre 2010 y 2014 se aró el 80% del t’ular para cultivar quinua.

Tras el breve auge de la quinua, en algunas zonas solo el 30% de las tierras desmontadas en el t’ular seguían siendo cultivadas. El resto simplemente se había convertido en grandes manchas de arena blanca. Las plantas nativas no volvieron a crecer, probablemente por la sequía y el viento atribuible al cambio climático).

Al comienzo del boom de la quinua, el Dr. Bonifacio y sus colegas de Proinpa, una agencia de investigación, se dieron cuenta de la gravedad de la destrucción del ecosistema nativo, y comenzaron a desarrollar un sistema de agricultura regenerativa.

En una de las primeras experiencias, reunieron 20 gangochos conteniendo frutos con las diminutas semillas de diferentes especies de t’ulas, los arbustos nativos y pastos. Esparcieron las semillas en el arenoso suelo de los campos abandonados. De varios millones de semillas, sólo germinaron una decena que al final quedaron cuatro plantas sobrevivientes. Tras su primera experiencia frustrante con la siembra directa, los investigadores y sus estudiantes aprendieron a cultivar semillas de plantas nativas en dos viveros del Altiplano con fines de trasplantarlos.

Se ha perdido tanta vegetación nativa que no se puede reforestarla toda, así que los investigadores trabajaron con los agricultores de las comunidades locales para experimentar con barreras vivas. Se trataba de dos o tres líneas de t’ula trasplantadas desde los viveros para crear barreras vivas de tres metros de ancho. Las barreras vivas podían plantarse como bordes alrededor de las parcelas, o como franjas dentro de los campos grandes, con una separación de 30 a 45 metros. Esto ayudó a frenar la erosión del suelo causada por el viento, para que los agricultores pudieran cultivar quinua (que aún se siembra, pero en menor cantidad, para comer en casa y para el mercado nacional, tras el fin del boom de las exportaciones). El cultivo de arbustos nativos como barreras vivas también incentivó a los agricultores a cuidar estas plantas nativas.

En 2022, se han plantado casi 8.000 metros de barreras vivas de t’ula, que se protegen por los agricultores locales. Las plantas más antiguas están madurando, prosperando y formando semilla. Algunos residentes y gobiernos locales han comenzado a llegar a Proinpa, para pedir plantines para plantar, lo que indica un renovado interés en estas plantas nativas.

El siguiente paso en la creación de una nueva agricultura regenerativa era introducir un cultivo de rotación en el sistema de la quinua. Pero en el Altiplano sur no se ha cultivado ningún otro cultivo, aparte de la quinua (y un pariente semi-silvestre, la qañawa). En este clima, era imposible incluso cultivar papas y otras raíces y tubérculos nativos.

Las ONGs sugirieron a los agricultores que rotaran la quinoa con un cultivo de leguminosas, como arvejas o habas, pero estas plantas morían siempre.

Bonifacio y sus colegas se dieron cuenta de que sería necesario tener un nuevo cultivo de leguminosas, pero que tendría que ser una planta silvestre y nativa. Empezaron a experimentar con lupinos nativos. El lupino domesticado es el tarwi, una leguminosa, produce semillas en vainas que permanecen cerradas incluso después de que la planta madure. Cuando los antiguos agricultores domesticaron el lupino, seleccionaron las vainas que permanecían cerradas, para que los granos no se perdieran en el campo. Pero las vainas de las leguminosas silvestres se rompen, esparciendo sus semillas por el suelo.

Se intentaron varios métodos para recuperar la semilla de lupinos silvestre, incluido tamizando la arena. Los investigadores descubrieron que la semilla era viable antes de estar completamente seca, antes de que la vaina reventara. Una vez seca, la semilla entraba en un periodo de dormancia de cuatro años.

En los primeros ensayos con agricultores, los lupinos silvestres han funcionado bien como cultivo intermedio de la quinoa. Las llamas los comen y las leguminosas mejoran el suelo. Cuando se cosecha la quinoa en marzo, abril y mayo, el lupino permanece como cultivo de cobertura, alcanzando la madurez al año siguiente y protegiendo el suelo.

El boom de la quinoa fue una tragedia. Un ecosistema único estuvo a punto de desaparecer en cuatro años. El mercado puede ofrecer incentivos perversos para destruir un paisaje. La investigación con barreras vivas nativas y cultivos de cobertura también va acompañada de estudios de cactus locales y del fitomejoramiento de variedades de quinua bien adaptadas al Altiplano sur. Esto promete ser la base de una agricultura regenerativa, que respete las plantas locales, incluidos los animales que se alimentan de ellas, como la llama domesticada y la vicuña silvestre, y al mismo tiempo proporcionando un medio de vida a la gente nativa.

Lectura adicional

Bonifacio, Alejandro, Genaro Aroni, Milton Villca & Jeffery W. Bentley 2022 Recovering from quinoa: regenerative agricultural research in Bolivia. Journal of Crop Improvement, DOI: 10.1080/15427528.2022.2135155

Previamente en el blog de Agro-Insight

Despertando las semillas

Destruyendo el altiplano sur con quinua

Recuperación lenta

Videos sobre el tema

Barreras vivas para proteger el suelo

La avispa que protege nuestros cultivos

Agradecimiento

El Dr. Alejandro Bonifacio trabaja para la Fundación Proinpa. Este trabajo se hizo con el generoso apoyo del Programa Colaborativo de Investigación de Cultivos (CCRP) de la Fundación McKnight.

Korean food culture October 23rd, 2022 by

Nederlandse versie hieronder

In our weekly blogs, Jeff and I often write about food: how it is produced, processed or marketed. During a recent visit with my wife Marcella to South Korea, where I was invited to give a talk at the 5th Organic Asia Congress, we discover little by little what makes Korean food culture stand out from other places we have visited over the years.

Many of the local dishes contain a dozen or so little bowls and plates, each with a different salted and fermented vegetable, called kimchi. These are commonly combined with a bowl of sticky rice and a bowl of tasty seaweed soup. A healthy food, kimchi is rich in vitamins A, C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants, as well as lactic acid bacteria which are good for your guts.

Traditionally, kimchi was prepared in large earthenware pots at the onset of autumn to ensure there was enough healthy food during winter and spring. To avoid the pots getting damaged by severe frosts, the pots were buried in the soil, which was said to give a nice additional flavour to the vegetables.

Making kimchi used to be an annual, communal activity. Neighbouring housewives would rotate their schedules to help each other prepare large quantities. Each household had its own recipes, while the taste is also influenced by the region. Nowadays, as most people live in cities, few still prepare their own kimchi. Bought at the market or in shops, people now have a separate fridge to store different types of kimchi in closed glass jars.

During the first week of our stay, our host Jennifer Chang, explains about the origin of another dish, called bibimbap. To eat this dish, you need to transfer your rice into a large bowl with a mix of fermented and steamed vegetables, and stir it until all the ingredients are properly mixed. While in the past, this was a way to make use of all leftover food, without letting anything go to waste, it now has become like a national dish.

One of the interesting things to do when traveling is to visit a fresh market, as this often gives you a quick glimpse into local food culture. What struck us as unique when visiting Seongdong market in Gyeongju City was the shear amount of micro-enterprises processing food.

Soon after entering the covered, daily market, we are drawn like moths to a light to the smell of roasted sesame seed. When we reach the shop, we see that a lady in her fifties is operating various processing units. In one, sesame is roasted over a gas fire while it is slowly, mechanically stirred. Next to it, a small machine extracts sesame oil, another popular ingredient of many of the local dishes. Making optimal use of the small space in her shop, the woman uses yet another machine to process chilli into flakes. It is a mild variety of chilli that is a steady ingredient to make kimchi.

Another shop has small, stainless steel food processing equipment to make pastries, while yet another one is all set up to extract and pasteurize juices.

While raw fish is a common feature in most fresh markets across Asia, it was nice to see how a few entrepreneurial women were adding value to sea food. To cater for the demanding city dwellers, appealing plates were being prepared on the spot with a diversity of shrimps, mussels, cockles, squid and fish. Covered with a transparent foil, these artistically arranged dishes display all their goodies: a real pleasure to the eye.

One place in the market was devoted to serve customers prepared food. When we finally decide from which buffet to fill our plates, it struck me how local people carefully arranged the various ingredients, either by colour or some other way. Everybody’s plate looked really appealing, almost like a painting, where each colour is added with careful thought.

When local food culture is deeply engrained in a society, this shows in many different ways. Yet cultural erosion is also taking place in Korea, due to the encroaching fast-food culture and rise of supermarkets. This was one reason why the local authorities of Gyeongju City decided to renovate the fresh market and make it more attractive to the local community and foreign visitors. Even strong food cultures need the occasional support from local authorities and continued appreciation by the new generation in order to survive.

Related blogs

A market to nurture local food culture

When local authorities support agroecology

Marketing as a performance

 

Koreaanse eetcultuur

In onze wekelijkse blogs schrijven Jeff en ik vaak over voedsel: hoe het wordt geproduceerd, verwerkt of op de markt wordt gebracht. Tijdens een recent bezoek met mijn vrouw Marcella aan Zuid-Korea, waar ik was uitgenodigd om een ​​lezing te geven op een congres rond biologische landbouw in Azië, ontdekken we beetje bij beetje wat de Koreaanse eetcultuur onderscheidt van andere plaatsen die we in de loop der jaren hebben bezocht.

Veel van de lokale gerechten bevatten een tiental kommetjes en schaaltjes, elk met een andere gezouten en gefermenteerde groente, kimchi genaamd. Deze worden vaak gecombineerd met een kom plakkerige rijst en een kom lekkere zeewiersoep. Kimchi is een gezond voedingsmiddel en is rijk aan vitamine A, C, bètacaroteen en andere antioxidanten, evenals melkzuurbacteriën die goed zijn voor je darmen.

Traditioneel werd kimchi aan het begin van de herfst in grote aardewerken potten bereid om ervoor te zorgen dat er in de winter en de lente voldoende gezond voedsel was. Om te voorkomen dat de potten beschadigd raakten door strenge vorst, werden de potten in de grond begraven, wat een mooie extra smaak aan de groenten zou geven.

Vroeger was het maken van kimchi een jaarlijkse, gemeenschappelijke activiteit. Naburige huisvrouwen zouden hun schema’s roteren om elkaar te helpen grote hoeveelheden klaar te maken. Elk huishouden had zijn eigen recepten, terwijl de smaak ook beïnvloed wordt door de regio. Omdat de meeste mensen tegenwoordig in steden wonen, bereiden maar weinig mensen nog hun eigen kimchi. Gekocht op de markt of in winkels, bewaren mensen nu verschillende soorten kimchi in gesloten glazen potten in een aparte koelkast.

Tijdens de eerste week van ons verblijf vertelt onze gastheer Jennifer Chang over de oorsprong van een ander gerecht, bibimbap genaamd. Om dit gerecht te eten, moet je je rijst en saus in een grote kom doen met een mix van gefermenteerde en gestoomde groenten, en roeren tot alle ingrediënten goed gemengd zijn. Was dit vroeger een manier om alle etensresten te benutten, zonder iets verloren te laten gaan, is het nu een nationaal gerecht geworden.

Een van de interessante dingen om te doen tijdens het reizen is het bezoeken van een versmarkt, omdat dit je vaak een snelle blik geeft in de lokale eetcultuur. Wat ons als uniek opviel toen we de Seongdong-markt in Gyeongju-stad bezochten, was het groot aantal micro-ondernemingen die voedsel verwerken.

Al snel na het betreden van de overdekte, dagelijkse markt, worden we als motten naar een licht aangetrokken door de geur van geroosterd sesamzaad. Als we de winkel bereiken, zien we dat een dame van in de vijftig verschillende verwerkingseenheden bedient. In een daarvan wordt sesam geroosterd boven een gasvuur terwijl het langzaam, mechanisch wordt geroerd. Daarnaast extraheert een kleine machine sesamolie, een ander populair ingrediënt van veel van de lokale gerechten. De vrouw maakt optimaal gebruik van de kleine ruimte in haar winkel en gebruikt nog een andere machine om chilipeper tot vlokken te verwerken. Het is een milde chili-variëteit die een vast ingrediënt is om kimchi te maken.

Een andere winkel heeft kleine roestvrijstalen voedselverwerkingsapparatuur om gebak te maken, terwijl nog een andere helemaal is ingericht om sappen te extraheren en te pasteuriseren.

Hoewel rauwe vis een veelvoorkomend kenmerk is in de meeste versmarkten in Azië, was het leuk om te zien hoe een aantal ondernemende vrouwen voor de veeleisende stedelingen ter plekke aantrekkelijke borden bereiden met een diversiteit aan garnalen, mosselen, kokkels, inktvis en vis. Bedekt met een transparante folie, tonen deze artistiek opgestelde schalen al hun lekkers: een lust voor het oog.

Eén plaats op de markt was bestemd voor het serveren van bereide maaltijden aan klanten. Toen we eindelijk besloten van welk buffet we onze borden zouden vullen, viel het me op hoe de lokale bevolking de verschillende ingrediënten zorgvuldig, op kleur of op een andere manier, rangschikte. Het bord van iedereen zag er heel aantrekkelijk uit, bijna als een schilderij, waarbij elke kleur zorgvuldig is toegevoegd.

Wanneer de lokale eetcultuur diep geworteld is in een samenleving, blijkt dit op veel verschillende manieren. Maar ook in Korea vindt culturele erosie plaats door de oprukkende fastfoodcultuur en de opkomst van supermarkten. Dit was een van de redenen waarom de lokale autoriteiten van de stad Gyeongju besloten om de versmarkt te renoveren en aantrekkelijker te maken voor de lokale gemeenschap en buitenlandse bezoekers. Zelfs sterke eetculturen hebben af ​​en toe steun van de lokale autoriteiten en blijvende waardering van de nieuwe generatie nodig om te overleven.

Gerelateerde blogs

A market to nurture local food culture

When local authorities support agroecology

Marketing as a performance

Gabe Brown, agroecology on a commercial scale October 16th, 2022 by

Gabe Brown describes himself as a city boy from Bismarck, North Dakota, whose only dream was to be a farmer. As a young couple, Gabe and his wife, Shelly, bought her parent’s farm. Gabe followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps, with regular plowing and lots of chemical fertilizer. For four years in a row the family lost their crop to the weather: hail, and drought and once all their calves died in a blizzard. Gabe and Shelly both had to take full-time jobs to pay for the farm that they worked on weekends. After four years of failure, by 1998, Gabe planted his corn with very little chemical fertilizer, simply because he was out of money.

Gabe was surprised at how high the yields were. In the four years of crop failure, the soil had been improved by not being plowed, by having the covering of plants remain on the surface of the earth.

An avid learner and experimenter, Gabe attended talks, listened to other innovative farmers and to agricultural scientists. He tried planting mixes of many different plants as cover crops, always combining legumes and grasses. He learned to rotate the cattle in pastures, using electric fences.

Gabe’s cattle graze for a few days or sometimes for just a few hours on one small paddock, before being moved to another. Gabe estimates that the cows eat 25% of the plants and trample the rest. In recent years, Gabe and his son, Paul, have begun grazing sheep, pigs and chickens in the fields after the cattle have left the paddock.

The livestock defecate into the field, manuring it, and the plants respond to the impact of the animals by exuding metabolites (products used by, or made by an organism: usually a small molecule, such as alcohol, amino acids or vitamins). The metabolites from plants enrich the soil. Gabe’s system avoids the need to spread manure, or to cut fodder for the animals, cutting costs for fuel and labor, to save on transportation expenses. The soils on neighboring farms are yellow and lifeless. After some 20 years of practicing regenerative agriculture, Gabe compares the soil on Brown’s Ranch (as he calls his farm) to a crumbly, chocolate cake, and it is full of earthworms and other life.

Gabe openly questions the model taught to US farmers, that they should produce more to “feed the world”. The world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, but 30% of it is wasted and many people do not receive enough food because of social and political problems, not agronomic ones.

Gabe doesn’t claim to produce more per acre of land than conventional farmers, but his diverse farm of 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) yields meat, maize, vegetables, eggs and honey, and more profits than the farms around him. The Browns have earned a local reputation as producers of quality food, which they sell directly to consumers at top prices, at a farm shop on Brown’s Ranch.

American youth are getting out of agriculture, because it doesn’t pay. Avoiding chemicals saves the Browns so much money that Gabe’s son, Paul, is happy to take over the farm, innovating along the way. He invented a mobile chicken coop for free-range hens, for example.

Farmers should be able to make a living while improving the soil that supports the farm. Brown’s Ranch is a large, commercial farm, that earns an income for the family that runs it. This farm is proof of concept: agroecology is not hippie science. Regenerative agriculture can be used to grow high-quality food on a commercial scale, at a profit.

Further reading

Brown, Gabe 2018 Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

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Exit strategy 2.0 October 2nd, 2022 by

Vea la versión en español a continuación

I’ve written before that a program to support a network of local food producers and consumers needs an exit strategy (An exit strategy). I’ve seen various projects that do a good job at mentoring smallholders, to produce chemical-free food, package it attractively and distribute it to discriminating consumers in the city. This usually relies on hidden subsidies: the university-educated technical staff who broker the food, promote it and transport it in cars, also paid for out of the project budget. It’s a way to show that there is demand for agroecological food, but not a business model.

In the Tungurahua province of Ecuador, last February, I saw what it takes for farmers and consumers to come together in a robust, self-sustaining way.

In the municipality of Pelileo, a city of about 50,000 people, the NGO SWISSAID started 13 years ago to teach 600 farmers and gardeners about agroecology, according to the current country director, Oscar Quillupangui. The second year, SWISSAID organized the farmers to sell their produce in a fair in the city. This was only possible thanks to the mayor at the time, who understood the importance of a market for local, organic produce. As Fernando Jácome of SWISSAID told me, “you can’t run a market without local government support. If you set up a food fair in a public space, the mayor can ask the police to throw you out. In fact, farmer fairs in some other Ecuadorian cities did not thrive, because of this lack of municipal support.”

The current mayor, Ing. Leonardo Maroto, has a vision for healthy food systems: “the countryside gives life to the city.”

When Paul and Marcella and I visited the weekly agroecological fair in Pelileo, on Thursday, 10 February, we were delighted to see a living market, supported by a whole social structure. The space itself is the size of a large basketball court, with a cement floor and a high, awning roof, no walls, but with a stage on one end and step-like seats on the other. Seventy-seven farmer-sellers, almost all women (with two or three supportive husbands), set out their fresh produce on tables in neat rows. Each table was covered with an orange tablecloth. The sellers wore green smocks and orange caps, which helped the organized women (with some help from a couple of municipal cops) to keep out free riders trying to sell conventional food in the market.

The food is of great diversity: potatoes and other Andean roots and tubers, leafy vegetables, pulses like peas and broad beans, giant squash, butchered ducks, rabbits, chickens and guinea pigs. It’s all fresh off the farm and of the highest quality, attracting a steady stream of middle-class consumers who appreciate the value of local feed, free of toxic chemicals.

“Well, it is for our health, right? We always have to be natural. Because you know that now there are so many illnesses because of the chemicals that they put in the fruits and the vegetables. So, for us, for me, and for everyone it is very good that the food is natural, to avoid illnesses,” says Maricela Herrera, one of the consumers.

There are some touches of local personality, like the ten-man brass band, from the municipal government. They don’t play every week, but they come about once a month to attract customers with their beat. There is some free food tasting (potatoes with a slice of egg, peanut sauce and a bit of boiled pork skin).

Mayor Maroto makes an appearance, offering encouraging words over the loudspeaker. The band starts again and people begin to dance, eventually dragging Paul and I onto the dance floor as well.

Through all of this, the staff from SWISSAID, including Fernando and Oscar, keep a low profile. They stand on the sidelines, but they are observant, and I would have missed one of the most important parts of the fair, if they had not pointed it out to me. The farmers who sell at the fair have elected a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, Martha Cunalata who quietly goes from one table to the next, collecting one dollar from each member, to meet the association’s expenses.

Self-financed, organized and supported by paying customers and the local government, this market could survive even without an NGO to nurture it. This is what a healthy, local food system looks like. Hopefully it will grow and plant seeds in other cities. As Paul told mayor Maroto of Pelileo, “you are an inspiration to other cities of the world.”

Watch the video

Creating agroecological markets

Related video

Home delivery of organic produce

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Acknowledgement

Thanks to Oscar Quillupangui and Paul Van Mele for their helpful comments on a previous version of this blog.

ESTRATEGIA DE SALIDA 2.0

Jeff Bentley, 2 de octubre del 2022

Ya he escrito antes que un programa de apoyo a una red de productores y consumidores de alimentos locales necesita una estrategia de salida (Una estrategia de salida). He visto varios proyectos que hacen un buen trabajo de orientación a los pequeños productores para que produzcan alimentos sin productos químicos, los envasen de forma atractiva y los distribuyan a los consumidores exigentes de la ciudad. Esto suele tener subvenciones ocultas: el personal técnico con formación universitaria que se encarga ayudar con la venta de los alimentos, de su promoción y de su transporte en vehículos, también pagados con el presupuesto del proyecto. Es una forma de demostrar que hay demanda de alimentos agroecológicos, pero no un modelo de negocio.

En la provincia ecuatoriana de Tungurahua, el pasado mes de febrero, vi lo que hace falta para que agricultores y consumidores se unan de forma sólida y autosostenible.

En el municipio de Pelileo, una ciudad de unos 50.000 habitantes, la ONG SWISSAID empezó hace 13 años a enseñar agroecología a 600 agricultores y dueños de huertos, según el actual director nacional, Oscar Quillupangui. El segundo año, SWISSAID organizó a los agricultores para que vendieran sus productos en una feria en la ciudad. Esto sólo fue posible gracias al alcalde de la época, que comprendió la importancia de un mercado para los productos locales y ecológicos. Como me dijo Fernando Jácome, de SWISSAID, “no se puede hacer un mercado sin el apoyo del gobierno local. Si montas una feria de alimentos en un espacio público, el alcalde puede pedir a la policía que te boten. De hecho, las ferias agrícolas de otras ciudades ecuatorianas no prosperaron por esta falta de apoyo municipal”.

El actual alcalde, Ing. Leonardo Maroto, tiene una visión de los sistemas alimentarios saludables: “el campo da vida a la ciudad”.

Cuando Paul, Marcella y yo visitamos la feria agroecológica semanal de Pelileo, el jueves 10 de febrero, nos encantó ver un mercado vivo, apoyado por toda una estructura social. El espacio en sí tiene el tamaño de una gran cancha de baloncesto, con un piso de cemento y un techo alto de calamina, sin paredes, pero con un escenario en un extremo y asientos escalonados en el otro. Setenta y siete vendedores de productos agrícolas, casi todas mujeres (con dos o tres maridos colaboradores), colocaban sus productos frescos en mesas en hileras ordenadas. Cada mesa estaba cubierta con un mantel naranja. Las vendedoras usaban batas verdes y gorras naranjas, lo que ayudó a las mujeres organizadas (con algo de ayuda de un par de policías municipales) a mantener alejados a los que intentaban vender alimentos convencionales en el mercado.

La comida es muy variada: papas y otras raíces y tubérculos andinos, verduras de hoja, legumbres como frijoles y habas, calabazas gigantes, patos, conejos, pollos y cuyes. Todo está recién salido de la granja y es de la primera calidad, lo que atrae a un flujo constante de consumidores de clase media que aprecian el valor de los alimentos locales, libres de productos químicos tóxicos.

“Bueno, es que, por la salud ¿no? Siempre tenemos que estar a lo natural. Sabe que ahora hay tantas enfermedades por los químicos que ponen a las frutas, a las legumbres. Entonces, para nosotros, para mí, y para todos, es muy bueno que sea natural. Porque nos evitamos de muchas enfermedades”, dice Maricela Herrera, una de las consumidoras.

Hay algunos toques de personalidad local, como la banda de música de diez hombres, del gobierno municipal. No tocan todas las semanas, pero vienen una vez al mes para atraer a los clientes con su ritmo. Hay una degustación gratuita de comida (papas con una rodaja de huevo, salsa de maní y un poco de piel de cerdo hervida).

El alcalde Maroto hace su aparición, ofreciendo palabras de aliento por la megafonía. La banda vuelve a sonar y la gente empieza a bailar, arrastrándonos a Paul y a mí a la pista de baile.

Durante todo esto, el personal de SWISSAID, incluidos Fernando y Óscar, mantienen un perfil bajo. Se mantienen al margen, pero son observadores, y me habría perdido una de las partes más importantes de la feria si no me la hubieran señalado. Los agricultores que venden en la feria han elegido un presidente, un vicepresidente, un secretario y un tesorero, Martha Cunalata, que va tranquilamente de una mesa a otra, recogiendo un dólar de cada miembro, para hacer frente a los gastos de la asociación.

Autofinanciado, organizado y apoyado por los clientes que pagan y por el gobierno local, este mercado podría sobrevivir incluso sin una ONG que lo alimente. Este es el aspecto de un sistema alimentario local saludable. Esperemos que crezca y siembre semillas en otras ciudades. Como dijo Paul al alcalde Maroto de Pelileo, “ustedes son una inspiración para otras ciudades del mundo”.

Vea el video

Creando ferias agroecológicas

Otro video relacionado

Previamente en el blog de Agro-Insight

Marketing as a performance

Algo bonito para vender

Home delivery of organic produce

Agradecimientos

Gracias a Oscar Quillupangui y Paul Van Mele por sus valiosos comentarios sobre una versión previa de este blog.

 

 

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