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New forum aims to promote healthy eating habits - Jakarta Post
Last modified: 2010-08-02 00:44:46

Veco Indonesia, an NGO focusing on sustainable farming, has called on Bali residents to turn to organic alternatives in an attempt to promote healthy eating habits.

Iman Suharto from Veco admitted that public awareness of the production and consumption of healthy food remained very low among farmers, food producers and consumers in Indonesia, including in Bali.

"We are widely exposed to a plethora of unhealthy food including processed food and other products grown using large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides," Iman said.

Consumers, he added, had the right to choose healthier food. "They are protected by the consumer law and therefore they have to be aware of the types of food that negatively affect their health."

To raise awareness among consumers, farmers and food producers, Veco established the Veco Breakfast Club, a monthly forum that brings together stakeholders in the community to discuss healthy food.

"The forum is intended to involve farmers, consumers, experts and producers to share their experience and expertise. It is also aimed at bridging differences among all parties," Iman said.

The first Breakfast Club focused on organic food including fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs.

"We are serving organic food free of chemicals," he said.

Udayana University public health expert Putu Aryani said that very few people in Bali understood what organic products were.

The university recently conducted a study involving 50 respondents who were buyers and sellers at a traditional market in Denpasar. Only 20 percent of the respondents interviewed had heard of organic products.

"Only 10 percent of the respondents said that they had eaten organic food," Aryani said.

She said most people were unaware of organic food because of its limited availability in local markets. "It is quite difficult to find organic fruits and vegetables at groceries or traditional markets," she said.

Lack of knowledge and understanding is also being blamed for the low consumption of organic food. "With knowledge of organic farming methods, people can grow organic vegetables in their own yards," Aryani said.

Iman added that people were reluctant to buy organic products as prices were higher than non-organic alternatives available in the market. The small number of outlets selling organic products also hampers the marketing of organic items.

I Gde Nuryasa Putra from the Badung Agriculture and Plantation Agency confirmed that the Badung regional administration had begun promoting organic farming in the area.

He said the administration was trying to provide organic fertilizers and gradually decrease purchases of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides.

"It was very difficult to teach farmers and to persuade them to turn to organic farming methods," he said.

Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post, Kuta | Mon, 04/19/2010

Keywords: Indonesia, organic, Bali, VECO, healthy food, Breakfast Club, Erviani, Jakarta Post, organik, iniative, farmers, consumers, experts, producers
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