The Food Revolution In The Spirit Of "MALAYSIA BOLEH"Tue 29 May 2012
Story by Farah Rahim
Malaysia Can Do It!
Food is a big thing in Malaysia. It's binds all ethnic background together. It brings joy and peace. It brings people who have one common goal together.
When Wan Maisarah and Fara Kertina met with me online in March 2011, in my support group HOMEMADE, we never thought that ensuring our babies ate as much homemade food as possible would actually make us the most influential motherhood role models amongst Malaysians on Facebook.
It was discussions about hand blenders and apple banana puree that kick started our friendship and our passion. Before long, we were preaching NO SALT and NO SUGAR to other members such as Shehan Ismail and Maghfarah Che Mansor. These were the other two that I felt, like Wan Maisarah and Fara Kertina, were soaking food education like a sponge. They could remember key points and hard facts at the tips of their fingers and made their own initiative of doing self-study on the role food plays especially for a growing child. Via word mouth to mouth, membership of HOMEMADE grew to an astounding 4,741 to date and mothers came in even before their baby turned 6 months to be food educated.
After watching Jamie's TED award speech, we were so moved we started looking into the current trends here in Malaysia and found that of late, traditional methods of making food have been replaced by packets of instant versions, as more and more Malaysian join the hectic pace of the rat race. While it was common to have mothers staying at home, it's more common now than ever to have mothers at work.
To our horror, more and more mothers had lost nutritional intelligence. There was no guilt in spooning overly processed mashed potatoes or high commercialized frozen yogurt from fast food joint. There was no guilt in giving flavoured cordial in a milk bottle instead of fresh juice. There was no guilt in a "pinch of salt" in the homemade baby cereal.
The number of diabetic patients in this country became a serious concern when the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) showed an increase of three million people with diabetes in 2011 compared to just 1.5 million five years ago. Malaysia’s health director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the situation is even more alarming when two million people in this country who have high blood sugar have yet to make it checked out.
By passing on our knowledge to the other mothers, more are aware of the seriousness of the issue of diet related diseases. In the pursue of preparing healthy meals for their baby, they have even successfully changed the diet of other members of the family as well as themselves. It seems that every mother from the 4 thousand over members on HOMEMADE was starting to cook again although some have never even cooked a full meal in their whole life, before becoming a mother. Even dads were taking into serious account how food education was important.
Joining The Global Movement On Food Revolution Day
Food Revolution Day on May 19th was the PERFECT platform to how we had mirrored Jamie’s desire to "create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child (or even mother) about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
Had it not been for Jamie’s Food Revolution, we could not have attracted the likes of Imelda Harris and Brian Chen from the first Masterchef Malaysia. They gave helpful professional cooking tips such as making sugarless flourless cake. They later hooked me up with Asha Gill who did a media coverage of the inaugural Food Revolution Day via Capital FM Malaysia to encourage more participants.
And so a small potluck gathering of good old homemade food marked the first ever Food Revolution Day in Malaysia. It was a wonderful morning picnic in the vicinity of a lakeside park in the heart of Putrajaya. This was our favourite picnic spot because of the huge playground that was accessible from the picnic area. So our kids not only had delicious homemade food but a spacious area to run around and feel free to roll in the grass or play ball.
It was also the first time we got to meet face to face and up close with some of our members. They commented that the first Food Revolution Day was spectacular and that everyday should always be a FOOD REVOLUTION DAY and hope to celebrate many more in the coming years. Thank you Jamie from the bottoms of our hearts for bringing back food education where it is needed most - our beloved homeland Malaysia in the local spirit of “MALAYSIA BOLEH”
About the author: Farah Rahim is the co founder of the Malaysian REAL FOOD movement; a local support group called "HOMEMADE - Air Tangan Ibu". She also advocates managing asthma, allergies and eczema naturally via NaturalAAE. She's the official Selangor Malaysia's ambasador of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. When not an activist and blogging, she's a Stay at Home Mom to 3 beautiful girls who love nothing but good ol' homecooked meals
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