Consuming healthy food remains a challenge for a lower-middle income people in Indonesia, particularly those living in rural areas. Unhealthy instant and ultra-processed food are favored since they are easily accessed and widely available. Meanwhile, healthier, locally-sourced food are increasingly forgotten. To improve awareness of better nutrition, Hivos and Tanoker collaborate in promoting healthy food in various initiatives in Ledokombo subdistrict, Jember Regency, East Java as both believe citizens play a vital role in building a sustainable food system. Therefore, Hivos supports a culinary festival during the 10th Stilt Festival (Festival Egrang) through the Sustanaible Diets for All (SD4All) program.
In Indonesia, especially in Ledokombo, Tumpeng (Indonesian cone-shaped rice) is still maintained as a culture that represents harmony and prosperity of a community. With a deep symbolic meaning, tumpeng as an offering and a physical representation of gratitude towards God could be an instrument in preserving culture that can be integrated in building innovative community. Tumpeng derived from the Javanese language: tumpak and lempeng which has meaning that we, as a human being, must live a good life.
A culinary festival with the theme “Tumpeng Memuliakan Desa” (Tumpeng Glorify the Village) is aimed to influence the transition towards a healthy food consumption and sustainable management of natural resources. This festival involved culinary groups from various walks of life. Participants did their very best in creating various forms of healthy tumpeng that did not use white rice, but instead using healthier alternatives and locally sourced ingredients, such as corn, brown rice, tubers (such as cassava), mung beans or their combination.
Participants of PKK Desa Sukogidri set up the food. © Sena Aji/Hivos
“Every year, along with the ‘Egrang’ festival, a culinary festival is held to present healthy cuisine creations from various elements of the community in the Ledokombo Region and other parts of Jember. We expect the festival brings an added value to the current efforts to promote healthy, local, and sustainable food,” said Sutopo. He further explained that the healthy food menu initiative is one of Tanoker’s main focuses in developing Ledokombo as an ecotourism village.
Side dishes served as an additional menu in the tumpeng competition. © Sena Aji/Hivos
The tumpeng festival itself not only assesses the aesthetic aspects, but also aspects of the choice of main and supporting materials for the cone-making, starting from the content of natural ingredients, absence of chemicals, and flavor enhancers.
Tumpeng preparation by the grandparents group (Sekolah Eyang). © Sena Aji/Hivos
Nineteen culinary groups participated in the tumpeng competition. There was a unique participant with the average age of 55 to 80 years old, namely “Sekolah Eyang” (Grandparents School). Apart from their age, the uniqueness of the menu presented is no less interesting. Sekolah Eyang presented a healthy tumpeng menu with unique names that attracted the attention of visitors. For example, Nasi Pistol (Pisang Tolo), which is a tumpeng that is modified with the basic ingredients of a local variety of bananas and cowpeas. There is also a menu called Sekipu (Oseng Kulit Puhung), an appetizing creation of stir-fried cassava skin. Not surprisingly, this group ranked in the top two in the tumpeng festival competition.
The agility of the 10th Egrang Festival contestants. © Dyama Khazim/Hivos
Egrang Festival is a cultural celebration that grows from the community. Initiated by Tanoker, it has become an annual event of the Jember Regional Government as well as other local stakeholders as part of the commemoration of the International Day of Peace on September 21st.