And think about how you can incorporate it with something else…”
That was the sage cooking advice given by chef Rangi Mitaera-Johnson, at this year’s World Food Day held at Punanga Nui market yesterday morning.
She’s not one for encouraging others to follow written recipes, but is encouraging locals and outer-islanders, who she works with through Climate Change, to adapt to the locally sourced seasonal foods available around them.
That’s what this year’s local World Food Day theme was all about.
And naturally, as an advocate for sustainable living, Mitaera-Johnson’s salads, accompanied with delicious mint yogurt or tomato dressings, were also served in environmentally friendly bamboo containers.
At stalls all around the market, from bite-sized morsels of mouth-watering sashimi to delicious rukau, there was something healthy for everyone, as well as local growers showcasing their home-grown produce, from bananas to bok-choy.
The day is celebrated every year around the world on October 16 in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. It is supported by organisations concerned with food security.
In Rarotonga, the day was moved this year to Friday to better suit the busier market day and the end of the school holidays.
Organiser, and acting secretary of Agriculture, William Wigmore, says this year’s official World Food Day theme was, “Change the Future of Migration – invest in food security and rural development.”
He says the theme is based on a problem that is happening in many parts of the world at this time. People moving due to civil unrest, warfare and social problems, as well as famine.
“But (in the Cook Islands) the message for us, is about eating healthy, improving our nutrition – going back to our traditional foods, involving ourselves in home gardening.”.
Wigmore said he was very happy with local schools being involved in their own gardening programmes that encourage children to cut down on processed, sugary, fatty and salty foods and to eat healthily.
Eyeing up items to take home was local taro and banana grower and ex-secretary of Culture, Sonny Williams. For him, he said, yesterday was about sourcing cuttings and shoots for his plantation.
The day was also a chance to support the growing movement of young farmers. Manning his own stall of produce, with partner Tui Tupa, Charlie Katu thought the morning was fantastic and said, “keep doing it every year, and get more young people involved.”
The food was all gone by noon, leaving many visitors eagerly anticipating next year’s event and others just arriving, disappointed that they missed out on all the tasty healthy foods on offer.