When you look for a South Pacific cook, you’ll often find that the best known is Robert Oliver. He is a prized cook, a food writer with a bestseller to his name (Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific) and a TV presenter from New Zealand. His TV show is Real Pasifik, whose mission is to “be the hub for authentic South Pacific food culture”, and he uses it to promote healthy food, reduce obesity, encourage traditional culture and “empower local agriculture and community”. All that through food!
And it may well be possible. To make this vision a reality, he was invited to Vanuatu earlier this year by POETcom, the Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community. He helped local chefs create haute cuisine recipes using only locally grown organic products… “Some sample recipes include taro leaf soup made from diced breadfruit, cooking bananas and green taro leaves, tuna carpaccio salad, and a pineapple split with coconut caramel” explains the organic community.
Haute cuisine for organic farmers
The logic behind this collaboration is that “creating organic recipes for the tourist market builds demand for organic crop supplies from the local community, and fosters a ‘farm to table’ supply chain that allows young people to earn an income through organic farming“.
Because luxury hotels have to cater to rich tourists demanding high quality food, they are extremely interested in these recipes. They immediately added the Oliver recipes to their menus… But now the problem is to find reliable organic producers.
So they will be able to pay a higher price for these products, a boon to young farmers. POETCom Project Manager, Osea Rasea, explains that “young people can earn a lucrative income through organic farming, but supplies need to be maintained. With the formalisation of value chains that link the agriculture and the tourism sector, niche opportunities are created, especially with organic certification. These innovative approaches of marketing organic farm produce go to address the image of farming in particular – that it is a lucrative enterprise, negating perceptions of hard, dirty work with minimal returns“.