Healthy local recipes

THE rise of non-communicable diseases in Fiji continues to be a major health concern and in an effort to combat this rising trend, culinary chef Colin Chung and experienced hotelier Greg Cornwall had teamed up with the Ministry of Agriculture to recently launch a new cook book to promote the use of fresh local produce.

The book titled Kana Vinaka — Contemporary Island Cuisine was written by Chef Colin, who is the director of Pacific Islands Resort Consultants Ltd (PIRC). It was co-published by Mr Cornwall, who is also a partner at PIRC.

The hope was to teach people to eat more healthy locally-produced foods and move away from imported processed foods, which Chef Colin believes, are not only expensive but a contributing factor to the growing number of NCD cases.

Fiji’s agricultural sector plays a vital role in the economy, not only boosting the country’s gross domestic product but providing sustenance for families who depend on farming for their livelihoods and survival.

One only needs to take a walk to the local market or pass vendors selling fresh produce to realise just how blessed we are to have these healthy alternative food sources readily available.

The supply and demand of these greens often dictate the prices and at times when the price of these greens are too high because of several factors such as shortage of supply, consumers tend to switch to cheaper alternatives and processed foods.

The new cook book in more ways than one tries to encourage a new way of eating and using fresh local produce.

And Chef Colin says the 102 recipes and techniques in Kana Vinaka are easy to use and follow.

“There are some fun and exciting foods to make and this can help change the way we can eat healthy and local,” said Chef Colin, who is originally from Hawaii and has more than 40 years’ experience in hospitality and cuisine.

“Kana Vinaka celebrates local produce and explores contemporary island cuisine. Being able to share my experiences, knowledge, techniques and understanding about foods to help other chefs, home cooks, foodies and young professionals learn more about cooking, eating and gathering in better ways for them and the planet is the goal. This cookbook is a prime example of this.”

With access to TV and the internet, Chef Chung believes there has been a shift in the appetite for culinary knowledge but people could expect a fresh take on local produce when they get their hands on their new cook book.

“Those with TV and access to the internet definitely are sharing the world-wide growing affinity for cooking and eating new foods, but many villagers and older people are without knowledge, desire, and incomes to be able to better their eating habits and diets. We need to take this knowledge to all these people,” he said.

In general, Kana Vinaka is celebration of contemporary Fijian cuisine, which explores Fiji’s bountiful produce and provides a wide selection of modern recipes, as well as, adapting traditional favourites to renew our pride and enjoyment of local cuisine.

“Throughout Fiji, food is about sharing our hospitality and culture with others, and Kana Vinaka (literally translated to mean ‘good food’ or ‘eat well’), is a modern and innovative look at Fijian cuisine, which provides us with exciting new recipes to try at home, in restaurants, resorts and culinary training institutions,” Chef Colin said.

During the official launch on April 21 at USP’s Oceania Centre, Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu said the Kana Vinaka cook book would be easily adopted in schools and educational institutes.

“Considering that a significant amount of food consumed in Fiji is imported, this book, with its innovative recipes and focus on seasonal, locally produced food, will be easily adopted in schools and educational institutes,” he had said, noting the book would also provide great ideas for local and international chefs to use local ingredients and present Fijian delicacies in a contemporary and modern fashion to visitors.

So whether you’re buying fresh from the market or growing your own greens in the back yard, one message is clear — healthy foods equate to healthy and happy lifestyles.

* The Kana Vinaka cook book can be

purchased from USP Bookshop, Tappoo,

Essence of Fiji Spa, Flavours of Fiji and The Fiji Orchid.

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