Monday, March 17, 2008

coconut scraping a daily mealtime chore

I find we in Sri Lanka are incredibly unproductive in our use of time, as well as in some cases, valuing our leisure over the pursuit of money to an extent that sometimes drags economic growth rather than being neutral. This is a policy makers nightmare as none of his textbook theories work on the Sri Lankan spsyche.

For the record, most households in Sri Lanka today, cook by using firewood, and most households use at least a coconut a day for cooking their curries. Both these items are getting scarcer by the day.

A coconut is scraped every day, in a household, where a mother usually is up at dawn to cook the days three rice meals. She starts with scraping a coconut for the first fifteen minutes, and once the coconut milk is obtained for the curry, scrapes another half for the pol sambol. They rarely use the squeezed coconut for the sambol, which is the way to go.

We have become so dependant on the coconut for our daily food consumption that I believe it is time we adopted some habits that are both more nutritious and also less reliant on scarce energy and coconuts.

If we use less coconut, that means eating fewer cooked curries, and if we use less coconut oil, it means eating less fried food, and if we use less firewood, it means eating certain foods in a raw state as in a salad. These three areas can be built into a campaign that can address some of our pressing problems in one sweep.

This is an ideal campaign for the agricultural department, the health department and environmental lobby to work together for the common good. It will release time in sense of less cooking, improve nutrition in healthy eating, and use less fossil fuels, a major environmental pollutant in Sri Lanka. As a by product it will keep the price of the next most important item of food, other than rice at an acceptable level.

In jest and in all seriousness, if everyone eats the way I do we will not have a food crisis, rice shortage or coconut crisis, and if we eat the way my staff do we are heading for disaster before we know it.


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Sam said...

Isn’t our lobby’s/departments and all those tie up culture, history and all that sort of things too much, so they don’t have much courage to change anything fundamental like scarping coconut? Aren’t they come up with that brilliant idea of serving “Kewum” and “Kokis” (which is Dutch recipes in the first place) instead of biscuits?

I can live without coconut milk for sure. But, squeezed coconut for the sambol? That sound Taliban.