Conversation What’s as Nice as Rice?

Bias Beras Unsplash (c) Vinay Gupta

7.30 - 8.30 PM


Tracing the history of food politics and envisioning a future that prioritizes Indonesia's local food diversity with Gatari Surya Kusuma and Ahmad Arif

After approximately six months of being constantly asked to pay attention to and maintain personal health, we are now witnessing a wave of public awareness regarding food. In the midst of exploring local food production, one thing that seems to be still missing in the minds of many people is collective resistance when disaster hits and how it is related to the availability of various foods. Indonesians are still very dependent on rice as the main source of carbohydrates. Government social aid always includes rice, as well as biscuits and instant noodles from wheat. Rice and wheat are two examples of food staples that have to be imported to ensure their availability in Indonesia. 
In this installment of BINGKIS we intend to encourage a conversation about diverse Indonesian local food sources, more specifically to trace Indonesia’s social and political history and the emphasis on growing and consuming rice. Can we imagine a future that liberates us from rice? What are the existing alternatives that have become part of many non-Javanese cultures in Indonesia but are considered inferior to rice and wheat? We want to hear real stories regarding the efforts that empower communities to earn a living from the locally available food sources at home?


Gatari Surya Kusuma lives and works in Yogyakarta. After graduating from the Indonesian Art Institute in 2016, she has devoted much of her time to research and writing, often on topics such as food, collectivism, art criticism and critical pedagogy. With her collective KUNCI Study Forum & Collective she explores joint experiments and methods of action research. She is also part of the collective Bakudapan Food Study Group to work on food issues and learn more about artistic practice.

Ahmad Arif has been working as a journalist and researcher for Kompas since 2003. Issues related to science, the environment and health are his main areas of expertise. He has written nearly 6,000 articles as a journalist. In addition to his work as a journalist, Arif has formal training in architecture and sociology. He is involved in diverse research projects and writes books. Two of Arif’s works related to food are Seri Pangan Nusantara: Sorgum Warisan Leluhur untuk Masa Depan (KPG, 2020) and Sagu Papua untuk Dunia (KPG, 2019). His books Tambora Mengguncang Dunia (PBK, 2015), Toba Mengubah Dunia (PBK, 2014), Hidup-Mati di Negeri Cincin Api (PBK, 2013), and Jurnalisme Bencana, Bencana Jurnalisme (2010) address the topics of environment and disasters.

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