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Objecting Taste Colonization for a More Sovereign Self

By: Teguh Iman Affandi

Fed up by the colonization of taste, Rita Mustikasari, a member of Kaoem Telapak, develops Martani, a brand that fights for food sovereignty.

“How can we say we are sovereign if our tastes are colonized? Some specific term constructs the taste. For example, a delicious cake is a fluffy one, a sponge. How about Indonesia’s taste itself?” said Rita.

Rita Mustikasari, member of Kaoem Telapak, with Martani’s Product

In developing Martani, Rita tried to apply a pasang campaign approach. The approach she was familiar with when she was active in the Kaoem Telapak (formerly known as the Telapak – ed). In the organization, two methods of advocacy were carried out. It called as bongkar (unveil – ed) and pasang (put in – ed) campaign.

“The bongkar campaign means opening something, for example, illegal logging. On the other hand, the pasang campaign is trying to build something up, which seems to be less hardcore. I tried to enter with the pasang campaign approach,” said Rita.

According to Rita, Martani is a mandate from the Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KRKP), a civil society group that aspires to achieve food sovereignty for Indonesians. In 2012, Martani was established in Bogor. However, one year later, the office moved to Prambanan to be closer to the farmers.

Carrying the slogan, Olah Rasa Membangung Jiwa (Creating taste to enlighten soul – ed), Martani wants to show the irony that exists in Indonesia. “Through the taste, we want to go in and say that there is something wrong with all of us, especially on how we treat food. As an agricultural country with diverse products, the question of why the price of chilli is unstable, why the price of cassava only a thousand rupiah, we late to notice things like that,” said Rita.

In defining the word sovereign, Rita prefers to focus on things she can do every day. She gave an example of Mahatma Gandhi. “for objecting the British colonialization Mahatma Gandhi spun his thread,” she said.

Regarding the sustainability of Martani, Rita admitted that she did not have high hopes. One person who starts thinking reflectively about the food sovereignty situation would make Rita more than happy. “The person we talk to starts re-think what is going on, when they eat cake, what flour is it? Where did the flour come from? When taking out the trash, what would we do to reduce trash?” said Rita.

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