Carrot and Cucumber Ice Cream

Perhaps it’s already been existing since years ago. Perhaps it’s actually already available in many places. But I found out about it only recently, when I met a student who belongs to a group that runs the business: vegetable ice cream. These ice creams are not merely vegetable-flavored, but are made of real vegetables, mixed with soya milk and other substances that form the texture. They said it is sold in its production site in Lembang (will have to ask again where it is exactly) and at the canteen of SBM (School of Business and Management) of ITB. They just started with this business and is still attempting to make improvements. Of course, out of curiosity, I and a friend dropped by SBM ITB canteen the next day to have a taste.

left: carrot, right: cucumber-mint

It cost IDR 5000 per cup, this time with a bonus of an extra cup: the tomato variation. We took both the available variations, carrot and cucumber-mint, which turned out to be quite satisfactory. The texture was just right, not as creamy/milky as most ice cream. The cucumber taste came up to surface, with a hit of mint (not too strong), and it’s not as sweet as one would expect from an ice cream. The same went for the carrot variation: you’d still taste the carrot and the natural sweetness of a carrot instead of the sugary-milky sweetness of a common ice cream. The tomato variation wasn’t really appealing to me, since I prefer tomatoes in their natural form. The taste of the tomato ice cream resembles that of a frozen tomato juice, with its sourness and all.

Legume

I think this start-up business has a positive prospect, especially concerning the current awareness toward healthier food and the increasing tendency to live a vegetarian lifestyle. It’s also witty to leave the term “veg” for the brand, since that would commonly repel people who consciously avoid the categorizing of “green” lifestyles. Well, hope to see (taste) more variations of Légume!

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Indonesia is a country full of “but”s!

MAGNO workshop, October 16, 2011

positive prejudice

In such a short notice, Singgih managed to invite his friends and colleagues to Temanggung for a one-day workshop with Oliver Errichiello, who distributes Magno products in Europe. About 30 people, a mix of students, designers, academics, entrepreneurs, etc. from Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo and Jakarta, gathered in Kandangan Village, Temanggung, that day. For Oliver, who has been working with Singgih for five years, it was his first time to visit Indonesia and Magno production site. The workshop started at about 9AM and was divided into two sessions, the first one was a presentation about “BrandSociology” by Oliver, who is also a sociologist and a lecturer at a university in Hamburg, Germany, the second one was when he presented about Magno in Europe. The two sessions were split by a break, where all participants visited the old (first) Magno production site: a rented neighbor’s house, which is within a walking distance from the current site, before having lunch back at Magno. The sessions were closed with presentations from the audience about their products, which gained comments from Oliver, Singgih, and Katrin Greiling, a designer from Sweden who currently resides in Bandung and went to Temanggung with us.

Following are some pointers taken during the day.

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Singgih started his introduction by showing a photo of Oliver and his family. “Business is not about transaction. It’s about interaction”, he said, explaining that it is more comfortable to exchange ‘business’ emails with a personal touch.

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Oliver and audience (photo by: S.Riyadi)

Brandsociology: how to develop & manage brands. There’s no rational or marketing reason for people to choose the range of prices of something they’d buy.

Currently, people are faced with endless choices in the market. They will have to choose which items to purchase, and they will choose the ones that have a positive prejudice. It takes years to create the prejudice.

Brand = advertisements + logo? Not so. Brand has to do with image.

There should be a repeated pattern – not identical, but similar reproduction.

A brand that consistently repeats success gains confidence and a sympathetic image.

performing, not just stating, your brand

Companies often said that they own the brand. Wrong. Actually customers, people, are the ones owning the brand, since it is formed in their minds.

An example is IKEA, the first shop that puts up the “baby” sign on men’s restroom, indicating gender equality when it comes to caring for a baby. They also provide bikes with a cart attached to each, to enable people, who shop at IKEA but drive no car, to bring their purchased items home.

These services have nothing to do with advertisement, but they create image for IKEA by performance.

Communication is important. Brand shouldn’t merely say what they are, but they should perform accordingly.

Combining things that are not usually combined is also a strategy to make a brand stand out.

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Q&A with Oliver:

certifications?

How did you raise the need for Magno? By relaying the true story about its production, and by not introducing it as a mass-product, but creating a connection between the producer and the end-users.

Did you do a marketing study before selling Magno to Europe? For the first generation of Magno, I did it by feelings. No prior market studies or anything, I’m not so comfortable in “targeting consumers”. Take Apple, there’s no market research prior to product creation.

How would you develop further products (from Indonesia) that can achieve the same success as Magno? Give a stage to one designer in an international trade fair or exhibition, who has a product ‘champion’. It would be much better compared to what has been happening: Indonesia is often represented in such events by the government but not in a good way. Often than not, the person standing at the booth know nothing about the products, and nothing is explained by the display, so the products get drowned among other products at the events.

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Magno in Germany. It started in 2006 when we had nothing but passion.

no prior market research

Today, we are specializing in fine EcoDesign products for European market only, based in Hamburg, distributes to 250 shops all over Europe, and frequent participants of renown international fairs, all based on trust.

People should LIKE the products first, then they could feel like they DO GOOD due to the background of the products. Not the other way around.

EcoDesign = creating another kind of “business relation” between producer, distributor, reseller and consumer.

Eco-Credibility and “Green” standard: certifications can be a problem for such small producers. Don’t worry about certification as long as you’re honest.

Learn to say NO. When asked about the price of Magno, the answer is that it’s not a product, but it’s a project. A product without a story will end up merely in (production) price considerations.

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Singgih:

I know only a few steps. I go.

It’s the smile. The first impression of people looking at Magno is a smile. That, for me, means that my design is a success.

We sometimes lose contacts with things we do.

Magno’s copyright has never been registered. Aren’t you worried about copycats? I’m not focusing on copycats, but on creating products that educate people.

People can copy the design but not the story behind.

Besides, it’s not easy to copy my products: the small Magno wooden radio series contain more than 100 steps to produce, and the table clock takes more than 70 steps.

The principles of Magno products are: long lasting, special, and simple. They don’t follow trends.

Indonesia is a country full of “but”s. People who want to start something commonly say, “Yes it’s possible, BUT…” – continued with difficulties they’re facing. Don’t take the easy way!

I know my dream, but I didn’t know how to get there. All I know is only a few steps. I GO.

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Magno site: magno-design.com

Jamu Gendong, Mutu-Coet

Still about surviving traditional artifact or habit that is actually a practice of ‘sustainability’, another groups presented jamu gendong, the traditional herbal drinks with certain medicinal purposes (jamu) that are sold by a woman who carry (gendong) the jamu bottles on foot, going around a marketplace or a neighborhood, and mutu-coet, a set of mortar-and-pestle made of stone that is still used to crush or ground food ingredients.

Jamu gendong

The group that proposed the subject of jamu gendong compared the system to food supplements or medications that are sold in conventional shops and come in packed pills. The group suggested to retain the system, since jamu gendong does not provide only herbal drinks, but also a social exchange between the seller and the customers. The conversation led to the fact that almost all local medicines are actually ‘modernized jamu‘, which are produced in a mass quantity to reach wider customers and therefore should be available in a more practical form (pills, capsules) and sold in vacuumed packages. It was also mentioned that some jamu gendong sellers are also using instant jamu (that comes in sachets) instead of fresh ingredients that they ground and mix themselves.

Jamu bottles

There’s also an issue of jamu gendong as a consumption of people from the lower class, and is only upgraded by having them in a gendong setting in restaurants and hotels, with ‘exotic’ and ‘traditional’ taglines. Seems like genuine jamu gendong is diminishing, since it is indeed rarely seen anymore in marketplaces and streets, especially in urban areas. But the need remains: both the genuine needs of people who actually consume jamu gendong for its purposes and people who don’t want to see the tradition diminishes and gone.

mutu-coet

The group that discussed mutu and coet, or pestle and mortar, stated that it’s not only the function of the set that’s irreplaceable, but also the myth that goes around it. It is believed, in Sundanese tradition, that a couple who wants to have a daughter should exchange a pestle with a mortar that belongs to a couple who wants to have a son, and vice versa. Mutu and coet are commonly made of volcanic stones and are known to be quite durable, the set is even handed down for generations. Food ingredients that are grounded with mutu and coet have different qualities in textures and taste, compared to those processed in an electric kitchen processor, and therefore are preferred in preparing (traditional) dishes. Like the jamu, it takes a certain skill to ground and mix food properly with mutu-coet, a skill that we might all lose when we stopped using them altogether.

What do they have to do with “sustainability”? Considering the issues of jamu gendong, mutu-coet and, previously, banana leaf as a food wrapper, they all come down to the matter of food and eating habit. It would lead to the discussion about fast food vs. slow food, energy-consumptive vs. labor-intensive process, time-saving vs. time-consuming, artificial vs. organic, etc. As people living in highly populated urban areas, with all those choices, we sometimes prefer to choose something fast and easy. We should be smarter in choosing what’s good not only for our body, but also for the resources they come from and the impacts they would cause.

Going Banana (Leaf)

As an assignment, I told my students in groups to present an example of our surviving traditional artifact and/or indigenous knowledge in a daily activity, which is actually a practice of a sustainable lifestyle. Banana leaf as a food wrapper was among the presented cases.

The group took Sundanese people (dominant inhabitants of West Java) and their meal tradition as an example. The people are used to eat by gathering and sitting on the floor, using their own hands to eat and a piece of banana leaf as a ‘plate’.

Meal tradition of Sundanese people

Banana leaf as a 'plate'

The discussion include the effects of the wrapper to the food (i.e. its taste and durability), and whether the people still possess the skill to wrap in different styles and to cook those different snacks/food.

Variations of banana leaf wraps

Snacks wrapped in banana leaves

More snacks wrapped in banana leaves

'Full' meal wrapped in banana leaves

Why banana leaf?

“Why Banana Leaf?” question yields, among others, the following answers:

– The banana trees are indigenous to Indonesia and are available in abundance

– Banana production has spread to 16 provinces and 17 regents

– Banana leaf wrapper infuses a certain fragrant to the wrapped food

In the end, it comes back to the matter of practicality. On one hand, banana wrappers have their benefits as an organic, biodegradable, food-grade material that enhance the taste and fragrant of the wrapped food. Moreover, considering the varieties of styles and forms, preserving this wrapping and cooking method also means preserving our food cultures and traditions. But on the other hand, this method requires particular ways of food treatments and preparations, a skill that should be mastered through an intensive exercise (and a huge amount of patience), and therefore can be achieved only by certain people. Food wrapped in banana leaves cannot stay too long, so it cannot stay in supermarket shelves along with i.e. other precooked food (keeping it in freezer would ruin the taste and textures); a fact that reduces its point in practicality. It is now therefore available mostly in particular restaurants and/or food stalls with ‘traditional’ theme.

The discussion went on about the relevant issues of sustainability, and how (Indonesian) designers could derive the essence of this food culture, in order to create a product or service that considers the use of organic materials as containers or perhaps even to adjust our diet and eating habit into the availability of food ingredients and their processing into our meals.

Hot Issue, Cool Solutions

On Thursday, Sept 29, 2011, The Climate Reality Project Indonesia (TCRPI) held a workshop for the youth group at TUNZA 2011 in Bandung. I and three other fellow TCRPI presenters who teamed up for this workshop have only been communicating via emails and telephone conversations, but we eventually made it. We had our session right after lunch time, scheduled from 13:30 to 15:00, and it started unsurprisingly a bit late. The room was filled with about 25-30 young people, mostly from Indonesia (Bali, Madura, Manado, Bangka, etc.) and the Caribbean countries, and also a couple of young boys from Sri Lanka.

Our session was divided into four: Dian started first by explaining about The Climate Reality Project, then continued by Arifah who delivered the scientific background of Global Warming and Climate Change. Between the two presentations, we screened a video of a woman being rescued by her neighbor during a heavy, violent flood in Brazil. That was quite a breathtaking scene that got a conversation going in the room. The video was a part of TCRP new presentation material that we acquired only in the morning, so we wished we could have shown more of the new slides. Anyway. The third presentation by Risa explained about how we – youth – must take the stand, discussing the quitter and climber types. The fourth (and last) presentation was my part, talking about Hot Issue, Cool Solutions, pointing out what youths can do in facing the current environmental situation and in preparing a pleasant, liveable earth, by being creative and active.

At the end of the presentation, we asked if any of the audience has an experience in mobilizing his or her communities, or in conducting a project, which relates to the issue. It turned out that some of them are having ongoing projects, i.e. providing clean water for his village, managing local solid waste, etc. We could see that no matter which part of the world you come from, the problems are similar. Most of us are prone to the impacts of extreme climate, but at the same time most of us – especially young, energetic people – also have the potential to face the challenges and to improve our own environment.

Following are my slides. All images, if taken from external resources, are credited, and I’m very much indebted to greendiary.com for their post about children & youth and their activities.

Among my suggestions is for them to check their ecological footprints and compare them to those of their friends’, classmates’, neighbors’, families’, etc. See who’s most ‘harmful’ for the environment and who’s most friendly, challenge themselves to change their lifestyles into more harmless ones by reducing the widest part of their footprints. I have applied this challenge to my students in several classes, who offered surprising and entertaining solutions, all specific to their (local) situations.

Another challenge might come in the form of controlling your waste. This can also be done collectively, i.e. one classroom competing with another, to see which class comes up with most garbage by the end of the week. It can include not only the classroom facilities, such as chalkboard and cleaning substance, but also the students’ candy bar wrappers, packed juice or bottled drinks, papers, etc.

Youths and their hopes for the Earth should be heard, and in this era of global information access, social media and Internet technology, relaying messages should come in a more creative forms. Groups of youths that are active in the ecological issues can connect to similar groups abroad and share experiences, just like we did in the workshop session. They can post stories, photos, plans, to inspire and encourage others.

Children and young people now are those who will live on Earth many many years from now, so they have the right to decide the kind of world they’ll live in. And they can’t just rely merely on current decision makers, multinational companies, and all adults in general. So let’s change the world into a better place to live!