Independent Food

The beginning of 2016 was a new start for Bakudapan to embark on our next issue after the “Fast and Foodrious” project. It took more than one or two weeks to decide what would be the next issue and the scope of discussion. There were many ideas, stories, interests, and hopes, which appeared on our early discussions. After a couple of meetings, we came into conclusion that apparently the issue of organic foods and its relation to consumers who crave for healthy foods appeared most often on our discussions. Obviously this idea was still too general. We then stepped more into reflecting and focusing on what actually our true concern was about this phenomenon.

Ever since, questions have been raising and they somehow turn out to be some cynical and sceptical acts towards anything related to the consumption of organic produce. We have a suspicion that this phenomenon belongs to middle class people who want to differentiate themselves from other class with their ease in buying organic carrots no matter if they cost three times than the ones available in traditional markets whereas the taste and the look are practically no different. What if organic items become a new commodity traded for the benefits of capitalists today? Meanwhile, if we look back to where this organic act of producing and consuming came from, we will find that it was actually a form of protest and resistance against food corporations. It fought for the marginalised farmers, natural resources being destroyed, etc.

On our early times of research, we also made a group discussion where we shared related articles to read and afterwards sat together to elaborate them or just a casual session of sharing ideas. In order to get more backgrounds about organic movement in Yogyakarta, we initiated to visit some organic practitioners; farmers, activists, institutions, movement initiators, and groups of artist. Moreover, we then realised that these phenomena are more than just about food or organic vegetables. There are more interesting issues that surround them; such as farmer welfare, fair trade, ecological agriculture, etc. These thoughts made us rethink the best words to sum the whole thing up in a suitable term. For our reference, there are some terms always mentioned when it comes to organic issue, e.g. food sovereignty, food security, self sufficiency, or even halal lan toyyiban food. Each of these terms is used by individuals or groups who have a certain ideology towards the aforementioned issues.

We would like to set a distance from them in order to get our own perception. Long story short, we eventually came to a decision to name this project with “Independent Food”. Apart from our hobby to name our projects inspired by movie titles[1], we felt that one thing that unites these activities is their resistance to food industrialisation and their independency from the government in a way of providing foods for the people. Consequently, they work independently and build their own networks by making workshops where they share their knowledge or creating a market where they trade the goods for the members. According to one of our members, this situation is similar with independent music scene. Thus, unanimously we decided to adopt this “independent” term to our project theme.

However, the description above might sound a bit utopian. Therefore, we further ask ourselves in what ways these movements are really independent, and independent from what?

Obviously, there are still many things to dig more, not to forget what methods to be applied for the research. We are trying to do some experimental methods, such as learning on how to cultivate a land at KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, who kindly lets us use their land. Apart from doing interviews, we would like to also contribute to various activities or even consume the products. We believe that by using our body to work and to experience as part of experimental process, it can be a way for us to get more comprehensive points of view in both discussing and reflecting the theme we’re researching.


[1] Inspired by “Independence Day” movie