Tri Sutrisna: Bali’s Heritage Foods

Tri Sutrisna grew up in a Balinese compound in a small village in Gianyar. After attending Campuan College in 2013, he went direct into a food design traineeship where he developed an interest in local foods and food design skills at a farm cooperative, serving as a liaison between farmers and executive chefs and resort owners. Tri has worked in many levels of food production, from driving, teaching, cleaning chicken/pig/beef carcasses to marketing, evaluating feed programs, experimental laboratory work and computer design. In 2017, Tri become CEO of Wanaprasta, a company that produces farm-based wilderness foods.


Why is it important to develop Indonesia’s local foods?

To give confidence to our own voice and tasting palate. To provide greater opportunities for young Indonesians to be seen as leaders rather than as service staff. To make domestic consumers realize the incredible diversity of their own flora and fauna. I’m a strong believer in Indonesia being its own food design leader, not just the supplier of raw materials. Indonesia has amazing food resources, many of them under used.


What are some prime examples?

There are so many! New heritage varieties of meats, vegetables and fruits are almost endless. Coffee, cocoa, grains and spices are all untapped and waiting. Just this year we released a completely new kind of peppercorn that is much like a slightly larger poppy seed. It will revolutionize the way peppercorns can be used. Bread makers are going to go nuts over this new spice.


What is a food designer’s job?

To take existing farm foods and reinterpret them for consumers. For instance, cocoa becomes fermented beans, then chocolate. Pigs become pork, then becomes charcuterie and ultimately becomes capicola, bacon or salami. Milk becomes curd, which then becomes cheese. Fermentation is one of the key tools, but it also involves the nurturing of a tasting palate and the discipline to experiment continuously. In modern parlance, you could say that I’m a food lab nutty professor/chef.


What makes your farming operation different from others in Bali?

For meat and dairy there is no other operation similar to ours. In everything we do we try to source, grow and nurture through our farm cooperatives and nearby wild spaces. We prioritize farming in a three-tier income stream that’s rooted in non-chemical commercial farming that is not unlike a permaculture system. We earn income from cropping, e.g. mango trees (high), shrubs/vines e.g. vanilla (medium), animals e.g. pigs/chickens (low) in a natural partnership. We only farm animals that roam freely and live on a pastured diet. This is a commitment to quality as well as to organic farming that includes animal welfare as a key concern.


How does the pastured system work?

Our commitment is to have our animals outdoors in natural conditions with access to plants and other natural foods found in pasture land. The animals source their own food independently. It’s a bit like duplicating the nomad/shepherd system of keeping animals on the move to find fresh pasture rather than standing in their own excrement in a shed as is the case in so-called “free-range” operations. With free roaming animals, our role is simply to supplement the animals’ dietary needs and keep them as content as possible.


Aren’t free range animals also well-treated?

The free-range concept is often abused by factory systems. The term implies that animal care is of great concern. But actually factory or intensive meat food production are inherently abusive of animals and customers. It goes completely against the natural system of planet earth and only exists because we have found scientific ways of efficiently growing animals in nightmarish conditions. The pastured method is totally removed from the factory system of meat production. We use the term pastured to emphasis that our animals eat fresh grass and live in a humane and caring environment.


How do you assure that your beef is organic?

It’s fairly easy to achieve “organic certification” in Indonesia even for farming operations that we would regard as intensely industrial. For us, getting back to a natural system that existed in the pre-chemical era is more important than seeking a certification process that accepts unnatural factory methods of meat and dairy farming. We have organic certification in regard to our milk operations but we don’t usually mention it because it’s relatively meaningless. Our commitment to raising pastured cattle aspires to a higher standard. At the moment, there is no pastured organic certification. Hopefully we can change that.


Do you grow your chickens differently?

Not really. We grow our chickens in forest and pasture, allowing them to run around and harvest their own insects, lizards and greens. We also provide them with a supplementary meal from ground larvae protein, forest greens, fruits and pollard just in case they need more dietary support. We do this for both meat birds and the egg birds. There are no such thing as organic eggs if the layers aren’t being pastured outdoors. We don’t add any antibiotics, which they don’t need anyway as they ingest chlorophyll from the plants they eat. Our chickens are constantly moving. You won’t find them standing in a wasteland of their own excrement as in most ‘free range’ or ‘organic’ commercial operations. They are well and truly pastured.


How do you grow your pigs?

Our pigs are not the typical Landrace variety designed in Denmark for high rates of growth and reproduction. Our heritage bangkal hitam pigs are not grown in concrete boxes. They are designed to live naturally with and in nature and thrive under those conditions. They roam in large enclosures where they are fed a seasonal diet of fruits. The most plentiful fruit season is mango; the shortest season is mangosteen. By contrast, the white Landrace faces great difficulties living in natural organic conditions. To grow the Landrace in that environment you’ll need to take shortcuts with artificial feed support. Thus the Landrace pig tastes like cardboard in comparison to delicious meat from our heritage breed. Our pigs give us gourmet sausages, bacons, hams and the world’s only mango-fed charcuterie (cold meats). We make this specialized charcuterie in this small little village north of Ubud. It feels good to produce something nobody else can!


What makes your cheese different from commercial cheeses?

We are the only fully indigenous cheesemaker in Indonesia. We have achieved this by developing our own dairy cooperative and cheese making methods. We are small scale which enables us to control our operation in ways commercial operators are not able to. Being small and farm-based rather than commercially driven makes it easier for us to develop a 100% indigenous cheese which is unique and identifiably Indonesian. For over six years we have developed our own milk, molds and penicillin strains that have evolved in the warmer conditions of Bali. We also use sustainable fermenting methods, such as our use of durian as a fermenting medium, that is specially adapted to the Indonesian tropics. No other dairy farmers work in this way in Indonesia because they are focused on making facsimiles of European cheeses for the tourist industry. We deliberately turned our back on this approach.


How may you be contacted?

My direct WhatsApp is 813-388-775-95; depot/office: 813-387-298-38. Our Facebook page offers detailed info on what we do and who we are.



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