Week 7 LAB Projects 2018

Planetary Health

Participating Faculty: Brian G. McAdoo and an instructor from the Culinary Institute of America, Singapore

Project Duration: Friday, 28 September to Saturday, 6 October


  • This Week 7 will require a student co-pay of S$600. (Financial aid and merit grants are available. Please do not let finances deter you from participating).

Photo Caption: Organic farm on deforested land near Gunung Palung National Park outside of Sukadana, West Kalimantan.


Course Summary:

Would you cut down a tree in a protected rainforest to save a loved one’s life?

Until very recently in West Kalimantan, communities were illegally cutting down rainforest trees and threatening critical orangutan habitat in the Gunung Palung National Park so that they could afford basic healthcare. Health in Harmony, working with Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) came up with a radical solution to this problem- Subsidised health care would be provided to community members who pledged to give up illegal logging. In addition to acute and preventative medical care, ASRI would provide assistance to help former loggers invest in more sustainable livelihoods- from organic farms to shops that would sell healthy foods to the community. This approach requires continued monitoring of the forests as well as reforestation efforts.

As global environmental change continues to accelerate due to the actions of humans, Planetary Health seeks to better understand how transboundary environmental issues, from climate change to deforestation, river and ocean health, affect the everyday health of humans that rely on these systems for survival. This Week 7 exploration will visit the town of Sukadana near Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, where the health clinic run by ASRI is employing the principles of Planetary Health. When we arrive in Sukadana, we will have a brief introduction to ASRI, and a tour of the clinic, reforestation sites, and organic farm.

During our time in Sukadana, we will create a cookbook using the products available from the region. Students working with chefs from Singapore (hopefully!) will create recipes that use local produce from the ASRI organic farmers (former loggers). Students will survey the farmers for the types of vegetables grown, how much are grown at each farm, and the seasonality (if any) of the different available fruits and vegetables. Other groups will explore the different proteins sources that can be obtained locally, and fit within the various cultures in the foodshed while considering how a healthy environment will support healthy fish, chicken and pork (for the Dayak community) production. After the field research is completed and recipes created, we will present well-balanced, healthy meals and present nutritional information in the local language(s) that will help educate the community to a diet that is not only good for the body, but also good for the environment. On the final day, we will collect ingredients from the region and 5 teams of 3 people will create a meal that will be judged by the ASRI staff based on environmental sustainability, affordability and local cultural context, and, of course, aesthetics and taste. Recipes will be recorded and compiled in a Bahasa Indonesia and English language cookbook.

Partner Organisations:

Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), Sukadana, West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Health in Harmony (HiH), Portland, Oregon, USA

Other Week 7 LABs