How forgotten local plants could ease malnutrition in East Timor - by Jared Ferrie

The Australian owners of a restaurant in East Timor are hoping to use their passion for the local cuisine to combat malnutrition in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

East Timor has Asia's worst rates of child malnutrition, with more than 50 percent of children suffering from stunting - a condition that permanently affects their mental and physical development - according to the United Nations.

But this is not primarily due to a shortage of food - instead, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF blames a lack of education and knowledge about local foods.

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Juan Andres Mussini
Bumping Up Against Tings in Dili, Timor-Leste - a narrative by David Szanto

In which I encounter heat, dengue mosquitoes, and citronella patches . . . aged cocktails and air-conditioned expats . . . eggs benedict on the beach  . . . complex thinking about development, localness, and food  . . . a visualization map of Timor-Leste’s agro-biodiversity . . . hero food . . . fresh coconut water, near the water . . . the Portuguese supermarket with a local food display . . . storytelling and crying, storytelling and laughing . . . Tetun and 44 other languages . . . coffee with an activist-educator-musician . . . U.S. dollars and Portuguese centavos . . . luhu . . . betel nut . . . budu . . . crocodiles . . . international development workers . . . cars breaking down, drivers paying for accidents . . . four new Burger Kings and duty-free Absolut . . . avocado juice with chocolate syrup . . . chickens, dogs, kids, potholes . . . and one, then three, then many more extraordinary connections . . .

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Juan Andres Mussini