There’s a ‘supermarket’ in the forest

News Editor

KUCHING: The Sarawak Heritage Society will be presenting a public talk entitled ‘The Sarawak Forest Supermarket’.

The talk conducted by botanist Dr Katherine (Kit) Pearce will be held next Wednesday (Sept 25) from 6pm at the Art Space, Old Courthouse.

Admission is free for society members while for non-members, a suggested donation of RM10 is kindly requested. Doors will be open at 5.30pm that day.

The forest supermarket supplies a wide variety of products but at the Sarawak Forest Supermarket, one is not limited to sourcing foods, drinks and spices.

A myriad of mushrooms exist in the jungles or forest. Besides being consumed as food, some mushrooms have medicinal properties.  Photos source: via Pixabay

There is a pharmacy section with a wide range of medicines, a Do It Yourself (DIY) department where one can find construction materials whether one wants to build a house or a boat or make handicrafts.

Fuels are available as well as dye stuffs and there is also a section providing for customers who wish to avail themselves of a little help from the spirit world.

The Sarawak Forest Supermarket has many branches and they may stock different ranges of products depending on their locations but sadly, trade has dropped off in recent decades.

The midin — much loved jungle fern and is a highly sought dish for not only Sarawakians but for local tourists from Malaya. 

This has happened for various reasons — competition from mass-produced products, stock shortages, marketing issues, quality control and others. Perhaps the most important issue is insufficient information to back potential supermarket products.

However, for those with a mind to maximise the blessings bestowed on the state, Sarawak Forest Supermarket is a ‘one-of-a-kind’ outlet that will repay efforts to support it.

It is part of the natural heritage, and members of the public can learn about the products on the forest supermarket shelf and history of their use with Dr Pearce.

The mushroom fungi — very seasonal and commonly found on fallen logs or lightning stuck trees after a storm.

She is well known to those working in forestry in Sarawak, where she has been living for over 40 years.

She received her PhD from Birmingham University in the UK, and is a consultant for the Sarawak Forest Department in international and local projects on botany, forestry and conservation management, as well as free-lance technical editor.

Pearce has lectured at UPM and Universiti Malaya; her research interest has always been in the useful wild plants of Sarawak.

Bamboo trees can be used as construction materials as well as for furniture while the shoots can be eaten and are quite a common dish in many households in Sarawak.
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