All my life, I wasn’t really big on the kitchen and my mom, a home maker, didn’t encourage us. In fact, she made the kitchen sound like a drudge. A great cook, she doled out plates of delight from the kitchen but made it clear that we children are to stay away. We were to go out into the world and get a career.

So, I was never a kitchen going type. I woke up, read and did my homework. I was engrossed in my books because they taught me all about possibilities.


My Idea of Childhood Cool

My childhood idea of cool was thousand island and French dressing. Growing up in a household where rice and curry was a staple, the idea of an iceberg lettuce doused in thousand island dressing squeezed out of a plastic tube was everything exotic and foreign for me along with Levi’s jeans and Reebok shoes.

I still think about this time with a tinge of nostalgia. It took me a long time to really start understanding food. Really looking at produce, how it was grown and what it meant to eat fresh and local food. When I went to live in a far away country and found a farm on a rolling hill and started picking on produce fresh from the farmer’s land, I knew that I was tasting a different world.


I trudge up the dirt road uphill. I take my time. I have a vantage view of the roof of my grandfather’s sprawling house as the sun climbed higher. My grandfather strides ahead with big steady steps, dapper in his crisp, white vesti. Reed tall with receding hair, he is the kindest man I’ve ever known. Always sharing, always opening his heart and home to everyone. Today, he is in a hurry and I follow him as fast as my legs can carry me. A bright red door flings open.

Mr Chang, a portly…

There is something very earthy and primal about feeling fresh ground spices with your fingers. It is as if the spices are whispering conspiratorially, telling you about their secrets and all the joys to be imbibed. As the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom splutter in the hot kuali, the piqued senses feel a rush. The infusion spontaneously feels reassuring, like a hug from a child. All the usual family rows and bickering of the week will evaporate by Sunday afternoon, after lunch. It must be the spices working their way into our spirits.

Whilst clearing my cookbooks, some odd scraps of paper slip out. It was dated over 12 years ago with written measurements and timing for baby feeds. The well thumbed pages reminded me how I was learning to be a mother and learning to feed the baby at the same time. I remember the joy of watching my little baby and how much he loved apple sauce made from blitzed steamed apples. A colicky baby, Sarvesh’s road to solids was an eagerly anticipated event for we were told that solids would help him feel better.

As if on cue, he rewarded…

There is countless material out there to describe the wonders of the Machine Farm. The Machine Farm uses 95% less water and, enables the yield of 1 acre of farm to produce on a 320sqf space. It has a 365-days cycle at any location promising stable prices and yield all-year round. Zero use of harmful chemicals and pesticides with minimal labour dependence. It is suitable in remote and harsh climates, and can continue production between -50°&+50°conditions. It is supported by an automation driven platform which drives predictive growth modelling, enabling remote global monitoring and control.

At the back of my…

Our connection to each other, the building of kinship, family, food and culture is deeply planted in us, fueled by our need to belong and share love. This knowing fills us with lightness and happiness. We plate it and serve it.

Food and farming has become my focus for several years. Thinking and writing about food, a sense of home, our children, building the future and what it will take to get there.

I feel a great, deep relief — that I am following, at last, my true path. Years ago, I started talking to farmers, food producers, advocates and…

Jay Desan

Founder of BoomGrow and sustainable businesses. Thinking and writing about food and farming, a sense of home, Malaysia, our children and the future.

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