If you’re local and you know it, don’t clap your hands, show your support.
To be honest, I always scratch my head whenever Singaporeans say they felt “more Singaporean” in the past. Maybe I’ve been living in an ivory tower in my childhood, or the traumatic event that caused my clinical depression in 2007 wiped out some of my memories (seriously, there are some things I really cannot remember, some which I’m too embarrassed to admit here anyways for fear my friends will take it the wrong way), but I must confess myself puzzled.
In fact, it’s only in recent times that I feel like there’s a consciousness and a collective coherence to being Singaporean. Things we used to be ashamed of, such as kiasu-ism, Singlish, the rawness of hawker fare, local talent, and even the stigma of being Singaporean itself has been replaced by pride and a consciousness that these are what differentiates being Singaporean from being just a resident of Singapore. Indeed, it’s true across the region as well, as Southeast Asian nations are reaping the benefits of, but also realizing the perils of globalization treading along the definitions of nationhood. As an open nation, we are certainly more exposed than other countries. There will be some lines where the seams of patriotism will appear stronger than others, but we must be objective, firm and clear-headed at every turn.
But even so, we are not as patriotic and as Singaporean as we ought to be. A penny is stronger than any protest, conflict and grievance, and Singaporeans appear all too ready to overlook national lines for the best buck.
I’m doing my part, not by complaining on Facebook, or displaying xenophobic behavior, but putting my money where my mouth is – into local talent. I won’t deny that part of the motivation is cultivating a physically healthier, more consumer conscious psyche, but it’s there. They may not be the cheapest options out there, but we need to get them out in the market in order for these local F&B artisans to gain cost efficiency to keep prices low.
I’ve been searching for ways to support Singaporeans in a sustainable way, and I recently found Crateful, an online grocer dedicated to offering the best of “made in Singapore by Singaporeans”. In addition, the products they carry are fair-trade products – organic, and don’t contain artificial flavors and additives. They’re operating a pop-up in Tiong Bahru a few steps from Ikyu and Forty Hands, so I decided to pay them a visit.
What: A bumper crop of calamansi limes in Singaporean Sharon Lee’s garden inspired her to create her first jam which she won for at The World’s Best International Marmalade Awards 2012. Taking inspiration from tropical produce in our wet markets, she went on to develop a line of marmalade branded as Straits Preserves.
Products: 3 flavors are available, and Crateful’s pop-up allows for tasting. As someone who’s still accustomed to off-the-shelf jams, Spice Island is a perfect transition.
Poppy & Co.
What: Singaporean Jacqueline Koay discovered speculoos, more commonly known as biscoff, a “Christmas-y” biscuit from Europe. It was often made into cookie butter (not peanut butter, as biscoff, the biscuit, is used in replacement). Realizing it commanded a premium, she developed her own Speculoos Cookie Butter.
Products: Besides the cookie butter, which comes in creamy or crunchy, Poppy & Co. also retails a baking starter gift set. Many cafes are also using her cookie butter for their pastries, so watch out for that. Apparently, men prefer creamy while women prefer crunchy speculoos cookie butter.
The Edible Company
What: Singaporean wife Genevieve realized the importance of nutrition when her father was struck with a heart attack. Since then, she developed locally made granolas, a great alternative to off-the-shelf cereals.
Products: There are 4 flavors available, including the exotic Coconut Gula Melaka. I got the Maple Honey Nut, two packets, as my colleague, Jocelyn indicated she wants one.