We Malaysians, especially Malays, have long used banana leaves to wrap our food in it way before plastic and polystyrene took over due to the convenience and price.
However, recently a Malaysian academic has vouched for that wrapping food in banana leaves is better for the environment and also the preservation of Malay culture.
Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, a fellow researcher of the Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation at the National University of Malaysia presented a presentation on the advantages of using banana leaves at a seminar.’
Mahwati stated that it takes less than a year for a banana plant to be fully grown.
“If enough trees are planted, their leaves can be a viable replacement as food wrappings, especially since the leaves will naturally decompose once disposed of.” she said.
She also added that banana leaves have a natural waxy coating that provides better insulation for hot food than plastic wrappings.
Not only that but when hot food comes in contact with plastic, an adverse chemical reaction occurs.
Another positive attribute to using banana leaves are the aroma produced when food is wrapped in banana leaves.
It’s a simple pleasure that we are accustomed to as when we buy or devour our local delights – Nasi Lemak, Banana Leaf Rice and many more.
However, Mahwati said that the decline of using banana leaves in wrapping food as a traditional Malay food is fading from memory as the pace of urbanization increased.
Earlier in the month, she conducted a survey of 101 women from 40 to 50 years old, and nearly 95 per cent of them could not name the types of leaves used to wrap food.
She has also stated that the importance of banana leaf cannot be underestimated, as it always features in our rhymes, sayings and folk tales.
“At this rate, banana leaves and their usage will end up being forgotten by youths and future generations, eventually ceasing to be a part of Malay culture,” Mahwati said.
Ros Mahwati urges Malaysians to plant more banana trees to provide enough leaves to be used as food wrappers in the near future.
What do you think about having your takeaway in a banana leaf wrapping packaging instead of plastic containers? Do you fancy this concept? Let us know in the comments down below!
Header Image: Food And Road