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Laksa without ‘hum’: What’s Behind The Cockle Shortage? | For Food’s Sake | CNA Insider

Imagine eating Singaporean and Malaysian fare like laksa or char kway teow without blood cockles. That day could come, with supply dwindling dramatically.

This has affected eateries like Two Chef’s Eating House – whose signature dish is garlic and chilli cockles – which says the price of cockles has doubled in 5 years.

The key culprit? High levels of nitrates and phosphates from pollution which, according to researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia, are suffocating the cockles.

While the Malaysian authorities have limited the size of harvest and distribution to revive the population, there are still fishermen who smuggle cockles to Thailand for sale, says the general manager of Pontian District Fishermen Association.

But there is hope in aquaculture as marine labs in Malaysia are breeding cockles in a controlled environment. #ForFoodsSake explores how.

Rising food prices are the new normal across the world – year by year, we’re hit by new reports about food inflation and price hikes. In Singapore, a country which imports 90 per cent of its food, the cost of such staple groceries as fish or bananas has almost doubled since 2008.

What are the forces driving the food prices up? How much will buying basic ingredients hurt our pockets in the future? Self-taught chef Lennard Yeong takes iconic Singaporean dishes, such as laksa or chicken rice, and dissects them to unravel the unlikely connections between world events and our table.

From price fixing scandals to pollution and mysterious diseases, Lennard travels across Southeast Asia to understand how seemingly random occurrences disturb the food supply in Singapore – and if it is possible to predict and prevent the price hikes and food shortages in the future.

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