It’s time for an eco-food revolution.TAKE ACTION
It is not unusual for us Filipinos to hear news about our farmers rallying to fight for their land and human rights, or laborers of large Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies protesting for fair wage that sometimes result in bloodshed and violence. We’ve heard countless news on farmer killings and several research and statistics that claimed they belong to the poorest sector in the Philippines for decades. It is not unusual for us to hear about our farmers being threatened, whether by big corporations, their landlords, or the extreme changes in our climate.
Then we see news about our food being thrown and wasted because of oversupply, being recalled because of life-threatening effects, being injected so they could weigh more and look tastier. It is also not unusual for us to hear news about our food being threatened, politicized, and controlled.
The awareness and concern for our food system has been growing and slowly gaining its much-needed attention. We now know that highly processed, genetically modified, and chemically sprayed foods expose our bodies to harmful risks that lead to the development of various chronic diseases. But how much do we really know and understand about what goes into our food? Does our food provide us with the proper nutrition that we need or does it only bring us more disease instead of ease? Who grows our food and who controls it? How do our food choices affect not only our health, but also our economy, our environment, and the wellbeing of the people who grow them?
One of the biggest food-related issues we’ve encountered for this year is the enactment of RA11203 Rice Liberalization Law, which has stirred a lot of conversations about our food system and farmer rights. It is said that the bill has brought despair to local rice farmers all over the country and the Filipino citizens have been empathizing with them; which we hope would lead to more concrete, sustainable actions from consumers. The consumers are one of the key actors in shaping our food system, and the farmers at the center of the circular food web.
On October 26, a group of food justice advocates will be mounting “Food. Farming. Freedom.”, a conference that seeks to raise awareness on critical issues in our food systems and hopes to mainstream the worldview that agro-ecology, organic food systems, and biodiversity will heal our broken food and farming systems.
The lectures and workshops will be facilitated by different food justice advocates from various backgrounds and experiences related to food, farming, education, and social enterprise. Plant-based chef and founder of Ecology of Food Plant-Based Nutrition course Asha Peri will be talking about the peasant food web and how it is critical to global food security and the future of the planet. Chito Medina, P.h.D., an Associate Professorial Lecturer at De La Salle, Manila, former consultant to the office of the secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, and former national coordinator of MASIPAG, will tackle the corporate control of our food system and its impacts to human health and the health of the environment. Karla Delgado and Amena Bal of Kai Farms, will discuss seed-saving as a powerful way to reclaim our biodiverse food system. Good Food Community co-founder Charlene Tan will talk about community-supported agriculture as an alternative distribution model to promote a food system that benefits everyone.
Five simultaneous 2-hour workshops will follow the lectures to strengthen the call to action and engagement of the consumers. An introduction on the historical perspective of customer action in the Philippines, the role of the consumer and current consumer trends will be discussed by Ka Jhun Pascua of Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid and People’s Food Movement. The workshop includes:
- Kids BeLeaf!, a campaign to provide plant-centered education in pre-schools to promote local, organic, and non-GMO eating to be facilitated by Chef Asha Peri;
- How To Start Your Own Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) by Good Food Community;
- Defend Our Rice, Fight For Our Rights, on developing an engagement toolkit to strengthen producers and consumers freedom from GMO rice to be led by Alfie Pulumbarit of MASIPAG;
- Save The World Starting With Your Plate 101 by Lakapati Basa of The Real Happy Cow, where one will learn practical tips and hacks on how to build a sustainable plant-strong kitchen; and
- Consumers Unite! by researchers and activists Mary Ann Manahan and Maria Fatima Villena, which will discuss different potential consumer action in various spaces of engagements at the local and national levels.
Attendees will enjoy a spread of plant-based dishes prepared by chefs in collaboration with local farmers will be served to showcase the diversity of local organic produce. Chefs include Barby O’Hara of Rawsome Kitchen, Mylene Vinluan Dolonius, Yen Bellarmino, Cielo Castro-Magisa of Delicielo, Rap Cristobal of Purple Yam Malate, and Mareus Dela Rosa, son of a MASIPAG farmer and General Manager of The Artisan Farms.
The conference will be held at the Ateneo Loyola School of Theology in Katipunan. “Food. Farming. Freedom.” is organized by Masipag Farmers, Me & My Veg Mouth, Good Food Community, and Bread of Freedom, with the support of Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines and Palawan-born Binhi Mindful Market.
Gia Querubin, founder of BINHI Mindful Market in Palawan.
(This article was previously published in a slightly altered form in Palawan News on September 17, 2019.)