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July 12, 2018

GOING SLOW? BE A FARMER, A SLOW FARMER

I was with a group of friends from college and the conversation went to retirement plans and doing what we always wanted to do. My friend who is in mining happily told me that she  started rehabilitating her quarries with a greenhouse, and soon, papaya trees. She will then put solar panels and make her own power/electricity. Good plan. After all, she is an engineer.

Then the talk went to hydroponics, using different planting media for plants like coco peat and rice hull and other “farming” stories. But my next question would be “Are you growing them to sell them or to grow your own food?” She replied, “to sell them.” I kept quiet as I know sellers need the yield, volume and a scientific way to avoid pests, even if the method is not as natural as you would hope it to be.

I am the other kind of farmer. I am happy just growing my own food. I am happy being able to supply our three ECHOstores (the fourth one is not yet able to sell fresh produce for now), and I am happy being part of Slow Food which believes in GOOD, CLEAN AND FAIR food. It is not my style to argue about which method is best. It is not my style to argue that organic or the use of soil as medium and avoiding chemical inputs and pesticides is the best way.

When people talk about making profit or selling to be sustainable, I stop promoting Slow Food. It is not for everyone yet—until disease hits home or until someone who is close to you dies of cancer or exposure to stress and bad food.

Slow Food, besides being anti-fast food, needs some exposure to organic and natural farms for you to understand what it is trying to achieve. For almost 30 years now, Slow Food grew as a movement in Italy and soon spread to over 100 countries to solve poverty through food production in the smallest and poorest communities. It has over 100,000 members who all are voluntary members with no expectations except to believe and promote the philosophy. And it has no budget for advertising or promotions. This is why sponsors are hard to come by, leaving us members to think of creative ways to promote food production that are good (tastes good), clean (of chemicals) and fair (where both consumer and farmer get a fair deal).

In many countries where we have chapters, people like the idea of growing good food but are hard-pressed by money needs to make food production independent of major food companies. Thus, sponsors come in to promote their new product but it is hardly ever compatible with Slow Food principles. So, Slow Food must depend solely on its members’ ability to talk about the movement. Luckily we have famous chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters (UK and USA respectively) who are members and promoters.

Berna Romulo-Puyat, Jamie Oliver, Margarita Fores, and the author

In the Philippines we have Chef Margarita Fores who I traveled with in 2014 to Terra Madre, Chef Jam Melchor who joined us in the Terra Madre 2016, plus other young chefs, culinary graduates, and foodies who simply want to be part of it for their personal advocacy and fulfillment.

Chef Jam Melchor and DA staff prepared Pinoy dishes for sampling to the international crowd. See the Bringhe with Luyang Dilaw at the foreground?

This year at Terra Madre, happening September 20-24 at the Lingotto in Turin, Italy I hope new members and communities will join us. Already our ECHOstore partner/licensee Sarah Claudio of Davao City has signified interest to be part of Slow Food. I hear Chef Rica Buenaflor of Bicol also wants to be part of it. JR Kapunan, a new “farmer enrolee”, will soon join our Slow Food Hunter Valley councilor Amorelle Demspter in Australia, prior to hopefully joining Slow Food Youth in Italy (under the Philippine group, of course).

What does it take to be a Slow Food member/advocate? Just believe in the philosophy of Good, Clean and Fair food then sign up with a group of like-minded friends. Join us on August 2-3 in WOFEX at SMX.

We will be part of the Philippine Sustainable Gastronomy event. We will also find time to meet the delegates to Terra Madre. There are about almost 15 delegates as we speak. The Department of Agriculture (DA) will definitely be there to have a Philippine stand to display our Slow Food Ark of Taste discoveries: Adlai, Kapeng Barako, Heirloom rice, rare fish, endangered varieties of fruits and edible flowers, and many more that we have listed in the “Ark”.

Slow Food promotes biodiversity through the cataloguing of species which may soon disappear if we stop eating them, using them and planting them.

Why should we care really? Watch the Bee Movie, an animation movie that says so much about Biodiversity and why we need it.

Why should we even join Slow Food? Watch Food Inc. on YouTube. Watch What the Health?

If you are eating today, thank a farmer. If you want to eat tomorrow, be a farmer. Join Slow Food.

 

 

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