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November 23, 2019

DON’T PANIC, IT’S ORGANIC?

But is it really organic? If you will pay just a little extra it may as well be really organic. I asked a friend who’s vegetarian where she gets her vegetables and she replied: “from the grocery!”. I was quite surprised that she did not have a regular delivery of organic vegetables which is now the trend for many purists like her.

My mantra has always been: “Visit the farm. Find out how they grow their veggies”. After all, we all want a little fresh air sometimes, a little sunshine while checking the sources of our organic produce. That for me is traceability.

ECHOfarm

Over the years, we visited Fresh Start organic farms in Negros, Ron or Onnie Duterte’s farm in Cebu, and Miggy Miguel’s organic farm in Arakan Valley, near the Bukidnon-Davao road. We also went to Dahilayan where Down To Earth’s Nicolo Aberasturi grows his vegetables. That’s what we do before we open yet another ECHOcafe. We make sure our partners have farmer-partners to ensure a steady supply of organic vegetables.

It’s not just about certification. It’s about traceability. I once brought Ravi and Rashmi Singh (pure vegetarians) to our ECHOfarms and we ate off the plots—picking arugula and lettuce as we walked around the place. That made my heart full—a wonderful wellness couple eating my produce and I believe they loved it.

Certification, I believe, is a journey. Many companies have been certified and many farmers have also participated in the program to be certified (mostly for export markets). But local consumers are getting more careful about what they pay for.

Now let’s do the math. People always complain or remark that organic is more expensive. Simple reason: since organic yields less per hectare, it is, of course, priced higher than mass-produced from industrial agriculture. What can one do? Do the math. Would you rather eat the bulk of what you don’t know or eat a little less of what you are sure of? I always tell our friends: “you cannot finish a kilo of lettuce in one meal anyway”. And when people complain and compare prices of organic vs. conventional, I ask them to change mindsets. Why deprive yourself of good and clean food (P350 a kilo) yet pay P350 for a salad (approx. 200 grams) whose origins you are not sure of?

Vegetables from Migui’s farm

“When the student is ready, the teacher will come,” I quote from Buddha. When the person gets hit by cancer or a stroke, they usually hear from their doctor –‘change your diet’. The diet means eating healthy, safe, and clean. That is organic.

When people discover the sweet natural taste of organic, they will look for this particular taste than the vegetables that have a scent or taste of petrochemicals. Try it. Buy some organic pechay (might be the cheapest for trial) and ordinary non-organic pechay. You may be surprised at the difference in taste.

Convinced? Now try lettuce, tomatoes, then fruits. You will find that the sweetest fruits are small and not the GMO kind that are huge, too sweet, and seedless. But sometimes people like those fruits because they are convenient to eat. They have no seeds, big, and value for money—but tastes different.

In other Asian countries, try the local fruits. They are small and sweet, just like the bananas and papayas from our farm. They come in all shapes and sizes but all are sweet, naturally.

So, don’t panic but do your math and your taste test. You may just find that you have wanted organic but never got to compare or contrast fruits and vegetables. Even Philippine coffee is naturally organic by default.

Don’t panic. Eat organic.

 

 

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