Embracing slow food

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Chit-JuanBack in 2007, a few friends and I started a “Live Green” movement to start saving energy, and to start advocating for cleaner air, a cleaner planet and generally, advocate for green and blue—green earth, blue waters. Or blue skies. We even used clouds as a backdrop for a panel in a CSR exhibit, which other people found odd at that time.

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That is the price first-movers have to pay. People may find your idea odd, out of the ordinary or downright weird. I explained that using power strips could help you save phantom loads of electricity. I explained that reusing real cups rather than styro or paper cups was more earth-friendly.

In 2008, my ECHOstore partners and I went full blast into this advocacy. Live Green. Then reduce, reuse, recycle. Now, they have added: Repurpose.  Upcycle.  All referring to conserving our resources for a better world.

Then we started to grow our own food in our humble little farm in Amadeo, Cavite. We were looking for organically grown vegetables and had a difficult time telling one vendor from another. “Let’s grow it ourselves then!” we told each other.

Besides growing food in our backyard, we started to check out how chickens were grown and visited nearby Manuel Pedro Farms. Agnes, our mentor and neighbor, also had native pigs, which would become the “lechon” or pork chop at Antonio’s. Then we learned about dory or cream dory. Then we found out the difference between air-dry chilling chickens rather than submerging them in chlorinated water (bleach).

Finally, we met Marietta Paragas of Cordillera Network who asked us why we were not yet part of “Slow Food.” I read up and found out about the movement—how it advocates for good, clean and fair food. And is this not what we all want to have?

“Cool,” my partners and I thought. There is a name for what we are doing, and it’s called “slow food.”

I first thought it was just about buying local so we could lessen our carbon footprint. But other than buying local, it was also buying quality.

Buying artisanal (yes, people abuse the word or term) or produced by small farmers or producers. Buying what the farmer will eat and provide for his family. Not what he will usually sell in the market, which may be the tainted ones.

Even for coffee, the farmer keeps the best for himself and sells the others. Same with fruits like pineapple, banana or anything doubtfully sprayed with pesticide and injected with growth hormones. The same with milk. What milk shall we give our children besides breast milk? Will rice milk give them the same protein? How about goat’s milk? Why should it be better than cow’s milk, which can be cheaper and easier to get?

And so our journey continued until we got to Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin, Italy in late 2012. There, we saw the whole movement of farmers, producers and artisans (again, that abused word) sample their food. Talks at workshops, demos of bread making, wine tasting, sea salt and butter sampling, and even sharing of stories about root crops and tropical fruits and vegetables. Five days of immersion and you become a convert. Then you sign up as a member of the worldwide movement to save diversity through preservation of food and livestock across the continents.

This coming week, we will show you a snippet of what this movement can mean to chefs, cooks, and foodies. On August 7 at World Food Expo, Slow Food Philippines will hold a seminar as an introduction to slow food. We will also have a stand to showcase Philippine fruits and vegetables that may soon go extinct or just disappear from the face of the Earth in the Ark of Taste.  We have invited chefs and slow food Philippines members to share what they are doing to preserve our heirloom rice, for example. Or our indigenous “batuan”(souring agent for kansi), or our ever-popular siling labuyo.

Come and listen so you, too, can help embrace the movement, which will preserve our culture as a people, sustain our diverse flora and fauna, and help keep our Filipino culture distinct and something to be proud of.

And if you feel one with us, join us in Turin, Italy on October 23 to 27, and feel one with the world of Slow Food.

For more information, log on to www.slowfood.it.

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra, Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is president of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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