Local cuisine is fast gaining ground on the international stage. Filipino cuisine has been highlighted as one of the top reasons why people visit the country. Combining this with the fact that Filipinos are adventurous diners who are willing to try out almost anything, the local dining industry has become an essential selling point for the country’s growing tourism industry.
“Food is a tourist attraction that is available here in the Philippines all year-round”, said Ryan Sebastian, Tourism Operations Officer of the Department of Tourism.
However, this fascination for food does not come without any negatives. Food wastage is constantly a problem—Filipinos waste up to 308,000 tons of rice every year. Ironically, however, 2.7 million Filipino families have also reported going hungry in the first quarter of the current year.
“According to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report, we waste one-third of the food we produce annually. How much food is produced, and how much of the carbon footprint that goes into producing that food is out to waste – those impact climate change”, Romell Antonio Cuenca, Assistant Secretary and Deputy Executive Director of the Climate Change Commission said.
Due to high demand for certain ingredients, sourcing practices are also becoming more commercial, with less regard for where food comes from. As Filipinos continue to enjoy dining out in the years to come, they have to ensure that as responsible diners, the choices that they make will help the food service industry become more sustainable—so they can continue to enjoy the delicious food that they enjoy today. Eden Josephine David,
Assistant Secretary of the Department of Tourism, agrees with this sentiment. “If we are proud of what we have, we would promote it, patronize it, support it, sustain it, and all the more we will be able to enjoy it, not only now, but for the future.”
WWF-Philippines is working with the Filipino dining public, the government, the media, and the food service industry in leading the local dining scene towards sustainability. Since restaurant production and consumer dining choices both have the power to positively impact the food service industry, The Sustainable Diner: A Key Ingredient for Sustainable Tourism brought together these major stakeholders and created a platform where each sector shared their perspectives on how to further green the industry.
The project, supported by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, made commitments of partnership with its three partner cities: Quezon City, Tagaytay City, and Cebu City, and conducted panel and focus group discussions where participants were able to share their personal dining experiences and suggestions on how to make the food service industry more environmentally friendly.
“With The Sustainable Diner project, WWF-Philippines hopes to empower the Filipino dining public and the food service sector, and help them realize that their consumption and production choices have the power to transform the industry. With the support of the government and our media partners, we can all have productive and collaborative discussions on the changes we can implement in order to make the local dining scene more sustainable”,’ mentioned Joel Palma, President and CEO of WWF-Philippines.
By engaging and forging partnerships with organizations and individuals who are as enthusiastic when it comes to revolutionizing the way food is seen, prepared, and consumed, WWF-Philippines believes that together, it is possible to reduce food wastage, continue stimulating economic growth, and protect the natural resources that provide for every plate.