It will be our second time to join the Asia Pacific Conference of Slow Food which is being held in Korea. People who have heard about the slow food advocacy we have are unsure about what we do at these events. So I thought it would best to continue writing about slow food (SF) in the hopes of attracting more people in joining our movement.
In Korea, we expect the SF founder Carlo Petrini and Executive Director Paolo Di Croce to give their welcoming speeches to our mostly North Asian crowd. There will be four days of Taste Workshops where we will learn about the alternative ways of preserving biodiversity in the culinary scene and in farming methods. Who knows, if I tasted ten kinds of prosciutti in Italy, maybe I will learn about ten kinds of Kimchi in Korea.
So why is it important for the Department of Agriculture(DA) to support such exhibitions like Slow Food? On one end, we preserve heirloom ingredients like Heirloom rice, Kadyos, Barako coffee, Criollo Cacao and even Adlai (Job’s tears) among 30 plus products we have enrolled in the global ‘Ark of Taste’. The other end would be the export of commodities like dried mangoes and other value added products to USA and Europe and the Middle East. That’s not Slow Food though.
Slow Food (www.slowfood.com)is promoting first of all good, clean and fair food. Our food system is so broken that children grow up not knowing where food comes from, buy cheap processed food and get sick in the process. Children do not even know chicken other than fried chicken and fish other than fish fillet. We need to educate not only our young but also the older ones who do not eat clean and safe food.
Second concern of slow food is our disappearing plant and animal species. Our plants are now genetically-modified and we are losing most of heirloom varieties in the interest of increasing yields. Everything promoted for scale use fertilizers and pesticides to yield more rice, more corn , more of everything—all of which make food cheap. Initially, that is. Eventually, food becomes expensive because of handling, logistics, freight and storage. The consumer is at the short end of the stick unless he or she grows his or her own food.
To preserve our dying and endangered species, Slow Food has the Ark Of Taste (www.arkoftaste.org), a collection of the world’s produce which is being threatened by non-use. If we stop eating heirloom rice, the farmer stops producing it. Then it will slowly disappear. If we register it in Ark of Taste, the whole world will know we have such a specie here and we may help each other promote it.
The Filipino chefs and foreign chefs in Manila have answered our call for new uses of the old species. Chef Gaita Fores uses Adlai in her special Risotto. Chef Robby Goco uses vegetables and meats from trusted sources practicing Slow Food Principles. Chef Chele Gonzalez uses Heirloom rice for his paella and he swears it is like the old Spanish rice variety he grew up eating. Chef JP Anglo uses Batuan from Bacolod to make his Kansi sour.
Other chefs have discovered Sua or TabonTabon which makes Cagayan de Oro’s Kinilaw taste so delicious. Souring agents do not come in a little box you throw into your soup. They are grown by farmers who have been using these heirloom ingredients from a long time ago. We need to preserve them and keep using them to keep them alive.
Beyond the preservation of endangered species, Slow Food also wants us to eat good and clean food like meat from grass-fed cows, pastured pigs and real free range foraging chickens. We need to know the sources of these meats to be sure.
Nicolo Aberasturi and wife Paula are active members of SF Manila because they are biodynamic farmers practicing SF principles in their Down To Earth business.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more about Slow Food and how you can be part of saving our biodiversity while eating healthy and well.
To be continued next week…
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City and Antipolo 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 and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org