RIMAS? My sister Beth and brother-in-law Sid were visiting from San Francisco and were on a hunt for a fruit called Rimas.
I remember eating this many years ago. Our mother would make sweetened Rimas for dessert, or Beth, my sister would buy it from Kim Chong Tin Bakery in Quiapo. Today, they combed all of Greenhills (known for selling all these Chinese delicacies) and came back empty-handed.
I explained to Sid that when the market does not look for it anymore, the farmer stops producing it. Everyone is a co-producer. If no one knows of Rimas or Kondol (a similar candy from a gourd family vegetable), you will no longer find it in the markets. Especially with the Asean Community (AEC) coming up, we will be flooded with Thailand sampalok, guavas, jackfruit and many more tropical fruits.
This December 10, we celebrated Terra Madre Day as part of the Slow Food movement. Terra Madre celebrates local farmers, local food and preserving local fruits, grains and other produce we know to be indigenous and coming from heirloom varieties. Sid asked me to look for Rimas and try to preserve it.
For our part, we also looked for heirloom corn from Cebu to plant at ECHOfarms. I am such a fan of white native corn but I remember the Japanese sweet corn variety overtaking the vendors along Katipunan Ave. many years ago. Our white native corn has a different flavor and somehow my DNA likes it better than yellow corn.
Furthermore, we started selling heirloom rice in ECHOstore. We got several shipments from our farmer friends, Lam-eng Gonnay, Jimmy Lingayo and Manny Onolan from Kalinga and we vacuum packed them so the organic pests will not have a chance to eat ahead of us.
People seem to like the Unoy and Ulikan varieties we ordered from the farmers. Thanks to Sunshine Molintas of Department of Trade and Industry in Cordillera for patching us up. And thanks to Vicky Carlos Garcia (rice queen) for egging Jimmy to give us part of their harvest.
Next, we also serve local meats, butter and chicken among others in our ECHOcafe, making our local farmers sustainable. Even the guava jelly that goes into our salad dressings promote local farmers. You can even enjoy local cheese from Mambos or Malagos and Department of Agrarian Reform-assisted small producers of KesongPuti (white carabao cheese) in Laguna and Quezon.
Yes, we are up against imports from Asean neighbors, USA and Europe. But someone’s got to do it. If even in our small way, through our café, artisans have a role to play in our promotion of local food.
Locavorism (person interested in eating food that is locally produced) not only helps the environment (less carbon footprint), it also helps small producers get out of the poverty hole and become sustainable enterprises even if they cannot scale up, as most exporters will tell them to.
Terra Madre Day is just a reminder for all and everyone to still protect the small farmer. To serve local food whenever we can. To promote local produce by including them in our dishes.
It is a celebration of heirloom and indigenous species that were growing on our lands even before we saw light. This is why we need to eat and buy local if farmers are to survive and keep on planting.
Terra Madre Day does not have to be just one day. We can keep looking for our heirloom varieties and enroll them in the Ark of Taste (www.slowfood.com/terramadre).
Why is all these important? Because someday, like my brother Sid, you will look for Rimas or maybe even singkamas, and you may not find it anymore.
Let’s all do our part to save our favorites—kamias, kadyos, sampalok, and rimas. What’s your favorite fruit or vegetable? Maybe a grain like millet or kabog? Heirloom rice from the Cordillera? Duhat, masanitas, and ratiles. I can go on and on.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium, Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan ,Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.