In August, four years after introducing the Ark of Taste, the Slow Food community in the Philippines converged once again on the biggest food show in the Philippines, World Food Expo (Wofex), to engage farmers, chefs and consumers in interesting discussions about sustainability.
The two-day event covered various topics like Voting with your Fork, Slow Travel, Ark of Taste, and Conscious Carnivore. Slow Food members and advocates were invited to share their knowledge on heritage breeds, making local cheese, and raising free-range chicken.
The Ark of Taste panel moderated by Slow Food Manila member Reena Francisco featured Iloilo’s Tibong Jardeleza, who has preserved Ilonggo cooking traditions; Proudly Promdi’s Ken Alonso, who uses Bignay and Tapuy in his cocktails; and a new convivium in Bicol, to be led by Rica Buenaflor, brought other ways of preserving tradition to the fore. Rica brought her ‘Best of Bicol’ friends and aims to form a community soon.
it is not just about Ark of Taste or Slow Food convivia, however, the Slow Food community has grown, other talks included Waste Not, Want Not—a lively discussion on reducing food waste, and how restaurants and individuals can contribute to UN SDGs and Sustainable Production and Consumption.
The other new panel for this event is about Slow Travel, which had Jeepney Tours’ Clang Garcia moderating, and no less than the Regional Director of the Dept. of Tourism (DOT) Cordillera Venus Tan, presenting The Mountain Partnership and how Slow Food can get involved. Celebrated author Ige Ramos, a very active Slow Food Member, was also on the panel. Cathy Turvill, Tourism Council of Cavite, also gave her example of Slow Travel through her farm tourism model.
The next day brought the meat producers—chicken, beef, and pork breeders were joined by cheesemakers, and interviewed by peers and by TV personality Ces Drilon, who spoke about greenhouse gas emissions, reducing carbon footprints, and the lack of cold chain facilities for small farmers, advocating for “buying local”.
To wrap up the discussions, Jen Viloria of Iisla Ventures moderated the final panel asking hotels, schools and restaurants about their next steps and plans for the future. Chef See of Enderun Colleges spoke about “loving your own” as part of a campaign to “love local”, using Filipino ingredients in gastronomy. Margarita Fores, Asia’s best chef, and a Slow Food Negros original chimed in that Filipinos have grown “patriotic” over the last ten years, a fact clearly demonstrated as Filipino cuisine has been making waves in New York, London and other places where migrant Filipinos have settled. Second generation migrants, who have become chefs and restaurateurs are invigorating the Filipino restaurant trend abroad.
Each panel was diverse in age, gender and occupation. “The farmers,” explained Eric Atanacio of Terra Verde Farms, “suffer when consumers waste food. It takes us a long time to grow each leaf, each grain. If you don’t want to waste anything, be a farmer, grow your own food.” He went on to explain that farmers can make compost, and grow more plants, and how it is possible for nothing to go to waste in a farm.
To round out proceedings, Slow Food Manila’s Pacita Juan, now also SF Councillor for Southeast Asia, wrapped up the discussions:
“Eating is a political and agricultural act. Vote with your fork, your spoon or your hands” (eating without cutlery is still a common practice in many parts of the Philippines especially for seafood and home meals). The consumer has the power to change laws, change mindsets and change culture through the Slow Food Principles of good, clean and fair.