Legarda advocates for youth participation in Philippine culinary development

April 6, 2024

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda emphasized the role of Filipino youth in the continued development, preservation, and promotion of local cuisine.

Addressing attendees during the opening of the celebration of Filipino Food Month in Mabalacat, Pampanga, on Friday, Legarda said, “I do believe that it will be youth and the children who need to go back to their roots, rediscover our native and indigenous cuisine, revive local traditions, preserve food biodiversity, and bring back Filipino food onto our plates.”

Legarda seeks to codify this endeavor through the nation’s policies and laws with Senate Bill No. 244, or the proposed Philippine Culinary Heritage Act, which seeks to cultivate and sustain understanding of our cultural identity through the preservation of food heritage, promoting traditional ingredients and cooking methods.

The bill also includes the documentation of essential culinary mapping, which will involve tallying the culinary techniques and cuisines of indigenous peoples. It also promotes food education through a paradigm shift in shaping behavior, leading to healthier eating habits and patronage of local produce.

While the demand for Filipino cuisine is currently robust, Legarda also reminded people of the perils of the gastronomic industry as a whole.

“We cannot ignore the truth that along with food production, there are issues of ecosystem destruction, food waste, and the extremes of either hunger and malnutrition or obesity and ill health,” lamented Legarda.

“Our food choices can influence how food is cultivated, produced, and distributed, leading to consequential changes in the food system,” she added.

“We do this by eating local and seasonal rather than imported, by growing our own food, by supporting small family farmers and markets, and by wasting less food,” she continued.

Legarda also praised the importance of food in shaping national identity, as Filipino cuisine is gaining popularity on the world stage.

“A fistful of sampaloc in our soup, a nip of sili in patis, even a whiff of the vinegar that rises from Adobo; these carry snippets of memory—a time, and a place. It is an essential part of our identity. It tells the story of our people,” remarked the four-term senator.

Pending in the Senate is Senate Bill No. 240, or the proposed Zero Food Waste Act, which intends to promote food waste reduction through redistribution and recycling.

Also in the legislative pipeline is Senate Bill No. 239, or the Food Forest Gardening Act, which aims to introduce low-maintenance food production through agroforestry.

If passed, it will help farmers construct productive farming communities, grow high-quality crops, and provide a source of income for both urban and rural communities.

Legarda concluded by urging mindful consumption practices, emphasizing the need to understand the broader narrative behind our food.

“While we can enjoy the richness and diversity of our food, we also have to know the story behind what we eat: the plight of our farmers, the loss of food biodiversity, the standardization of food by global supply chains, and the fragile state of our culinary heritage,” she said. (30)