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Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda Terra Madre Salone del Gusto Slow Food in the Philippines Summit 13 October 2020

October 14, 2020

Good morning to all. First, allow me to extend my gratitude to Slow Food Movement Manila for giving me the chance to speak before you today. It would have been an enjoyable experience for us to personally gather and celebrate, but I also welcome the fact that we are holding this discussion online with minimal carbon footprint.

The current pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of food supply chains to shocks, threatening the food and nutritional security of Filipinos. Income losses have reduced people’s access to food while disruption of supply chains have hampered physical access to and availability of food.

I have tackled these issues in the weekly online series on sustainability called “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways,” which I host with the Climate Change Commission and partners from civil society. Our episodes on backyard gardening, urban farming, and plant doctors seek to encourage households, schools, and communities to grow their own food. We have stressed the importance of preserving local food and culinary heritage through sustainable diets. We promoted permaculture and saving seeds to protect plant biodiversity, reconnect people with food production, and make communities self-sufficient in food.

Last year, I filed House Bill No. 637 or the Food Forest Gardening Act in the House of Representatives. This seeks to establish food forest gardens in any parcel of land, public parks and spaces, unutilized and idle public land, community or common spaces of land developments, portions of rural farms, urban housing projects, idle parcels of land in schools, colleges and universities, and yards of households.

The bill aims to (1) introduce low maintenance food production through agroforestry, (2) maximize land use and provide a significant source of income for urban and rural communities,  and (3) utilize idle lands and create beautiful living spaces.

Aside from food production, we need to tackle sustainable food consumption. Food is both a victim and a cause of the climate crisis, ecological collapse, and other global crises.

We need to correct our hyperconsumeristmindset, which is killing our planet. There is a need to recognize, rediscover, and continue the practice of sustainability in our lives.

We may not be fully aware that our food consumption is related to energy use. When food has to travel through a great distance before it reaches the consumer’s table, it certainly utilizes more energy for transportation and preservation, leading to greater carbon emissions.  

Low-carbon living means patronizing local, plant-based, and in-season foods. As individuals, we can purchase fresh local foods from farmer markets and food supplies from the local market.  Or why not plant our fruits and vegetables in our own backyards?

Many of us may not realize that the kind of food we eat matters when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions.

Globally, an estimated 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are associated with meat consumption.  Eating lower on the food chain can reduce this impact.  Likewise, communities can try to be self-sufficient by producing local food and organic fertilizers, as well as promote home-based food industries.

For example, Gulayan at Bulaklakan ng Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City promotes urban and organic farming using segregated and recycled materials from the solid waste facility of the barangay. The kitchen wastes are collected by eco-volunteers and made into organic compost. They have converted a vacant lot at the back of the barangay hall as an urban garden. These schemes address the lack of access to fresh food products and ensure food security, while promoting well-being and, I imagine, building better relationships among neighbors.

This is the very reason why I support the slow food movement. It advocates sustainable food produced by local entrepreneurs through just and environmentally friendly practices, with the products marketed through fair trade—as opposed to the highly industrialized, globalized production of processed food.

At the heart of the slow food movement in the Philippines is the preferential choice for food that is innately ‘good’—from the planting of seeds up to harvesting, to the preparation of food, including its packaging, marketing, and delivery– the whole process, which harnesses local skills, is ethical, righteous, and respectful to the environment and the labor put into it.

The slow food advocacy envisions a world that embraces a process of food production that is good for humanity and the planet.

I also commend the slow food movement advocacy to protect biodiversity, first by encouraging the swapping of seeds from the different regions in the country, as well as preserving traditional and indigenous Filipino knowledge.

Aside from our flora and fauna, the traditional knowledge of our farmers, fisherfolks, and indigenous groups is also part of our country’s biodiversity. To protect our biodiversity is to preserve all our plant varieties, animal breeds, history, knowledge, and culture.

In closing, I challenge you to make slow food mainstream and lead the practice of a low-carbon and sustainable lifestyle.

Let us continue to reduce our “foodprints”, lead the way towards meaningful change, make a difference for the planet– our common home, and our common future.

Thank you.