Beans for Peace

beans.jpg

These white beans, red beans and black beans come from an interesting and ambitious project. The people of Tinglayen, Kalinga are historically warring tribes. Over several generations, they had gradually cleared (and not reforested) their mountain areas so that they could see their enemies from far away. It’s been many years since the last skirmish and failing upland ecosystems could threaten them all wholesale. Recognizing the opportunity for socio-environmental renewal, our partner E-care foundation proposed that the communities plant trees to represent and foster the peace that now exists. But at present, the biggest threat is the erosion of culture and community as the working population seeks livelihood in city centers. The project thus proposed the cultivation of traditional beans between the trees with a guarantee of purchase upon harvest and a rice loan to tide them over the lean months. Hectares and hectares were thus reforested and planted upon, and hundreds of families from three communities in Besao, Botbot and Bugnay were given some livelihood. Today these beans represent the possibility of regenerating our forests and mountains, our peoples and communities. Replanting these beans could herald a new time of peace, between us and for generations to come.

For Igorots, beans are reserved for special occasions and cooked in hospitality for guests. A traditional recipe would be to boil it with pata or etag, some wombok, cabbage or leafy green and some ginger. A vegetarian version would be to boil it, then saute with onions, garlic, ginger and tomato. “That’s it.” Add some beans to your tampipi while supplies last!

Citrus Peel Economics

by Asha Peri

citrus products

What is the economics behind these citrus peels?
1 kg of lemon is P250 and 1 kg of dayap is P180. 1 cup of juice amounts to around P200. I use the juice for my plant-based food projects, both sweet and savoury. I ordered 7 kg of lemons and dayap combined and I didn’t have the heart to throw away the organic peels which contains all the volatile oils prized by essential oil manufacturers. They were also very fragrant! After zesting each lemon/dayap, I left the cut peels in the fridge to dry a bit for 2 days then I made 2 cleanser variants – half of the peels was fermented with sugar for 5 days and the other half was pickled in white vinegar for 2 weeks. Using around 2 kg of peels including 1/8 kg of calamansi peels which I was saving incrementally from my morning drink, I was able to make 10 liters worth of this natural cleansing agent that only required 3 ingredients (citrus, vinegar, sugar). The vinegar cost around P350 and the sugar cost around P50.

I use an organic local odor buster and sanitizer which cost around P450 per litre, diluted in a 1:5 ratio. This lasts me for around 3 months. Not bad, but if I compare it with my DIY citrus cleanser, 1 liter would only amount to P150 since it would still be diluted to 1:3.

Why was this all worth explaining? Because I see the lemon as a symbol of my own empowerment to break free from the big corporations that commercialize and monetize on our natural resources to create either cheap but toxic products or organic products that are too expensive and unsustainable to continue buying. If I think about the production systems (which are necessary in big industry) that involve monocultures, factory machines constantly running on fossil fuels, throw-away packaging, storage, transport, delivery and shipping – wow, this chain is what’s causing precious land from becoming critical farm sites to feed an overpopulated world, what’s keeping the fossil fuel industry alive and lucrative, and what’s driving consumerist behaviour to thrive even more.

Responding to the climate crisis requires radical changes in our lifestyle. To make peace with the earth, there is a need to start seeing the potential in the lemons of our lives – how can we continually maximize our outputs and outcomes from a small thing that can offer its juice, its zest, its potential to replace products we normally buy that hide their unsustainable effects in the environment with all the cute and awesome branding and marketing? Before throwing away something, it’s good to think about how we can extend its use to give us maximum benefit.

I have used the fermented citrus cleanser to remove stubborn odors and it’s very effective! The diluted citrus-vinegar can be used as a floor and bathroom cleaner, surface cleaner, degreaser and to remove stains from dishes, all without the vinegar-y smell since the citrus already tamed the strong acidic smell. Pretty soon I will make my own vinegar as well once I’ve properly set up my fermentary in Calaca.

The Ecology of Food goes beyond food. It also involves using food waste as a resource that can benefit us and the environment in a healthy way.

For me, non-toxic means less than 5 ingredients in my products using ingredients that are safe to put in my mouth. 2-3 ingredients guys. Try it!

A Meditation on Vegetables

by Asha Peri

A most productive and meditative morning spent interacting with all the veggies from Good Food Community‘s tampipi. Subscribing to a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) basket means that you let go of expectations and you trust that nature will give what is good for you because your veggies are harvested in perfect timing. What you can expect though are an assortment of bahay kubo veggies and those lovely leeks:) When we subscribe to this way of procuring our produce, we don’t force nature to work harder just because we need something in our menu that is out of season. Yes, you never really know what you’ll get until you open your basket! This week’s harvest has given us a lot of GREENS! These leafy greens and veggie fruits perish easily so it’s wise to use them immediately.

67263164_10218799676804186_4901090758896910336_n

These photos are a glimpse of my intuitive process in the kitchen – I chop everything first then I figure out what to do with them (this means no one should talk to me while cooking). Sometimes I already have something in mind but planning takes more time so it’s good to patiently cultivate a more intuitive cooking process which takes less effort over time as one develops a deeper connection with food. Since I anticipated that I won’t be able to cook tomorrow because of the Thai class, I made several dishes to last me and mom until tomorrow’s dinner.

Let’s keep things real. Instagram food posts take a lot of time to set up and I’m sure a lot of the ingredients go to waste (trust me, I’ve witnessed and experienced the process). Our everyday food is composed mostly of what is available on hand and what is leftover that we don’t want to go to waste, and we cook mostly simple dishes that are resonant to our Pinoy palate. Instead of relying fully on online recipes to create a menu, it takes less resources over time to work with what’s already given while looking at others’ recipes to give us ideas on how to use them.

For breakfast, I made stir-fried snow peas with garlic, nuts and homemade sesame oil (I love it when the snow peas become crunchy and glossy after cooking!) eaten with black rice. For lunch, I made a veggie masala using okra, eggplant, kalabasa and string beans which I paired with fermented rice-monggo pancakes (a once a week staple), adobo with lots of leeks, banana heart, shitake mushrooms, lots of talbos and some leftover alugbati and black beans. For dinner, I made mac and cheese using leftover potato-carrot cheese mixed with fermented cashew cream, topped with fresh parsley and coconut “bacon” and baked at low heat for 30 minutes. (I actually rarely use pasta since I decided to minimize on any ingredient that comes in plastic and that is not produced locally but I also recognize that for as long we do not abuse our consumption of non-local products, then it’s okay to have for variety once in a while – which is like once a month for me.) Lastly, I made a simple ginataang gulay dish using sayote, kalabasa, patola and lots of ginger. I rarely eat ice cream but there was a bunch of saba in the basket which I didn’t think I’d eat on its own so I decided to blend them all into a “nice cream” topped with chocolate-tahini sauce.

No gulay wasted! All gulay cooked while they were still fresh. Food to nourish my household for 2 days without the stress.
While freshly cooked food is best, I love the idea of batch cooking on those days when I don’t have the luxury of time to cook every day.

Charlene of Good Food says that she envisions a world where we become co-producers of the food that we consume through their CSA – food grown by their partner farmers, who are mostly women. When we develop a relationship with the entire community that grows our food and that helps to ensure and expand food access, we nourish and sustain that community to thrive, and they become even more inspired to create better food for us. As co-producers, we create the demand for healthy food. Being plant-based means I demand more veggies on my plate that are not made in a lab or a factory, but are grown in a farm where microorganisms and pollinators are considered as important components of the plant and soil ecosystems (that means no chemicals and petroleum-based fertilizers!). There is a global movement to make the invisible more visible, to understand how the entire food web works, to have the assurance that the food was grown with the eater in mind, to ensure that every farming input, process and output is life-based, to feel that everything in nature is treated with a deep compassion and reverence for the interconnectedness of the web of life. “When you eat, you participate in agriculture.” (author unknown)