Food Security and Farmers Conference in 2019: Notes from Food. Farming.Freedom

When we trace our relationship with food systems to farmers, the concerns of a chef who needs to source and showcase Filipino produce can seem no different from that of a parent who wants to feed the family. Or of young professionals who are hungry for ways to support social change, educators of young children, or advocates for nutrition and fitness. This apparent web was tackled head on at a farming and food security conference that our team helped organize.

Last October 26, 2019, the Good Food Community team coordinated with different groups to put up the Food. Farming. Freedom conference. The goal of the conference was to tackle the complexities faced by farmers in relation to food security in the Philippines.

The day-long event was held at the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo De Manila University. It was organized in cooperation with MASIPAG, Bread of Freedom, and Me and My Veg Mouth. 

Making food systems work for the public

Dr. Chito Medina of MASIPAG presented on how the private sector often controls the food system, resulting in unsustainability for the public sector. During his Q&A, he also demonstrated how our investigation of the challenges around rice should include the politicization of the processes involved in producing it. Complexities around processes like milling are often overlooked by individuals, households or small to medium businesses, especially those in urban centers.

On Community Shared Agriculture

Good Food Community’s very own Charlene Tan also spoke at the conference. She shared the story of what inspired her to start the social enterprise. She talked about the challenges encountered by the team including operations and delivery, and the challenges encountered by the farmers like documentation. Char also shared how today, GFC’s Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) has helped alleviate the financial challenges of farmers and their families while engaging consumers – both children and adults – about where our food comes from. During her Q&A, she helped answer a question on how chefs and the Food & Beverage sector can consistently source local produce.

A taste of local produce

The snacks and lunches served during the conference aimed to showcase our local fruits and vegetables. They were prepared by partner home cooks and chefs — one of whom was the son of a MASIPAG farmer. Some of the meals included sticky rice, turmeric rice adlai with Asian aromatics, banana heart adobo with sprouted black beans and kulitis and more.

Taking the next steps

After lunch, attendees were able to break out into groups to deep dive into actionable workshops where they can brainstorm on how to apply learnings from the farmers conference. 

Asha Peri of Kids BeLeaf! facilitated one on promoting plant-centered education in pre-schools. She talked about creating lesson plans and activities that teachers and school administrators can use to teach kids about how to plant vegetables, how farmers produce food, and how to prepare meals.

Lakapati Basa of The Real Happy Cow (a resident merchant at Good Food Sundays) ran a group session on bringing plant-based meals and alternatives to the home.

There were groups that talked about the negative impact of genetically modified rice in the country that align with discussions on rice tarification laws. 

Earlier in the conference, policy expert Maria Fatima “Jofti” Villena presented some of the factors affecting food systems and how consumers can support change. In the afternoon, she led a group in discussing consumer rights and how to exercise them.

The GFC team also facilitated a session on starting a CSA with in-depth discussions on working with small-scale farms.

Learn about how you can support Community Shared Agriculture initiatives with Good Food Community while sourcing local vegetables for your household.

You can also partner with us in bringing local produce to your restaurant, fitness clients or school.  With your influence, we can bring more farmers and consumers together.


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