It takes three weeks or 21 days to adopt a new habit. Coming out of the 10-week lockdown, considered among if not the strictest and longest in the world, what do we find ourselves doing differently, what are we seeing differently?
To be honest, we thought we had a good sense of the challenges that our farmers and consumers face given the current food system. This awareness and the desire to help address these vulnerabilities animate the work of our community: the Good Food team, our farmers, and our subscribers and retail customers. However, this global pandemic and our society’s response have shown the shocking extent of the inequalities, the sharp, painful divisions that spelled sacrificing certain conveniences for some of the lucky ones, and acute hunger and grinding poverty for the greater majority we realized we have come to depend on to enjoy those conveniences.
There should be no doubt about it: despite the difficulties we face Good Food is among the luckier ones. We owe it to our community that we continue to be of service, from our hardworking, enterprising farmers to our conscientious subscribers and consumers who despite their own hurdles during the lockdown supported Good Food as we tried to get our bearings. We made adjustments to protect the team and ensure employment for everyone, but we still do a lot of things differently to make sure we’re able to fulfill our responsibilities and that people are fed. We also either discontinued or dialed back on certain activities to ensure everyone’s safety. We’d like to share with you some of the changes that will happen over the next quarter.
While Good Food Sundays has become a beloved routine for those interested in connecting with like-minded folks, supporting small and sustainable local producers, while enjoying delicious vegan food and drinks, we are not likely to open it anytime soon. Cases of coronavirus infections continue to rise with the easing of the lockdown and with it a false sense of security that comes with returning to a bit of normalcy. Admittedly we cannot in good faith open the market while there is little to no public health effort to flatten the curve and risk everyone’s exposure. As we are a small business that also depends on our income from Good Food Sundays, this was not an easy decision to make, but we are doing so in the interest of minimizing risk and ensuring people’s safety.
In lieu of the Community Kitchen and Farm Work Weekends, we are moving our lifestyle support online. We started with “Sprout Joy,” a collaboration with Muni Community and Forest Foundation Philippines. The meet-up featured our very own Gio Paolo Espital, who talked about growing our own vegetables, and Rina Teoxon Papio, founder and chief soilmate of Green Space, who talked about composting. These two home activities enjoyed a surge in interest during the quarantine. Creating good soil and growing our own food allowed us to reconnect with nature and the outdoors. More importantly, the ability to grow our own food was and will always be an active gesture of hope and agency in a time of constraint and great uncertainty. If you missed the meet-up, you can watch the recording here. What other food-related topics are you interested in? If you have ideas, let us know! You can email us here.
Our CSA, the heart of Good Food, continues to remain strong. We are now able to offer multi-week subscriptions, as operations become a little bit more predictable and diverse organic produce more available. And because CSA is about creating a better food system built on social justice, health and wellbeing, and ecological responsibility, we have been actively listening and participating in conversations and actions that will move this agenda forward, such as participating in the round table discussion on public health and recovery initiatives after the lockdown. We believe that this is what makes Good Food different. The work of providing food goes hand in hand with protecting everyone’s rights to it and promoting equitable access, and our partner farmers and subscribers choose to work with us and buy from us because they know they can contribute to the conversation through Good Food.
Therefore for those of you interested in learning more, here is a quick but comprehensive view of the state of food and agriculture in the Philippines given the pandemic. In Greenpeace’s three-part series, “A Better Normal,” we learned more about the actual challenges and hardships our food producers faced, the best practices of different local government units and civil society organizations (including Good Food!) to ensure food security of their stakeholders and communities, and the much-awaited dialogue between our food security front liners and government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, National Nutrition Council, National Economic Development Authority, Climate Change Commission, and the Office of Senator Kiko Pangilinan, the author of Sagip Saka Act. The three installments might be a bit long for some of you, but we find that it helps listening to them in the background as we prepare our meals for the day. It has made us better appreciate each ingredient, each produce we prepare for our loved ones.
Finally we hope to continue working on improving the access of urban poor communities to healthy, safe and affordable food. If there is one good thing that came out of this pandemic, it’s the fact that we have been able to work with this much-neglected sector through Lingap Maralita. Pre-Covid, we have often wondered how this was possible. When the pandemic struck, there was little room for overthinking or strategizing—we needed to act fast with friends and make sure people were fed. And now, what started as an immediate response to alleviate the hunger in two communities experiencing acute hunger in the early days of the lockdown transformed into a platform to demonstrate solidarity and interconnectedness. We look forward to turning this into a sustainable program for better, wider impacts, and we will share with you details once they have firmed up.
And so we would like to end this letter with a favor to ask: if you are a subscriber can you share the story of Filipino farmers and how community shared agriculture can help? Doing things differently can be very hard for many people—we like the comfort of our habits and routines. But sometimes we need new habits, new routines, new ways of thinking to recreate this world. We hope that the story of community shared agriculture will help us imagine a better normal for farmers and eaters—and if we can imagine it, we can create it.
May you and your loved ones be always safe and strong,
Char, Ernest, Joyce, Cara, Gio, Mabi, Ate Celia and Kuya Luis