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!