Food. Shelter. Clothing. I remember growing up learning from school that these are our three basic needs. In this trinity, food is king for the very obvious reason that we will die without it. However, these days, with the proliferation of genetically-modified, chemically-manufactured, and highly-processed food, we can no longer say that what we are buying at the stores, and have been putting in our mouths, is safe.
The great news is we can grow our own food. Nothing is more empowering than growing your own food. The best way to make sure that we have good food is to grow it ourselves.
Have a Yard? Make a Food Garden.
If you are lucky enough to have access to land, consider growing your own food.
The photo above is a community food garden grown on a piece of land behind Laney College in Oakland, California. But you really do not need as big of a land like this (even a patio or a balcony would do!) to grow your own food garden. For places where land is scarce, there’s urban permaculture. The idea is to maximize the use of land or a space, grow plants and food. In so doing, not only do you get to recultivate your relationship with nature, you also get to bring life back to earth. Courses are even being offered for people to learn permaculture as a philosophy and as a way to live life, especially with what’s going on right now, ecologically-speaking. When you learn about permaculture, you learn how much else there is to learn.
I am unsure as to when permaculture started in the Philippines but what I know is that we have been doing agro-farming/organic gardening for as long as humans have lived in the archipelago. We visited two agro-forests/farms in Mindanao, Philippines, back in 2014 — both successful that they have become hubs for people who want to study the kind of sustainable farming that they do.
“We only invented the word organic because we made things inorganic.
We only invented the word natural because we made things unnatural.
We only invented the word permaculture because we made agriculture.”
– Khang Kijarro Nguyen
Most local farmers have always grown things naturally, even people who try to grow food in their own backyards do it as such, because we know that we would be harming the land if we do it otherwise. But of course, just as there are farmers who would go to the length of going on a hunger strike to rally against pesticides and GMOs, there would be others who are liberal and are willing to embrace science and the advancements that it brings. It’s strange to think though, that people here in the US are adopting our ways back home, while people back in the country want to embrace a certain kind of technology that more and more people here now are slowly and vehemently rejecting.
How about community-supported agriculture (CSA)?
If, however, like us, you don’t have land to grow your own food but would want to have access to fresh organics, you could also just sign up for a CSA.
So what is a CSA? CSA is a system wherein you get to buy fresh fruits and greens (and sometimes, even flowers!) direct from a farmer (or a group of farmers) in your local community. It is your ticket to having healthy food without having to spend tons of money, and if your CSA is like ours, you get to help your community too. After searching for CSA options here in the East Bay, we decided on Phat Beets, and we are in love!
So aside from getting some really fresh greens, what else do we love about CSA?
- It’s all about real good food.
- It’s all about helping the community.
- It’s all about buying local.
- It’s all about saving.
- It’s all about eating seasonally and understanding plant ecology.
You can even have a CSA box delivered to you (or you can pick it up!) at your convenience.
If you live in the US, Local Harvest has a directory of CSAs so you could check out one that’s nearest to you. In the Philippines, the best way to support community-scale agriculture is to buy fresh produce at the palengke and not at the large supermarkets. The meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables are often imported from other countries and are not nearly as fresh as locally produced food products. Local farmers can benefit when you by at the palengke, and you can save money by cutting out the middle-man.
There is a perception that the palengke is dirtier than supermarkets, but the food at supermarkets often sits out for much longer. I have often seen wilted vegetables and spoiled fish and meat at the fancy supermarkets because they sit on the shelves for a long time. Food at the palengke is usually replenished on a daily basis. I urge people to support local farmers and the local economy.
There is no more powerful way to do that than being conscious about what you put in your body. Eat food that is produced with love.