By Angel B. Dukha III

The struggle to heal the food and farming systems does not depend on a single person, but on the collective effort of organizations, especially in connecting farmers to the consumer market.

Food. Farming. Freedom. (FFF) encouraged people to focus on the farmer-food web with the help of the community and its people.

“(FFF aims) to strengthen the food and farming connections. Today we had presentations from various food justice advocates who raised all the critical issues from our food system and how to heal this broken systems. We also wanted to strengthen the power of community through direct collaborations with chefs and farmers and basically community solidarity, coming together to speak as one voice about what’s happening in our food system and how we can create more lasting sustainable solutions to these problems,” plant-based chef and instructor Asha Peri from Ecology of Food and Bread of Freedom said.

Dr. Jennifer de la Rosa (left) giving her lecture and Asha Peri (right) listening.

Peri talked about the two food systems: the industrial food chain and small scale farmers. She shared how the latter actually provides food to people around the world and not big farmer corporations, adding that it is possible to solely rely on organic small-time farmers. 

Dr. Jennifer de la Rosa, a practicing doctor specializing in integrative medicine, shared knowledge on how the two food systems impact health and well-being and advised people to always be cautious what they put on their bodies. 

Policy expert and activist Maria Fatima “Jofti” Villena discussed about the different factors which affect the food system and how people can help reorganize the system to benefit not only a select few but the greater majority. 

MASIPAG scientist Dr. Chito Medina spoke about how private companies gain control of the food system leading to unsustainable and impractical practices for the public. 

Karla Delgado and Amena Bal of Kai Farms inspired people on the peaceful activism of seed saving to combat corporatization of the food system. Together with them was Kalinga farmer Manuel Onalan who shared his insights on the farmers plight.

Organic and vegan dishes by plant-based chefs.

Charlene Tan of Good Food Community (GFC) talked about community supported agriculture (CSA) as an avenue which promotes a food system that benefits both small-scale farmers and consumers. 

Call-to-action workshops were offered such as: Kids BeLeaf! facilitated by Peri to promote plant-centered education in pre-schools and patronizing local, organic, and non-genetically modified organism (GMO) foods; GFC facilitated How to start your own CSA, where they shared their knowledge with working with small-scale farms and enabling others to start their own CSA; Save the World Starting with Your Plate 101 by Lakapati Basa of the Real Happy Cow who provided practical tips on plant-based meals and alternatives; and Defend Our Rice, Fight for Our Rights tackled the negative impact of genetically modified rice in the country and genuine agrarian reform while Consumers Unite! By Villena discussed consumer rights and how to exercise them.

Guests of the event were given the chance to taste featured organic and vegan dishes by plant-based chefs who directly work with farmers. 

The event was organized by BeLeaf kitchen, Green Peace, Bread of Freedom, Me & My Veg Mouth, MASIPAG, and Good Food Community with the support of Binhi.

“All of us have our own separate advocacies but we decided to have this bigger network so we can create greater change in this food farming system,” Peri said.

Food. Farming. Freedom. was held on Oct. 26 at the Cardinal Sin Center, Loyola School of Theology, Inc., Ateneo de Manila University.