It’s difficult being a small-scale farmer in the Philippines; it’s harder still being an organic farmer: Organic farming may be good for the earth, the community, and the consumers, but small-scale farmers are often discouraged by the time and effort it entails, the competition from big producers, and the unpredictable income. For the smaller players in the industry, sustainable farming and chemical-free production methods don’t necessarily translate to profits.
Organizations are helping find ways to break down these barriers by connecting farmers to consumers in innovative ways. One such group is Good Food Community, which makes a push for sustainability through a subscription system. Read on to learn more about their efforts, how you can help, and the benefits to you as a consumer and to the farmers.
Building a Community
Good Food Community was started by a group of people driven by a socially oriented cause. Its main thrust is Community Shared Agriculture, which turns consumers into co-producers and stakeholders in the food production system. All you need to do is subscribe and you get fresh, organic produce and other organic products in their catalogue each week.
The process is fairly simple: First, you go to their website and select from their offerings. Good Food Community has a range of fresh produce packages, such as:
- Gulay Pambahay, a 3.5-kg bundle of 9 to 12 seasonal vegetables
- Small Tampipi, a smaller 2-kg version of the Gulay Pambahay, great for smaller households
- Seasonal Fruit Share, which includes three types of fruit in season (bananas may be available year-round, mangoes during the summer months, avocados in June and July, Asian pears from September to November, and Lorax lemons for half a year or so beginning in August)
Good Food Community also carries staples like black and red rice, as well as interesting bottled items like Garlic Adobo Beets and Sayote Goji Pickle.
After clicking on your chosen product, you choose how long you would like to commit to the bundle, whether it’s 1, 4, or 12 weeks. This makes the demand more predictable, giving farmers a steadier, more reliable source of income—and the consumer the freshest locally grown food every week.
Aside from promoting the subscription service, Good Food Community also supports farmers through various activities like entrepreneurial development and advocacy workshops.
The vegetable and fruit bundles may vary from week to week as you only get what the land naturally has to offer. Some of the produce that comes from Good Food Community partner farmers are:
New Zealand Spinach. This dark, leafy green is loaded with nutrients like iron, calcium, fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Unfortunately, non-organic spinach may also be loaded with pesticides—it’s part of the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen,” or list of 12 crops that contain the most pesticide. This is due to the plant’s ability to absorb copious amounts of pesticides and fertilizers found in the soil. Going for organic spinach keeps you from consuming these harmful chemicals.
New Zealand spinach is popular with organic farmers as it grows well, particularly in the early months of the year. Farmers do have to take special care not to harvest this crop before maturity as younger New Zealand spinach tends to be more bitter and tough.
Try adding New Zealand spinach to a salad or a green smoothie.
Banana Bulkan. Bananas offer plenty of health benefits and there are a number of varieties in the Philippines, each with a different taste and texture. The Capas, Tarlac farmers of Good Food Community harvest what is called the Banana Bulkan, which they say started growing after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
This local banana is like a creamier version of the saba, which is often used for snacks like turon and minatamis na saging. Eat Banana Bulkan as is; slice it up, fry it, and put it on some bread with some peanut butter; or even turn it into ice cream.
Lorax Lemons. These local lemons come from Tublay, Benguet. They have a fragrant, floral scent and, as with other types of lemons, offer a host of health benefits. The fruit’s Vitamin C content helps boost the immune system, is good for the heart, and together with iron, can help prevent anemia.
Enjoy a glass of lemon-infused water, squeeze Lorax lemons into a light pasta dish, or bake into a sweet treat like lemon squares.
A More Conscientious Way to Eat
These days, good food isn’t just about the way it tastes but also about the way it’s produced. The benefits of local food go beyond flavor and freshness but also extend to your health and the welfare of the hardworking farmers who produce them. Learn more about Good Food Community by visiting their website.