A Nod to the Future of Food with the ‘Women’s Market’

via Oxfam Blogs |

The verdict on the world’s food system has long been out. Research after research, such as our new report Weathering the Crises, Feeding the Future,  have stacked up evidence of the strain the existing mode of growing food has placed the environment and consumers under. This mode employs technologies – for example, using fertilizers – that tax and ultimately damage soils. Pesticides are used with abandon, lacing the vegetables, cereals and fruits served up on our dining tables with harmful chemicals.

The alternative, sustainable agriculture, which avoids these pitfalls and more, is gaining ground as the future of food. A boon for consumers and the ecosystem, sustainable agriculture is also many a farmer’s answered prayer. Humane working conditions and decent wages are but some of incentives for farmers who toil long hours to feed us.

For the second time this year, we and our partners set up the Women’s Market, the only one in Manila that carries all-women’s sustainable produce. Coming from different parts of Luzon,  women farmers stocked the one-day market with a wide selection of fresh harvests and homemade products.

Because of the typhoons, there weren’t enough organic vegetables to go around, highlighting the role of preparedness for climate impacts in sustainable agriculture.

Womens-Market-1024x683

Market6-1024x683

There were kilos and kilos of the hardy sweet potato though.

Camote-1024x648

And a variety of healthy pastries

Market4-1024x683

and delicious home cooking using the choicest organic ingredients.

Market5-1024x683

To spice things up, top chefs Steph Zubiri, Tatung Sarthou, and Sau del Rosario came and created recipes on the spot, using only the few organic vegetables available at the market.

Here’s Chef Steph buying ingredients:

Chef-Steph-buying-from-the-market3

Chef Sau was very protective of the one of two squashes he’d found.

Sau-at-market-1024x683

The chefs lost no time and buckled down to work.

Chef-Tatung-cooks-his-dish1-620x330

Steph-cooking-1024x743

Sau-cooks-1024x683

A few minutes later – to show the audience how easy and quick it was to prepare organic meals – the chefs were done.

Here’s Chef Tatung’s Fried Sweet Potato Spring Roll with Green Salad in Santol Dressing:

Chef-Tatungs-Dish-Fried-Lumpiang-Camote-with-Salad-in-Santol-Dressing-683x1024

Chef Sau’s Thai Chicken Curry:

Saus-Dish-633x1024

and Chef Steph’s Asian Vegetable Taco with Dried Danggit:

Chef-Stephs-dish-Asian-Veggie-Taco-with-Danggit-683x1024

This was the show of hands when we asked for volunteers to taste the dishes .

Volunteers-Taste-Test-1024x683

We could only pick a few, and it looked like they were happy with the results.

Taste-test-1024x683

Certainly, Mary delos Santos, newly elected president of the National Rural Women’s Congress, was quite happy with the market.

3P8F6832-1024x683

For women farmers like Mary, the Women’s Market and other similar projects give their livelihoods – and lives – a step up. Selling straight off their farms and cutting out traders means higher margins for them. Their confidence also tends to pick up along with their incomes:  they find themselves wanting to have more say in decisions in their homes as in the halls of  government, both traditionally the stronghold of men.

As crucial farmers like her are to our food security, we hope the Women’s Market and other food outlets carrying sustainable produce find a more robust following and become the rule rather than the exception.*

The Women’s Market is a continuing initiative of the National Congress of Rural Women and Oxfam. This instalment was supported by the Department of Agriculture and the Inter-Agency Committee on Rural Women.

– See more at: http://www.oxfamblogs.org/philippines/the-womens-market-a-nod-to-the-future-of-food.htm#sthash.pgndaTfb.dpuf