Together with Circa 1900, Simply Share Foundation, and Earthventure/Greenspace, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines brought their media trip series to bloggers and media partners from Cebu City last August 17, 2019.
“Food production is one of the biggest threats to the environment today. Most of the time, people would think it’s the transportation sector or the energy sector, but food production has actually caused 70% of biodiversity loss.”
According to WWF’s Global Food Initiative, 7.3 billion people consume 1.6 times what the earth’s natural resources can supply. Today, we are using one-third of the planet’s surface just to produce food. By 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion and the demand for food would surely double. While in actuality, the current food production system is capable of providing sufficient food supply to the global population. Because of unsustainable practices, about 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year – four times the amount needed to feed the 800+ million people who are malnourished. If the current food system was sustainable, such gaps would not have been existent.
“When we waste food, we do not only waste what’s on our plates. We are also wasting the resources that went into producing our food such as land, water, energy, labor, and capital. All of these emit their own share of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which then contributes to global warming. What we eat, where we eat, and how we eat contributes to the climate crisis we are experiencing now, and as diners, we have the power to change the system.”
Melody Melo-Rijk, WWF’s Project Manager for Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Philippines, opened the event with this challenge as she welcomed members of the media and the Cebuano blogging community to the third leg of Savour Planet: No Place for Waste.
Recognizing the huge contribution of food waste to climate change, WWF-Philippines, through its pioneer project on sustainable consumption and production, The Sustainable Diner: A Key Ingredient for Sustainable Tourism, has conducted the third run of its flagship media workshop series at Circa 1900, one of the project’s partner restaurants in Cebu City. The Savour Planet workshop series aims to empower and educate Filipino diners, partners from the media, the academe, as well as fellow non-government organizations and food security projects on the importance of sustainable food systems and sustainable dining. The objective of this year’s theme is to equip Filipino diners with knowledge and practical approaches on how they can prevent, manage, and divert the food waste they have at home.
THE SUSTAINABLE DINER: A KEY INGREDIENT FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
“Food waste is morally and socially unacceptable, it is never okay. It is never okay when an estimated 33% of the food produced in the world never reaches our plates. It is never okay to waste food when 69% of the world’s freshwater is used to produce our food, from planting to dining,” says Melo-Rijk, who opened the workshop by giving a brief introduction on The Sustainable Diner project and presenting glaring statistics on the harmful effects of unsustainable food systems to our environment. “As diners, we can help make the foodservice industry more sustainable by supporting local produce, ordering only what we can finish, taking home our leftovers, lessening our meat consumption, and reducing our reliance on single-use plastics. Did you know that according to a study conducted by the University of San Carlos here in Cebu, microplastics are already present in our local danggit?”
THE BEAUTY IN UGLY PRODUCE
Filipinos love eating, and when we dine out in restaurants, this is evident in our propensity to over-order, or to commit “takaw-tingin” as we call it. While this behavior may result in food waste, coupled with our preference for “unli” and buffets, it is not the only reason why food gets wasted. “In restaurant kitchens, food loss happens when produce and other ingredients get damaged in the delivery and preparation process. In our own homes, we contribute to food loss when we choose to ignore what we call ugly produce in markets and groceries,” says Melo-Rijk. “Ugly produce” refers to produce that are misshapen, undersized, discolored, bruised, or those with unusual spots or marks. These kinds of produce are usually ignored by consumers, who prefer to buy items that pass the cosmetic standards of supermarkets and groceries. “There is this misconception that perfect-looking produce would taste better and be more nutrient-dense than those that are a bit battered or discolored. This is simply not true, because food safety is not based on aesthetics alone. If we don’t give these produce a chance, they will end up in landfills.”
FIGHT HUNGER BY SIMPLY SHARING
Pamela Baricuatro, the Executive Director of Simply Share Foundation, then talked about their partnership with Rise Against Hunger Philippines in reducing hunger and promoting food banking in the country, particularly in Cebu City. Simply Share Foundation is a non-profit organization primarily devoted to fighting hunger and malnutrition in the most vulnerable populations in the Philippines. Regarded as the first food banking initiative in Cebu City, they have been lobbying for the establishment of a national zero hunger commission, which would not only look at institutionalizing food banking but also possible ways to redirect potential food waste to families who would benefit from them. “Years ago, I asked myself why we do not have an active food bank here in the Philippines, given that we are a third-world country. We have gone around schools, daycare centers, and communities-in-need here in Cebu to feed primarily children because oftentimes, they go to school in the morning without having eaten any breakfast,” says Baricuatro. “Food banking is a real solution not just to hunger but also to the growing problem of food waste because it simply means redirecting surplus food to the hungry.”
UNWASTED AND SOILFUL
While the participants spent the morning listening to micro-talks, the afternoon consisted of a presentation and workshop on bokashi composting, led by Rina Papio, Founder of Earthventure Inc./Greenspace. She introduced the concept of bioremediation, which is the use of biological organisms, either naturally occurring or deliberately introduced microorganisms, to breakdown environmental pollutants. “Ever since we were children, we were always taught that bacteria and microbes are bad. We always see anti-bacterial ads on TV and we would even be scolded whenever we try to touch bacteria-rich surfaces such as the soil. They fail to mention that there are good bacteria and microbes,” says Papio. “In bokashi composting, our food waste provides nutrients to the microbes found in the bokashi bran. In the fermentation process, these microbes produce enzymes, vitamins, trace minerals, and other bio-available nutrients that are beneficial to the soil and plants. This means that through composting, we can actually achieve a farm to table to compost to farm system.”
Through her workshop, Papio was able to show how easy it can be for diners to divert food waste from landfills by turning them into compost instead. The Sustainable Diner team even gave out five (5) bokashi composting kits from Earthventure Inc./Greenspace, as a raffle surprise to the participants. The lucky winners will use these starter kits to begin their own bokashi composting journey, which they will be sharing through articles, blog posts, and videos.
Filipino diners still hold the key to positively influencing others through their habits, purchases, and behavior. By educating them on how they can effectively avoid and manage food waste in their homes and when they dine out, and by introducing to them easy ways to divert food waste, WWF-Philippines believes that it is possible for us to help make the current food system become more sustainable.
You can start with these simple steps. Like they always say, taking a small step one day at a time can make a huge difference 🙂
Together, let’s feed people and feed the soil, not landfills.
The Sustainable Diner project, under WWF-Philippines’ Sustainable Consumption and Production, is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
A former educator and now working as a freelance writer. Simply living her own version of life’s passion – music, mobile photography, story telling, road trips and food trailing! 🙂