Loving and Revering the Food We Eat

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The act of sharing food is a sign of social intimacy. The biggest benefit of eating together as a family unit is to ensure that everyone has their own fill and are having a good time because sharing meals does more than nourish us physically; it also feeds us emotionally and draws us closer together. (photo appears courtesy of chef Jeff Ayento, Culinary Institute of Cagayan de Oro alum)

One way to show love and reverence for the food we eat is by celebrating it. This year, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) is one with the nation in celebrating Filipino Food Month (FFM) for the month of April.

The celebration aims to promote, preserve, and ensure the transmission of the vast culinary traditions and treasures of the country for future generations. This is also to support those who produce food from the various industries, like farmers and other farming communities. This year’s celebration highlights food fare appreciation from different regions, generations, and ethnic groups in the country via the theme "Tara na at Mag Salo-Salo; Iba't Ibang Luto, Pinoy ang Puso".

Spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement, Filipino Food Month is celebrated every April by virtue of Presidential Proclamation no. 469, which was signed in 2018.

Since food is vital to life as our sustenance, we must learn how to respect as well as enjoy the food we eat, and not just see it as just another commodity.

Here are six ways to better love and respect our food:

Learn where good food comes from – As consumers, it is imperative that we know and have sufficient knowledge about what we are eating. Knowing if a plant commodity is a fruit, vegetable, herb, root crop or legume is advantageous once we transform them into mouthwatering dishes. A delicious dish comes into being with the interplay of color, texture, aroma, flavor and all the things that appeal to our senses.

Support local farmers and local food producers – For a foodie like me, I do not only give credit to the cook and chefs where credit is due for whipping up good food on the table whenever I am outside enjoying a sumptuous meal. The real heroes and key players in the food value chain (and for making it sustainable) are the farmers and we ought to patronize the bounty and other food ingredients they produce. Farmers are important because they are a critical component in nation building and for the country to have a robust economy.

Appreciate the people behind the value chain – Farmers and other stakeholders constitute the food value chain involved in growing, processing, and selling the food that we consumers eat—from farm to table. We ought to appreciate the efforts of our farmers since they go through so much to produce our food. Aside from the labor and patience, it takes the convergence of the season, the right seeds, nutrient-dense soil, and availability of water to get the desired quality of food found in our markets, grocery stores, food hubs and even in posh restaurants.

Adopt a healthier and more sustainable diet – The food we eat can make or break us. Since food is the very fuel that our bodies get energy to maintain good health, we must practice mindful consumption by factoring in the amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals we get from food. Maintaining a balance and healthy diet is important to avoid deficiencies and other maladies.

Reduce or avoid food waste – When having one’s share, consume only the amount of food needed and get only the serving size necessary for you or for a group of people. Be creative and turn leftover meals into a new meal that can be enjoyed altogether by the family. Vegetable and fruit peelings can be turned as compost or as soil fertilizers while poultry and livestock animals can also munch on other leftovers.

Converse and engage – To help our farming community, it is good to teach the young and the generations to come to treat each meal with respect. We need farmers to provide us food, fiber and fuel. By supporting farmers and for making their farming activities profitable, we preserve farmland and encourage a new generation to take up farming. To inform them that food does not come from grocery stores or the nearby deli shops. That making healthy and sustainable food choice favors not only the famers who produce for us, but what food really stands for.

Food is important because it literally makes up every part of us. We are made of what we eat. Food is important because it is the cornerstone of civilizations past and present. Countries and cities around the word would collapse without food.

Also, food serves other purpose. Food brings people together to celebrate, to mourn, to meet and to communicate. We want to know more about a person or a group of people by sharing a meal with them. We can learn about cultures and tradition and history through food because food is a universal language.

ATI Today

Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.