So I guess farming is now in vogue. Growing up I was embarrassed when I had to write “Farmer” under Father’s Occupation. I wished then I could write something more lucrative, like lawyer or doctor, businessman or banker. I guess that’s why I became a lawyer and then married a farmer.
After I had my children, wholesome food became an obsession. Since we lived in the city, hours away from my husband’s (then only a flower) farm in Bukidnon, I had to rummage about markets and buy expensive organic produce. My farmer husband saw my weekly grocery receipt and went bonkers over the absurdity of buying expensive food we could grow ourselves. And so begun our venture into biodynamic vegetable farming.
Fast forward to three years hence and I’m a (hopefully) healthier eater. It’s liberating when you know exactly where your food comes from. I think the best tasting food cannot be bought at any price. Of course the best tasting salad should of salad greens picked straight from your garden. (Here’s an article I wrote for our Farm Blog: Starting your own Kitchen Garden.) But living right by the farm or a having an edible kitchen is still a dream. And maybe one day we can have restaurants with lists on which farms supplied what, or grocery stores that tell you exactly where the butter was churned and from what milking cow. But until then, I am contented getting my food from our own farm in Bukidnon or getting produce from my trustworthy farmers (now friends.) Knowing where my food is from (well at least most of it) gives me some measure of control over the quality of food my family eats and what businesses I support. I rely a lot on my list of farms. They are the farms I would trust my children’s tummies with.
VEGETABLES/FRUITS: My rule for vegetables and fruits in order of preference: (a) biodynamic; (b) organic; (c) local and indigenous. I get them from:
ISIP Center, Palma corner Manalac Sts., San Isidro, Makati
ISIP can text you a list of the available produce every week. Order by Sunday: 09209831329. Market Day is Tuesday
ISIP is almost like a CSA. Reimon Gutierrez, our dear friend, got several farmer friends together in one market so consumers can have access to wholesome produce and buy it in one place.
Greg Kitma: Has been growing biodynamic vegetables in Baguio for years and also holds biodynamic farming workshops. We’ve been to his farm too. Greg grows a lot of highland vegetables like carrots, yacon, cabbage and leeks.
Kitchen Herbs: Gejo is also a friend and grows biodynamic herbs and specialty vegetables in Silang, Cavite. He has a great selection of herbs, sprouts, micro vegetables and salad greens.
Prado Farms: This is Reimon’s own farm in Lubao, Pampanga. We have been there a few times (it’s not only a working farm, it’s also a destination. You can even arrange for lunch there.) He grows lowland vegetables (the kind you can assemble your Pinakbet with), herbs and some fruits.
ISIP also offers biodynamic brown/red rice from Bios Dynamis managed by another friend, Betsy in Kidapawan, coconut sugar from Coco Natura and also free-range chicken and eggs.
Weekly Deliveries can be arranged. Call Annabelle for inquiries at 09398828722.
They deliver P50-200 charge, Free delivery within Makati (min. of P500)
Our good friends Gippy and Hindy Tantoco own this lovely farm. You can visit the organic/biodynamic farm (and a Fun Farm for kids too) at Sta. Elena, Sta. Rosa Laguna. Holy Carabao sells lowland vegetables, herbs, and some fruits. They also sell biodynamic rice, milk, cheese, honey and fruit and vegetable juices. I get my hormone free Goat’s Milk (brand is Aussie) and Feta Cheese from them. Their Green Tea and Lemongrass Tea is also my wonderful substitute for the sugary Iced Teas we have in the supermarkets.
Then there’s us: DowntoEarth.
We deliver Th-Sat if you order by Wed. Call 632-7528826 or 0922-8165147. We are also at the Salcedo and Legaspi Markets during the weekends.
We grow biodynamic specialty vegetables, micro and baby vegetables, salad greens, herbs, sprouts, and edible flowers. You can get a weekly vegetable box too.
Our bestsellers are our Mesclun Salad, french beans, baby Arugula and micro radishes. For a complete list see www.downtoearth.ph.
POULTRY, MEAT and PORK
Pamora Farms http://www.pamorafarm.com/contacts.php
Tina is a good friend. She and her husband Gerard have been raising free-range chicken (French breed) in Abra since 2000. They also have homemade pates. You can buy Pamora Chicken and free range eggs at MOM, Legaspi Market on Sundays.
This is us again (well, it’s hard not to love your own brand). We sell Grass-Fed Beef, organ meats, and Pasture-raised pork. We also have smoked meats like additive free bacon, tapa, jerky, ham and tocino. The beef comes from our farm and small family farms around Mindanao. They come from cows that have been raised entirely on grass, with little stress and with no hormones and antibiotics. The pork comes from our own farm and the pigs have been raised on pasture, in spacious outdoor pens. Their natural diet consists of grass, cassava, copra cake, and chopped greens. They don’t get hormones or antibiotics too, nor were they fed any GMO corn or soybean. www.downtoearth.ph
Prado Farms (above) also has organic/biodynamic Lechon. He also has Biodynamic Lechon. His pampered pigs feed on Arugula and only receive homeopathic medicine. I have tried the Lechon and it’s tasty and guilt-free, because you don’t even see the grease. You would have to order a few weeks in advance. 09209831329.
If you go to the local butcher or market to buy beef, here are some tips: Grass Fed beef should be dark red in color (the brighter the red, the more chances the cow has been fed more grain.) The beef should also be smaller than imported/grain fed beef. Lastly, grass fed beef is always leaner than other meats. Make sure you don’t see a lot of marbling or fat. Beef in the supermarket or imported beef (unless labeled pasture-raised or grass fed) will most often be beef from cows that have been fed a majority of grain.
For me, the best would be raw milk, butter and cheese from a grass-fed milking cow (PLUG: we might have these soon!) My next best thing would be Hormone Free Goat’s Milk and Kesong Puti from Holy Carabao. There’s also Rizal’s Dairy, one of the older companies that started organic farming way back in the 1990s. I have bought Peanut Butter, free range eggs and Yoghurt from them since 2006. You can also find them at the Salcedo Market on Saturdays. They also have a stall at the open air section of Market Market in Fort.
I don’t have a source list but I stay away from heavily farmed fish like Bangus and Tilapia. Good choices would be to buy fish that are caught in the wild and are small. The smaller fish (and those that stay closer to the reef and corals) have lower doses of contaminants like mercury. Sardines and other fatty fish would be good for Omega 3 but they say not to eat Farmed Salmon, Chilean Seabass or Cod. I also try to buy deep water fish (but then you get the metals, argh!) and fresh shellfish. Oysters are a treat. There’s also a Sustainable Fish Pocket Guide you can download although it is based on U.S. standards and U.S. seafood. I stopped using the guide though as it leaves me very little to eat with! http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_alternatives.aspx
BREAD, CEREAL AND SNACKS
I sincerely try not to buy products made of bleached white flour or refined sugar. Also, my husband won’t let me buy commercial cereal because he’s paranoid about GMO corn. But the best thing would really be to bake your own bread, cake or cookies (that I cannot do.) Healthy Options has a good offering of alternative baking ingredients (I buy the brand Bob’s Red Mill and use organic unbleached white flour though they say the best would be to use coconut flour, which I am yet to see.) They also have Baking Powder and Cornstarch. For the lazy ones, you can buy Muffin, Cookie, Pancakes and Brownie mixes. Healthy Options would also have a wide variety of choices for healthier snacks. As much as possible, we stay away from fortified or bleached white flour and corn.
I buy my bread (10 Grain) from Gng. Bukid. They are famous for their Challah bread, Maja Blanca and Pandesitos. He is at the Salcedo Market every Saturday. http://ginangbukid.blogspot.com/
Everything else I have to buy at the Grocery Store, Health stores (like EchoStore: echostore.ph and Sesou Nature Source), a lot from the weekend markets or Healthy Options. There are some rules I follow:
- Try not to buy canned.
- Don’t buy vegetable oil. I use Palm oil and olive oil instead.
- No processed meats with additives.
- Stay away from anything with the label “high fructose corn syrup, dextrose or fructose” with soybean or corn (chances are they are genetically modified soy or corn), MSG (Use Braggs for soy sauce), aspartame, or with a lot of ingredients I cannot pronounce.
So that’s almost my entire grocery list. Of course I would often stray (more often than I would like.) And then there’s always the binge, the relapse (especially when eating out) the comfort food, the parties and stress eating. But I tell myself, at least there’s the intention, and the striving. I try. Really, I do.
A good resource on the state of our food: Omnivore’s Dilemma.