MANILA, Philippines – “Saan tayo kakain? [Where are we eating?]”
We ask this question everyday. Sometimes during breakfast, most of the time during lunch at work, and often during dinner dates with our friends or significant other.
Asking more questions helps us decide: “Is this what I’m craving for? Does this restaurant have good reviews? Is the food any good? Is it affordable?”
But besides the taste or customer rating of a restaurant, there are more important questions we should be asking about the food that we’re putting inside our bodies.
On our first ever #WhatsNext farm-to-table cooking workshop last December 9, our friends from Holy Carabao Holistic Farms taught us how to cook and eat better by asking five simple questions about the food we consume.
For Hindy Weber and Melanie Teng-Go, our program leaders, and founders of Holy Carabao, these are also the foundations on how they approach their business. “A sustainable business considers not just the product but as well as the planet and the people,” said Hindy.
What am I eating?
“We should recognize what’s on our plate,” said Melanie.
A tinola may sound like a simple, healthy enough dish. But do you know what kind of water was used to make the broth? Was the soup made with artificial flavorings? Where was the chicken sourced from?
It’s not enough that you’re satisfied with what you’re eating, you also have to make sure that you’re getting the right nourishment.
How was it prepared?
Everyday people are busy with their jobs and taking care of their families. And the heavy traffic and packed trains during your commute leave you with no energy to cook your own meals. But it’s still best to keep dining out to a minimum.
“Even if it’s not organic, if it’s cooked by your mom in the kitchen, it’s still healthier than what you buy commercially,” said Melanie.
A healthy meal doesn’t have to be prepared using expensive organic ingredients. It just needs to be cooked by someone you know and trust like your parents, tita, or yourself.
How did it get to you?
The meat and poultry being supplied to most establishments might have been already slaughtered for months, frozen, processed, and shipped from one country to another before they become the food served on your table.
This long and tedious process doesn’t only hurt the quality of the meat you consume, it could also be hurting the workers involved. Some companies overcharge for produce when they’re already out on the market but the money doesn’t trickle down to the farmers.
In Holy Carabao, they strongly believe that if they want to take care of people by feeding them healthy food, they should also take care of people who work with them. “Everyone who works with us, the farmers, delivery guys, and chefs are all well taken care of,” shared Melanie. No one is made to work for long hours, and more importantly, everyone is paid enough for the work they do.
How was it grown?
“Is it healthy? Is it clean? Are farmers paid enough?”
Your food may be organic and clean but if the environment was harmed during production and the farmers who grew it weren’t paid enough to feed themselves, it’s unethical and could be just as bad as eating junk.
Strive to patronize local companies that support Filipino farmers.
Who grew your food?
Product labels are not always what they say they are.
“What is the intention of the person or the company who grew your food? Are they here for business or are they here for the people?”
If you know the answers to these questions, that’s the only time you can trust them with your food. Support honest companies, get the right value for your money.
With these in mind, our #WhatsNext participants were able to prepare and feast on a healthy spread of garden salad, roasted vegetables, pesto pasta, chicken curry, vegan tinola, and chocolate banana pancakes using fresh produce picked from Holy Carabao’s organic farm.
“Food, for me, is the noblest form of art. You can take all the time to paint an artwork or to write music but when you’re cooking food, you only have that one moment to make a masterpiece,” said Hindy.
Here at Rappler, we would like to help you figure out what you would consider as the noblest form of art through our #WhatsNext programs. We’ve helped aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue their passions, budding business owners to go beyond profit, and environment warriors to start cooking and eating healthy and sustainably.
How can we help you? Watch out for our next programs: https://www.rappler.com/brandrap/whatsnext – Rappler.com