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In search of sustainable produce

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In search of sustainable produce

This new normal has already changed the way we buy our goods — the suki you may once had may not necessarily be the same suki you chase after these days, especially with the increasing costs we are experiencing at the moment. Suki may not be the word anymore, after all.

The author may be reached at [email protected] or follow her at Instagram @kaycalpolugtu and @aplateofbahaykubo.

Chances are every day is an exercise of finding cost efficient and more importantly, sustainable goods, and possibly understanding too the stories behind them.

Enter Rural Rising PH, a community that came to life during the course of the pandemic sometime last year. I have been part of this group for a couple of months now and have enjoyed tremendously some of the produce that they have been making available to its almost 11000 community members.

Their thrust is simple — they would like to harness the full potential of agriculture to support the country’s food security (buy local instead of import, hot topic these days), achieve environmental sustainability (help support our farmers in an unregulated industry) and drive economic opportunity (create jobs). Its founders, led by husband-and-wife team Ace and Andie Estrada are dedicated individuals who, day in and day out, look for produce and essentially help farming communities deep in the rural areas all at grassroots level.

One of my favorite produce that they have introduced to the community is the Lisbon lemons, grown by an ex-pilot who is well into his retirement years. Had it not been for this group, I may probably be still using imported lemons from China who could only produce limited juice. The Lisbon lemons are something else,  seedless and juicy enough that you could produce enough lemon juice needed to make lemon pie by only using one piece.

Perhaps the biggest discovery I have had so far through this community is the ubod ng yantok – or in English, the heart/core/pith of the rattan tree. It sounded alien as I am only familiar with the commonly accessible ubod ng niyog and labong here in Manila.

When Ace did a quick announcement on Facebook that a couple was selling the ubod that they got from the mountains — at Php1,000 for a sack, it was a good price to pay for a lesson of knowing what else do we have there. Truly an experience of discovery for those who are forever curious like myself.

It is also not so much on the produce itself that makes this community special, but really the stories behind it. Filipinos are emotional people, and one way or another, our everyday efforts are geared towards helping someone, or a community in need of something.

Rural Rising helps to achieve all of the above, as seen in the case of many a group buy, such as the Dumagat honey, the blueberry jam and many other things. It is this special sauce that makes being a part of this group truly remarkable, not to mention knowing sustainable produce that could be part of our meal spread shared everyday with the family. In practical terms, this is also a big help considering that the price of commodities in Manila are getting higher by the day and with no regulation in place, the risks are there.

Searching for sustainable produce is not an easy task, especially if logistics is always a perennial problem. This is why communities such as Rural Rising is special. Everybody wins.

Here’s a special and easy recipe on ginataang ubod ng yantok which is easily a favorite dish of mine as of late. The taste of the rattan pith resembles the taste of tinapa and is a great discovery especially for a plant-based eater like myself.

The author may be reached at [email protected] or follow her at Instagram @kaycalpolugtu and @aplateofbahaykubo.