Food waste is one of the biggest problems we are facing today. I watched a few episodes of Jamie Oliver’s show—Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight Club. The show highlights areas of food wastage and takes steps to change the public’s eating habits, which in turn affects their purchases and eventually, if all goes to plan, the buying and stocking of large grocery chains. Of course, the show also has recipes and even celebrity guests that help in drawing people to the show. Jamie Oliver’s popularity is a good tool to use and his other advocacies like changing school lunch menus to make them healthier shows his sincere desire for change.
This issue of food wastage couldn’t be more timely for us here in the Philippines. Just a month or so ago, the news was filled with articles about the soaring prices of rice and vegetables. While a number of factors caused the price spike (weather, importation errors, etc.), what became clear was that food was becoming more expensive than what the public can afford. And to make matters even worse, just around the same time, a picture of a huge mound, tons and tons of tomatoes was being thrown away in Kalayaan, Laguna. Here we all are, bearing the brunt of inflation, taxation and lack of supply, while just two hours away from Manila, farmers had no choice but to discard tons of produce. What was wrong? On one side was a supposed lack of supply that drove prices sky high while two hours away, farmers’ harvests are being rejected.
The problems of proper infrastructure, protection and assistance for the agricultural sector, bureaucratic delays and corrupt practices, and purchasing culture all played a part in the mess we got into. While Northern Luzon received the brunt of the bad weather, farms exist all over Luzon. The Department of Agriculture tried to bring in produce from the southern provinces, but they neglected the harvests from places as near as two hours away from Manila.