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Legarda: Support agriculture, promote food culture to achieve food security and preserve culinary heritage

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Legarda: Support agriculture, promote food culture to achieve food security and preserve culinary heritage
Legarda, a staunch advocate of heritage conservation and preservation and a farmer herself, said that to effectively reduce hunger and malnutrition in the country, there is a need to provide more substantial support for agriculture.
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MANILA, Philippines — Former three-term Senator and now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda has issued a call to promote sustainable good nutrition and food security, as well as the importance of preserving local food heritage.

She asserted that this may be done by providing the necessary support for agriculture, especially for small farmers and urban gardeners and by promoting traditional cooking methods, using heirloom ingredients.

Legarda, a staunch advocate of heritage conservation and preservation and a farmer herself, said that to effectively reduce hunger and malnutrition in the country, there is a need to provide more substantial support for agriculture. Towards this end, educating Filipinos and supporting Philippine gastronomy is essential, a move that would also highlight the rich history and diversity of Filipino cuisine.

“The current pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of food supply chains to shocks, threatening the food and nutritional security of Filipinos. Income losses have reduced people’s access to food, while disruption of supply chains has hampered their physical access to and availability of food. Providing our farmers with the long-term assistance they need will address food security and sustainability problems. Having a sustainable and resilient food system can also help preserve the culinary heritage of Filipinos,” Legarda said.

The three-term Senator recently filed House Bill 10551 or the Philippine Culinary Heritage Act, which seeks to ensure and preserve the culinary heritage that has been passed on from generation to generation in this country.

Legarda called for the government’s support in conducting cultural food mapping and promoting food tourism, highlighting the profile of Philippine gastronomy, heirloom ingredients and the intricacies of food processing and preparation.

“Given the country’s archipelagic nature, each region and each province have their own unique recipes and cuisines passed on from one generation to another. We may come from different provinces with varied cultures, practices and traditions, but our history and our values unite us as Filipinos,” Legarda said.

Legarda’s home province, Antique, boasts of its own culinary heritage such as the lasaw (melted muscovado sugar stored inside a bamboo), pako salad, binabak (fresh water shrimps with coconut), porbida (native chicken with alupidan leaves and coconut milk), tinuom nga makul (wild mushrooms with tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic—all wrapped in a banana leaf purse) and other recipes that have been part of their traditions and beliefs.

Among these is the Patuyaw or freshwater shrimps often cooked in coconut milk with bamboo shoots. It is believed by the Antiqueños that when cooking patuyaw, the soup should not spill from the pot or angongan or choking—caused by evil spirits—could happen to those who eat it.

“Cultural considerations of the Filipino cuisine cannot remain at the sidelines of policymaking. We have to invest in our rich and diverse culture to preserve Philippine culinary traditions and heirloom produce. The fundamental goal of heritage mapping is to inform, educate and help people realize and appreciate our rich heritage and remind us of what we could lose as a result of collective apathy and what we stand to gain from protecting and promoting such heritage instead,” Legarda said.

The former senator also added that preserving the country’s culinary heritage starts with awareness and appreciation of its history and diversity. There is likewise a need to engage in culture-sensitive governance and development to achieve inclusive growth. 

“Enlightening the Filipinos about our culinary heritage is a key towards understanding the diversity of Filipino culture. Our love for food and the variety of cuisines found in each province should be given importance, then, as this is part of our identity. Let’s start educating the young and refresh the mindset of the old. This will be our vital investment in achieving food security, self-sufficiency and culinary heritage preservation,” Legarda concluded.

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
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