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How industrial food system endangers our health

The Philippine population has reached 100 million.  How are we going to feed this growing population when our farms are taken over by real estate development and testing ground for GMO?

Capitalists and entrepreneurs see the opportunity that tons of profits can be made if food are produced at a massive scale and at lower cost. These so called food entrepreneurs have created food production systems backed by bankers and financiers to speed up and bulk up meat production. Chickens are raised in cramped chicken sheds causing immobility and disease but can grow enormously in 45 or even 21 days.  In food factories, the natural instincts of cows, pigs and chickens are redesigned – cows these days do not eat grass anymore much less seen a blade of grass and yet produce tons and gallons of milk because of constant feeding of hormones and antibiotics so that milk can be produced at a massive scale at cheap cost.

Food has become denatured food products that contribute to diseases. Obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are at an all time high in the Philippines but doctors warned us that most of these diseases can be healed or controlled by food – real food.

Real food are fruits and vegetables grown on living soil in season and eaten in season. Animals grow on pasture and fed on grass, table scraps, garden waste and worms. They live out their natural instincts and are mobile to do whatever and wherever they wanted to go and graze.

 

Soon we will be offering our own native and white chickens, and ducks too including pastured pork.

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Different varieties of green leafy veg

Different varieties of green leafy veg

Sprouts.

Sprouts.

Grass clippings are used for mulching to conserve moisture.

Grass clippings are used for mulching to conserve moisture.

Mountain Rice

Mountain Rice

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Soil is enriched of natural nutritional fertilizer so it meet your needs.

Soil is enriched of natural nutritional fertilizer to meet your needs.

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This 3 feet red lady papaya is not just a beauty but is bounty aplenty of anti-oxidant, Vitamin E and E and folate.

This 3 feet red lady papaya is not just a beauty but is bounty aplenty of anti-oxidant, Vitamin E and E and folate.

Rows of calamansi grow alongside a barrier.

Rows of calamansi grow alongside a barrier.

Greenhouse for lettuces and herbs.

Greenhouse for lettuces and herbs.

Worm bed that provides nutrient-rich fertiliser for plants and soil.

Worm bed that provides nutrient-rich fertiliser for plants and soil.

Heaps of carabao manure that fertilises the soil.

Heaps of carabao manure that fertilises the soil.

Fertilisers in ceramic jars.

Natural fertilizers in ceramic jars.

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Sugarcane Industry in the Philippines: Not so sweet

sugarcane

Over the weekend we went to the western part of Batangas to capacitate sugarcane workers and equip them of new skills so they can plan for other sources of income and set up livelihood when the sugarcane industry finally succumb to its natural death following the lifting of the sugar tariff by 2015 which as a consequence will create increased demand for lower priced imported sugar.

Their abject poverty is an eye opener to us and we would like to mainstream this invisible social challenge much more visible.

photo 4Take for example, a typical worker in the sugarcane industry in Batangas earns between Ps 50.00 – Ps 150.00 a day which is outrageously less than the statutory minimum wage. Not only that, some landowners exploit sugarcane workers by an unfair wage system called pakyaw or bulk wage payment. For example, groups of farmers or families are paid a flat rate regardless of the number of workers to work in some hectares in a sugarcane plantation. This pakyaw system enables each worker to earn P 45 a day!

Aside from low wage, sugarcane farmers have to deal with forced seasonal holiday when there is no work for four to six months. During this period, farm workers engage in grass weeding, coconut harvesting, construction work and other related farming works. The women augment income by doing laundry and domestic work. Others who couldn’t find similar work live on cash advances deducted from their wages so that when work resumes they have to work doubly hard to pay for their advances and pay for daily needs so others take out loans from friends and payday lenders or 5-6 loan schemes. Hence, during lean season, household indebtedness skyrocket to pay for food, education and other needs.

A typical family has 4 to 12 children. Although majority of the children are in school but in some big families, the young adult children stop schooling and work in the farm. It is also not a surprise that the bulk of child labor is in the sugarcane industry because children as young as 5 years old are forced to help especially if a family is contracted to work for “pakyawan” (bulk wage payment).

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SELF Matters help ABK Leap Project increase the capability of sugar cane workers and their families, expand their opportunities to increase skills and develop other income sources, help them access suitable financial products so they can build sustainable livelihood and improve their quality of life.