It is not unusual for us Filipinos to hear news about our farmers rallying to fight for their lands and human rights, or laborers of large fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies protesting for the fair wage that sometimes result in bloodshed and violence. We’ve heard countless news on farmer killings and several research and statistics that claimed they belong to the poorest sector in the Philippines for decades. It is not unusual for us to hear about our farmers being threatened, whether by big corporations, their landlords, or the extreme changes in our climate.

Then we see news about our food being thrown and wasted because of oversupply, being recalled because of life-threatening effects, being injected so they could weigh more and look tastier. It is also not unusual for us to hear news about our food being threatened, politicized, and controlled.

The awareness and concern about our food system have been growing and slowly gaining its much-needed attention. We have all been aware that highly processed, genetically modified, and chemically sprayed foods expose our bodies to harmful risks that lead to the development of various chronic diseases. But how much do we really know and understand about what goes into our food? Does our food provide us with the proper nutrition that we need or does it only bring us more disease instead of ease? Who grows our food and who controls it? How do our food choices affect our health, our economy, our environment, and the well-being of the people who provide us with our food?

One of the biggest food-related issues we’ve encountered for this year is the enactment of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law, which has stirred a lot of conversations about our food system and farmer rights. The effects of the bill have been said to have brought despair to local rice farmers all over the country and the Filipino citizens have been empathizing with them; which we hope would lead to more concrete, sustainable actions from consumers. The consumers being one of the key factors in shaping our food system, and the farmers at the center of the circular food web.

On October 26, a group of food justice advocates will be hosting Food. Farming. Freedom., a conference that seeks to raise awareness on critical issues in our food systems that affect human health and the health of the environment. It hopes to mainstream the worldview that agroecology, organic food systems, and biodiversity will heal our broken food and farming systems. A presentation of different dishes prepared by chefs in collaboration with local farmers will be served to showcase the diversity of organic local produce.

The conference will be held in Manila and tickets are sold at an early bird rate of P1,000 until September 30 and P1,200 at regular price. Food. Farming. Freedom. is organized by Masipag Farmers, Me & My Veg Mouth, Good Food Community, and Bread of Freedom, with the support of Palawan-born Binhi Mindful Market. Ticket inquiries may be directed to Binhi Mindful Market or Food Farming Freedom on Facebook.