Say It Like You Eat It ‘Terra Madre’: Ramon

“Negros Islands is the sugar capital of the Philippines, we grow sugar and mostly our economy is dependant on sugar. What we do is go away from the conventional and still produce sugar in small scale. For example, with Muscovado, after the juice we boil it and once it evaporates it becomes Muscovado. There was a time when the country was dependant on sugar. So, right now we’re struggling, so we diversified into an organic programme in the province. Right now we’re the number 1 in organic, we have 15,000 hectors of organic area and we even ban GMO – you’re not allowed to plant in our province, you can go to jail.”

“Refined sugar is already high processed product; it’s not good. It’s like corn, but if you make it into high fructose corn syrup it’s really bad. Stevia is good if it’s raw, but if you make it into white stevia, it’s another thing. Same with sugar – when it’s highly processed, it’s not good for the health. So, that’s why we wanted our product to be minimally processed and as close to its original form.”

Slow Food, for me, is moving forward. It’s moving forward from the conventional system, the big agri-system because the green revolution, especially in our country failed. So, Slow Food is actually not going back to basics, it’s moving forward to a more sustainable way of producing food now. It’s not large scale, but the focus in on small scale producers like us, and empower them, hear their story and appreciate what they’re doing. More than 80% of our food comes from small-scale farmers, but they are not compensated well. So, what we want is to be treated fairly, we deserve to be rich also, because they wake up very early, they work the hardest, but at the end of the day, they end up the poorest. We wanted to change that in the Philippines.”

[Ramon, Philippines, told on 25 September, in Turin, Italy]

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