The Slow Food Community of Negros Island launched its newest project, dubbed, “Slow Food Travel: Food and Tourism for Rural Development in Western Visayas,” recently.
It aims to improve the understanding on local agro-biodiversity, heritage and food system, and sustainable travel to Western Visayas, a press release from the group said.
The launch happened on the first day of the Pop-Up Earth Market in Bacolod Saturday, March 27, held at May’s Organic Garden in Barangay Pahanocoy. The Pop-Up Earth Market was also organized by the Slow Food Community.
Collaborating with the Slow Food Community of Negros Island for “Slow Food Travel” were the Department of Tourism Region-VI (DOT-6) and Slow Food International.
Ramon Uy Jr., a member of the Slow Food Community of Negros Island, said, “Through our Slow Food activities, we have rediscovered how diverse our food and culture are and how rich our province is in agro-biodiversity.”
“We are all very excited to show the world what we have to offer. Through this project we will be able to strengthen our position and the Slow Food network and, hopefully, someday realize our dream of becoming a Slow Food Island,” Uy added.
Cristine Mansinares, chief tourism operations officer of the DOT-6, said, “For the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas, Slow Food Travel is one of the new tourism products that we prioritize as a part of the region’s domestic tourism program. We envision that opportunity to revitalize the local economy by promoting inclusive, innovative, sustainable, resilient and engaging tourism experiences through this collaboration.”
To support the Slow Food Community in implementing the project, a Project Management Committee was created and then held its first meeting with representatives from the Slow Food Community, DOT-6, the Department of Agriculture, and the Central Philippines State University.
The nine-month project will conclude with a feasibility study and road map to develop a Slow Food Travel for Western Visayas, including selected sites, based on high quality agro-biodiversity products and local gastronomic heritage.
The cultural mapping shall identify the history, stories, gastronomic traditions, artisanal flavors, and the time-honored practices that have been preserved by men and women whose identities and cultures have evolved over the centuries in Western Visayas.
This work has already started with the 23 ‘Ark of Taste’ products having been identified in Western Visayas, including the batuan, darag chicken, kadyos beans, kamias, luyang dilaw, and tingib Visayan white corn.
Each product is uniquely connected to communities and places with their own stories, traditional farming/fishing techniques or practices and traditional gastronomy.
The Slow Food Travel also gained inspiration from six months of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto festival, where the Slow Food Community organized more than 15 local events with a focus to raise awareness on local food biodiversity and culture.
Doreen Gamboa, president of Slow Food Community of Negros Island, said, “Our Terra Madre activities this year made us realise how rich our culinary traditions are. We want to share it to the world and also make our fellow Filipinos appreciate what we have. Slow Food Travel will allow us to do this.”
“Talking to the farmers at the Pop-up Earth Markets will make consumers understand and realize how man and nature are connected and that this relationship must be nurtured. Learning that there are different produce available locally will lead the consumer to be curious also of the connection between food and food producers, food sources and one’s culture. This is what we want to further develop with this new project—linking the local farmers and communities directly with the consumer, shortening the supply chain and broadening the experience so both farmers and consumers benefit from that direct exchange.”*