I’ve always loved vegetables. There’s nothing like a piece of green sautéed to a crisp and dipped in your favorite salsa. The sound of leaves breaking in between your teeth and slowly becoming mash in your mouth – irreplaceable.
You see, I’ve had less and less of this experience since I moved out of town and into the bigger city where I’m attending university. I live in a dormitory with a cafeteria serving meat most of the day for six days a week. There’s no other viand andit’s crazy. I only get to eat my greens when I have the money and on Sundays, when my friends and I go out and eat fastfood. KFC got good salad. Kind of.
I get to go the grocery every now and then and whenever I pass by the fruits and vegetables section, I get that nostalgic feeling of home and growing up. My dad has primarily loved vegetables, well, second to my mom and us his children and there’s never a meal time that vegetables aren’t served on the table. I would miss home a lot of times and one way of getting the sick feeling off is to stare at those green sections.
Honestly, the drama that I get when I spend time at the grocer isn’t really helping. I see the vegetables and know most couldn’t be from where I grew up.
La Trinidad, Benguet has been known to most as the “Salad Bowl of the Country” particularly because it grows a variety of temperate vegetables which are being delivered to many parts in the country. Benguet natives can actually be found anywhere in the Philippines and most of the farms that grow temperate vegetables are owned by them. Lately, however, and for the past few years, competition between our own vegetables and those of other countries’, especially China, have grown exceedingly tight.
There’s something sort of an ailing person here who has gotten very sick because of complications by multiple diseases. Well, that’s a general picture and you can certainly apply it to most every situation dealing with pressure from all sides. An example would be the state of our vegetable industry.
The prices of farm inputs have shot up and the less number of inputs you can buy with the same money you have, the less land you can cultivate. Couple that with the low price of produce and voila, less profit.
To make things more complicated, smuggling, which has heightened during GMA’s term, is still rampant. Benguet and Baguio people very well know that a lot of the goods being sold in some ukay-ukay stores are actually smuggled. Food isn’t an exception and because no taxes are being charged on these sneak-ins, they’re priced way lower. A kilo of potatoes from China costs only 4.00 compared to famed Buguias potatoes which are being sold at 20.00 wholesale. Since these Chinese potatoes obviously look prettier than their Philippine counterparts, they get more attention. We don’t have the competitive technology to package our potatoes the way they package theirs. It’s a lose-lose situation for Benguet farmers who have pricier and less pretty produce.
The Philippines has always been known as an agricultural country. Farms are present in almost every region and most of our labor force had included farmers. Now, we’re lagging behind the race as even we import agricultural products like rice to sustain our consumption needs.
The situation may look kind of bleak but I don’t see us completely dying any time soon well, unless we don’t make any move and let the present situation continue. We can’t let our relatives turn jobless, can we?
I started writing in grade school but only began to have my works published in high school. Apart from campus stints, I am juggling writing between SAVED Magazine and Figment, a young adult writers’ website, where I am one of the first Filipinos to become a member of. It is also where I try to deviate from my usual non-fiction style and practice writing for larger audiences.