Monday, October 12, 2009

Featured: Legazpi Organic Market's Food Hero, Seair InFlight Magazine Oct - Nov 09 Issue

InFlight Opener Mara Organic MarketMara Pardo de Tavera is testament to the fact that one person can help change the way a nation thinks about its food.

Back in 1994, she opened one of the first, if not the first, organic markets in the country at Greenbelt Park in Makati. The concept was so alien that some of her family and friends doubted the sanity of the venture. Jaime Zobel de Ayala, a family friend, promised Pardo de Tavera a corner in the Greenbelt area to help her out. Local farmers from Northern Luzon also committed to the project, supplying the organic produce. legazpi market fruit stand buyersAt the time of the market's opening, going organic, or choosing to eat food untainted by chemicals and preservatives, was still very much a middle class concept. Our ancestors, particularly those in the Cordilleras, had, for years, been farming and eating organically, but somehow we lost this connection to food. The word organic was not used then, but the methods used in farms in Northern Luzon adhered to the natural or non-chemical way of growing food, a practice that has nearly died with the advent of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In contrast, the more developed markets in Europe and the US, restarted their love affair with organic food and a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.legazpi organic market reflexology slippersThis thinking has not quite taken hold in the Philippines and those who frequented the organic market were mainly Pardo de Tavera's friends, trendy or new-age types, middle-class consumers, and those who have gone the extreme way, using organic food to heal cancers. Pardo de Tavera recalls she started with only about 20 customer. She and her group of organic farmers knew it was an uphill battle to educate and grow the market in a country known for its love affair with junk food.legazpi market chicken liver pateThe open-air organic market in Greenbelt started with four tables filled with organically grown fruit and vegetables. There were good days and bad days. "Opening the organic market is like throwing a stone in the pond," said Pardo de Tavera. "The ripples of that action get wider and wider."

Read the rest of the article in Seair's InFlight Magazine October - November 2009 issue. Article by Margie Francisco, art direction by Jocas See, photography by Oggie Ramos.


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