Whenever the subject of sustainability comes up, the food industry isn’t usually the first sector that comes to mind. But food is a constant in human life, and the way we grow, prepare and consume our food affects the greater environment we live in.
Wasting food can aggravate the global climate problem because the resources used to make food go to waste.
How food is prepared in restaurants also determines demand for specific ingredients, and producing these ingredients requires different levels of processing, some of which may emit more carbon than others.
The good news is, we Filipino diners now have the power to transform the local food industry. For starters, we can improve our personal dining choices, because what we demand will dictate the supply that restaurants offer us, and even the policies that the government will formulate.
It is estimated that Filipinos waste 308,000 tons of rice every year (IRRI, Rice Today Magazine, “That Rice You Throw Away”). In Metro Manila alone, 2,175 tons of food scraps end up in trash bins daily (Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Development Research News).
Add to the bigger picture that 2.7 million Filipino families experience involuntary hunger at least once in three months (SWS, 2017), then clearly there is a gap between the amount of food that is supplied and produced, and the demand that this supply should address.
The sad truth is that traditional consumption and production processes in the local dining industry are part of this major food waste problem.
Here’s a nine-step guide for aspiring sustainable diners:
1) A growing number of restaurants are now integrating sustainable practices in their operations. By choosing to dine in any of them, you’re not only helping promote sustainability, but also encouraging others to join the movement.
2) Most restaurants offer special dishes with ingredients that are in season. By trying out these dishes, you help local farmers and fisherfolk while enjoying fresh produce.
3) Meat is a good source of protein. But meat production, especially beef, uses a huge amount of natural resources. The alternative is there’s a lot of delicious vegetable dishes out there, so why not explore? Your taste buds will thank you.
4) We Filipinos love food, but by ordering only what we can consume, we help lessen food wastage. If leftovers can’t be helped, take them out and eat at home.
5) Sustainability entails sourcing fresh produce locally. By asking questions, you let restaurants know that dishes made from ingredients sourced from local farmers and fisherfolk are much appreciated.
6) Half rice lang po! There’s no harm in asking for order modifications. Your servers would be more than happy to comply.
7) Avoid using plastic utensils, drinking straws and containers which restaurants typically provide. You’re not only helping save the environment, but also helping restaurants achieve their own sustainability goals.
8) Some restaurants and fast-food chains require diners to practice Claygo, or clean as you go. When required, make sure you segregate your trash properly. It’s a great help for restaurants that are conscious about how they manage waste.
9) When dining out, exercise the power to influence and educate friends and family through words and actions. Encourage them to follow your lead for a more sustainable Filipino dining scene.
Advocate, educate, encourage and inspire. Become #TheSustainableDiner in your circles today and together, it is possible to #SustainOurAbility to grow food, produce food and ensure food security for us and future generations of Filipinos.
The Sustainable Diner project, under World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines’ Sustainable Consumption and Production, is part of the International Climate Initiative.
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.