The Philippines has been one of the most affected countries by climate change. With dozens of typhoons coursing through the Philippine Area of Responsibility every year and drought during the summer, crop harvest and livestock welfare have been compromised. Urbanites like you and me are at the expense of the laws of supply and demand. But what if you don’t need to rely heavily on market finds?
Here are some easy ways to decrease your trips to the market and save money in the long run:
Using herbs is the healthiest way to add flavor to your food. Imagine freshly picked basil for your favorite pesto pasta, rosemary for your medium rare steak, and thyme for your humble roast chicken. Discard all your bottles of dried herbs and start growing your herb garden. Some are skeptical because of the weather in Manila—yes, I also thought herbs can only thrive in cool places like Tagaytay—but that’s not always the case. Aside from sunlight, healthy soil, and regular watering are important for your little herb garden to endure harsh weather conditions. Don’t treat your herbs as your regular houseplants that could endure every other day watering. Check on the soil’s moisture regularly and water as needed—typically twice a day is fine. Whether living in a high-rise apartment or a spacious suburban house, herbs will still thrive as long it gets at least four hours of sunlight every day. Knowing when to expose it under the sun and leave it in the shade is crucial for your herbs’ survival.
Remember your lola having her own malunggay (moringa) or calamansi (Philippine limes) plants that supply all her neighbors for free? If you have extra space, save it to plant a few vegetables or even edible flowers.
Apart from being self-sustaining, horticulture is always a good way to de-stress. Debunking common misconceptions that growing all kinds of vegetables are hard work, there are certain varieties that are less demanding and perfect for beginners. Every Filipino dish is cooked with onions, shallots, and garlic. If you had a choice to not buy them from the market weekly, would you take it? Of course you would. Other low maintenance crops are tomatoes, potatoes, and leafy greens such as kangkong and mustasa.
I’ve never encountered a household tilapia pond until I stepped in Tweetie De Leon- Gonzalez’ home for a photo shoot. What seemed to be a regular koi pond covered with water lilies right in front of her doorstep is actually a tilapia pond. “That’s where we get all the tilapia that we eat,” points out her daughter Sabina Gonzalez. Apart from it being perfectly clean, she claims that it is also tastier than the regular tilapia you can purchase in the market. What a smart way to make use of a decorative space!