6 Local Homegrown Food Items You Need to Know AboutJanuary 26, 2015
Our country’s diverse topography blesses us with all kinds of resources, which includes a variety of stuff that is grown and raised locally across our 7,000 plus islands. Unfortunately many of our own products are overpowered by local imports and brands in Metro Manila. We end up overspending for products that can be bought at a cheaper price. We also miss out on produce that has yet to find its potential in a larger market. Here are a few products that are provided for by local companies or naturally grow in our country’s diverse topography.
1. Wagyu Beef
Wagyu may usually be associated with Japan, but a farm all the way in Bukidnon raises cattle to provide Filipinos locally sold wagyu beef. Umalag Farms, which is located in Bukidon’s Mt. Kitanglad, fattens up cattle and then sells the beef over at the Kitayama Meat Shop in Makati. All the meat is tender as Wagyu should be, and Umalag Farms promises the product is organic. Some of Kitayama Meat Shop’s products include Kitayama Wagyu Burgers, Wagyu Beef Tapa, and all the usual beef cuts such as tenderloin and ribeye. For those who want a straightforward Wagyu steak dinner, the shop also sells Grade 7 Kitayama Prime Rib steaks.
2. Free-Range Chicken
Free-range chicken is readily available at the grocery, but this practice isn’t limited to larger farms. The Down to Earth farm located on Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon includes free-range native chickens among its poultry products. Sustainable farming practices such as the absence of hormones and antibiotics in the chickens and the lack of herbicides and pesticides in the chicken feed and soil add a healthier variety to poultry options. Even the farm’s free-range eggs provide more vitamin D through the sunlight exposure.
3. Free-Range Pork
Chicken isn’t the only animal raised in a farm’s free-range setting. Down to Earth Farm also raises pastured pigs that are free to roam outdoor pens. Like the chickens, they are exposed to the mountain’s fresh air and sunlight. They aren’t given any antibiotics, administered growth hormones, and aren’t fed GMO corn or soybean like their commercial counterparts. The result is better quality meat that can be had in products such as Canadian Bacon, Chorizo, pork chops, and slab bacon, just to name a few.
4. Split Gill Mushroom
The grocery stocks its shelves with the more familiar types of mushrooms, but parts of the Philippines are able to grow rare kinds such as the split gill mushroom. This type of mushroom can be found on decaying tree branches after a long spell of rain. In Bicol, these mushrooms are eaten as and referred to as “kurakding.” The local term comes from the Filipino word for “to pinch by the fingers” or “kurot”, or the movement that needs to be done to pull the mushroom from the dead branches. When the opportunity to gather these mushrooms arises, Bicolanos usually cook kurakding in their signature mix of coconut milk, ginger, garlic, and lemon grass.
5. Rimas or Breadfruit
Rimas goes by the scientific name of artocarpus altilis, but its common name, breadfruit, comes from the baked bread smell it gives off after being cooked. Like bread, rimas is rich in carbohydrates. Rimas is grown in the provinces of Western and Eastern Visayas, with the latter using the fruit as swine feed. The fruit itself can also be eaten cooked, boiled, fried, and even candied. Apart from its wide use in farming and everyday eating, the Bureau of Agricultural Research has looked into developing this fruit as an alternative to staple food such as rice, flour, feed, and wheat.
6. Sapinit or Philippine Wild Raspberry
Strawberries aren’t the only fruit that offer us a sweet yet sour taste. The sapinit or Philippine wild raspberry that’s typically grown in Mt. Banahaw offers another type of berry experience for Filipinos. The fruit itself has been processed into products such as jam, juice, and wine; it also has the potential of being processed as vinaigrette dressing. Although most of these products are found in Quezon, the Bureau of Agricultural Research has been developing ways for the commercial production of sapinit-based food items. Hopefully we see more sapitin jams or juices in the market so we can enjoy the fruit’s unique taste and its numerous antioxidants or anti-cancer phytochemicals.