Down to Earth Carries Rare Produce That You Can Only Find in the PhilippinesNovember 15, 2017
Nicolo Aberasturi’s family has been raising cattle in Bukidnon and Cagayan De Oro since the early 90’s, and had already been producing organic vegetables with the fertilizer produced at the cattle ranch (only in small scale as a way t put the fertilizer to use). But together with his wife Paula, having started a family of their own, the couple started their own organic and biodynamic farm called Down to Earth in 2008.
In the beginning, Down to Earth was a response to Ondoy (or Typhoon Ketsana) in 2009, when the tropical storm had affected their community’s supply of produce, and the couple were growing “basic vegetables that you use around the house”. But they soon found themselves joining weekend markets and meeting more people interested in organic produce, as well as chefs who wanted to discover new ingredients.
They started foraging for new and interesting produce—the ones you wouldn’t typically find in your grocery—and discovered that our country is rich in what are called Ark of Taste produce that are particular to the Philippines, many of which are “are old and are already disappearing”. As you meander through the wooden walls and shelfs of Down to Earth, you are likely to come across some of these rare heritage produce like adlai, purple corn and barako coffee. Nicolo tells us that heritage produce are more resilient than modern produce against climate change, which he cites as the number one challenge for farmers today, and is one of the reasons why sustainability is one of the main thrusts of the Down to Earth farm.
One of the highlights of the Down to Earth grocery is the organic meat supply, that not only is hormone-free and grass-fed, but also is a heritage beef that is near-impossible to find in Luzon due to the fact that they only grow to half the size of Luzon’s commercial cows. “If Rizal had a kaldareta, it would taste like this,” says Nicolo. “These animals have been around since the Spanish time. It has a distinct flavor, and that’s really the flavor that our beef is supposed to be. It comes from the grass, that comes from the land—the grass here in the Philippines.”
From their humble beginnings of growing and selling their own produce 8 years ago, Down to Earth has expanded to offer live microgreens, dairy, ice cream, kombucha, tea, grains and even (though not food-related) sustainably-grown flowers. They have expanded a snack line that includes the curious natural beef jerky (we imagine cavemen preserving their meat this way) and black pork chicharon.
Down To Earth
Down to Earth is an organic grocery in Makati that specializes in produce, dairy, eggs, and meat produced in their biodynamic farm.