Slow Food Youth Network Negros Occidental

Negros Island and the Negrense people possess a unique and rich culinary heritage that its inhabitants are proud to discuss, define, and dominate.

Since time began, folks here have relied on the presence of traditional foods - endemic and indigenous, introduced and imported - which have provided us with essential sources of nutrition and cultural sustenance.

This tasty ecological knowledge has been passed around tables all over the world and through generations of descendants and admirers alike.

The Philippines’ legacy of colonialism has nearly severed this symbiotic relationship by imposing barriers and encroaching on local food systems. In precolonial times it was invaded by neighbors to the east and west looking to expand their land holdings and trade. These demands remain the law to this day.

From land dispossession to environmental degradation, the obstacles local communities face to obtain access to traditional foods are numerous and deeply entrenched. We hope with the introduction of slow food networking in the country, more victories will unfold on the island.

Nelrose Eden is the sitting president of the newly formed Slow Food Youth Network chapter of Negros Occidental, Philippines. Formed in December of 2023, the network is part of the international slow food global movement.

With a select team of 15 (and expanding) volunteer Negrense youth, they too advocate for good, clean, and fair food in the region. Eager to spread and grow awareness that support and sustain their local communities.

As they introduce slow food outreach and grassroots projects and collaborations, they are committed to preserving local food traditions, and inspiring the next generation to champion this cause.

The work in tandem with Slow Food Negros – participating in joint events where they too can learn from and be supported by elders and entrepreneurial members. They collaborate with schools – working on programs like community gardens and organic farms to help the growers bring their produce to larger communities.

As local communities address the repercussions of historical misuse and systemic abuse of land, people, and systems - the fight for food access and restoration remains as urgent as ever.

As they network hard to address the challenges hampering vital connection to our heritage – these advocates are fueled by the significance of our culinary traditions, the echoes of past struggles to uphold our kinship, and the ongoing commitments to strengthen food sovereignty in our communities.

Celebrating our foodways is significant and offers profound learnings, but it also requires us to confront the obstacles and threats that continue to impede us from doing the restoration work we require.

Environmental degradation, loss of habitat, and the erosion of our food heritage pose daunting challenges to food access and endemic sovereignty. The commodification and industrialization of food have further displaced traditional and low yield foods, deepening disparities and aggravating equity.

The Slow Food Youth Network of Negros Occidental aim to address these challenges, while embracing a holistic approach to build food sovereignty - one that recognizes the interconnectedness of land, culture, and community.

Their goal is to conserve and preserve ancestral lands, revitalize traditional food systems, and foster partnerships with allies - committed to honoring autonomy, as well as environmental, and social processes and practices.

By centering their youth voices and experiences, they hope to amplify the call for systemic change and build a more just and sustainable future that truly feeds us all.

To honor this and do our part in our local communities, may we also be ready to immerse in all things sustainable and delicious at their upcoming events and programs.

Article by: Issa Urra

Photos by: Slow Food Youth / Nelrose Eden / Khen Sanlo

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