Friday, June 15, 2018

Discovering Wild Plants To Forage In The Philippines

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Foraging, the natural art of scavenging for local ingredients, is thriving in the culinary world. The cost of food in the Philippines increased by 5.7% in May of 2018, causing families to look for more options in fresh produce and dairy products. As “food inflation” continues, despite the economic improvement, finding natural means of produce provides more than what the local groceries, sari-sari stores, and carinderia have to offer. In fact, our native country has so much to offer other than what is grown in the regions of Benguet or Mindanao.

Foraging: Stepping up to organic farms
This may be an unpopular concept for Manileans. However, you might be surprised to see the availability of natural food that grows along the less populated places in the country. Due to rapid industrialization and crop cultivation, our lands are quickly being eaten away upon acres of quality soil.  As a result, we turn to cultivated and processed food items. But, that does not mean we cannot find edible plants to forage with little to no cost at all.

Wild raspberry, Rubus rosifolius Linn
Locally known as “Tungaw-tungaw,” the native fruit is hollow with a tangy, strawberry taste. You can find this abundant plant in shrubs that grow up to six feet with whitish flowers and red fruits that resemble raspberries. They can be eaten raw or processed into juice, wine, or ripe jam. What’s more, these fruits are a rich source of phytochemicals that help fight Alzheimer’s and cancer cells.

Ti, Cordyline terminalis or Cordyline fruticosa
The Ti plant is an ornamental shrub with smooth, elliptic leaves up to 2 feet long. It comes in a variety of colors, such as red, green, yellow, pink, purple, and brown. Ti is a native plant in the Far East and works wonders as an edible source of survival, containing starch. The roots are used to make Okolehao, an alcoholic beverage. You can eat them baked or boiled, never raw.

Screw pine, Pandanus
Commonly seen in rainforests and mangroves, the screw pine can grow up to nine meters long, with stiff and saw-like edged leaves. The fruits are rough, similar to pineapples, yet the taste may be astringent and bitter. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

Are you planning to do some foraging in your local area or backyard? Isn’t it exciting to know that the palms and plants we often ignore are actually rich sources of food for survival and health? This time, you'll know which wild plants to look for during your next trip outdoors.

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