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Home Public Life Diet shift in City of Smiles? City Hall exec notes Bacoleños buying...

Diet shift in City of Smiles? City Hall exec notes Bacoleños buying more vegetables

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – It was a sight that horrified officials here midway into an enhanced quarantine last April as people flocked to the Libertad Public Market, squeezing together in violation of orders to maintain social distancing.

It was as if a K-pop band had arrived.

To Ernie Pineda, a senior City Hall executive, people were awaiting a K, not the ones from Korea but the vegetable kind.

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Kalabasa.

Pineda said that was the day when kalabasa or squash made its way back here along with other vegetables that disappeared for at least a week after Mayor Evelio Leonardia ordered the shutdown of borders in April.

A YOUNG VENDOR tends to her fresh produce in the wet market section of the Burgos Public Market in Bacolod City. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.
A YOUNG VENDOR tends to her fresh produce in the wet market section of the Burgos Public Market in Bacolod City. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.

For a week, he said, vegetables from across the province cannot be delivered to public markets here as the city braced itself against the spread of the COVID19 disease.

This led to an increase in prices of fruits and vegetables that doubled, according to Pineda’s conservative estimate, as demand rose in this city of more than half a million people.

A FRUIT stand at the Burgos Public Market in Bacolod City is restocked with fresh produce after a month of enhanced quarantine. Prices of fruits in this highly-urbanized city of more than half a million people rose by at least fifty percent as a shutdown affected supply. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.
A FRUIT stand at the Burgos Public Market in Bacolod City is restocked with fresh produce after a month of enhanced quarantine. Prices of fruits in this highly-urbanized city of more than half a million people rose by at least fifty percent as a shutdown affected supply. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.

He did not provide any figures.

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The Philippine Statistics Authority reported in 2017, however, that the province had the lowest per capita rice consumption among six provinces in Western Visayas region at 114 kilos per person every year.

A LESS CROWDED public market in Bacolod City as people limit their movements here amid 16 confirmed cases in this highly-urbanized city. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.
A LESS CROWDED public market in Bacolod City as people limit their movements here amid 16 confirmed cases in this highly-urbanized city. | Photo by Rodney A. Jarder Jr.

The province also topped white potato consumption at more than a kilo per person.

By consumption of produce, squash topped in the province with 4.2 kilos per person, eggplant at 3.8; tomato at 3.5; and ampalaya, three kilos.

City physician Grace Tan, sought for reaction to the report, said it could not be confirmed, however, if the increase in buying is because of an increase in consumption or a result of small-scale resellers going into the food delivery business.

She added, however, that it is a good sign if people are eating more vegetables.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

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