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!!!!! Reinventing Philippines street food

 
pollinator
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The food available for instant consumption along the roadsides, where I'm living, is some of the poorest quality slop I've ever seen. There are a few good roadside restaurants, but many more bad ones.

Massive amounts of salt and sugar are the main culprits, and sometimes outright fraud, where the vendor is calling something one thing but it is clearly something else. I bought a cup of orange juice which turned out to be an orange liquid, possibly tang.

Another one is buko juice which is supposed to be coconut milk. It is often a small percentage of that, mixed with water and sweetened condensed milk. I will only drink from a real coconut and they must open it in front of me. When I leave the leftover nut behind, the inner portion of the nut is scraped and served to other customers along with my backwash.

Overcooking and constant reheating due to poor planning are common.

Extremely poor sanitation and recycling of leftovers is common.
........
So, there's huge room for improvement.
........
Sticky rice is cheap and popular. It is wrapped in a banana leaf and it gets steamed, so one of the least likely things to give a person food poisoning. Vegetables and meat can be incorporated into sticky rice, for a street food that holds itself together. Many foods are served with a plastic bag or in some other type of plastic container that is typically discarded as litter.

People like hot dogs , sausages and fried pork. The worst hotdog I have ever eaten, was purchased at the mall nearby. My daughter had one that was lukewarm and she got sick.
........
I'm hoping to develop a few different types of street food that could be a retail outlet for farm production. Since I will be growing above average food, there's no way that I would want to just put it on the market for the middlemen to profit from. Better farms do this on Bohol and Negros islands. The crops are usually visible to restaurant visitors.
......
Making a little list of criteria for suitable candidate products.

1. Foods that are served boiled or steamed, wrapped in banana leaf, in banana leaf bowl or on a bamboo stick, will help to reduce the plastic problem that plagues this country.

The method of preparation just about guarantees food safety.

2. It must be cheap, to be of interest to local people. I sometimes go a few days without seeing another white person, so not trying to compete with the big resorts. Anything in the 50 peso range has a chance . That's $1 us.

3. This country is hooked on rice, so this must be part of most meals. Make it healthier by adding moringa, vegetables and spices. People who have traveled, have a wide variety of tastes. Those who haven't, almost always rely on salt, vinegar and sugar as the only flavoring. Diabetes is rampant .

4. To avoid overcooking vegetables, dishes  containing vegetables need to be partially pre cooked and then steamed or fried on demand.

5. Small amounts of meat, mostly pork, need to be heavily flavored and chopped up small, so that they can be mixed with rice and other ingredients. People want a meaty flavor and a rice price.

6. Some food is meant to be eaten at the table and this can be almost any consistency. Many people do not want to sit down because they are traveling somewhere. It's important that the food hold together, as a hot dog or sausage does and that it not leave the consumers hands or clothing covered in anything.

7. The presentation and sale must be idiot proof.... enough list for now.

 I won't be marketing the stuff myself. Nova has many relatives and former classmates who are at the bottom of society, earning wages well below the poverty line. Some of them will be employed as farm laborers, but when they aren't needed, their efforts could go towards marketing our surplus, which is made into street food.

The process must be something that is easily duplicated, where we can show them what to do and they can successfully do it on their own.

Most street vendors that I have met, are paid wages below the legal minimum.

I would only pay mine on a commission basis, which is legal and gives anyone useful a chance to make a much better living.

Every vendors stall is a retail location, which does not have to be limited to food sales. People sell sunglasses, used clothing and other things. Most don't have enough money to invest in something good, so instead they try to sell overpriced junk that they have paid too much for. Many people have signed up for various multi-level marketing schemes, and they present health and beauty products of dubious quality, where a complex supply chain, guarantees that you're paying too much. I've had people try to sell me little tablets of dried moringa, like a vitamin pill, when nice bunches of fresh moringa are available at the market for 10 cents.
......
We will sell the bar soap and laundry soap that we manufacture and we will probably get into making shampoo, lotions and toothpaste as well. People who earn 5 bucks a day, pay more for this stuff than I do in Canada. Anyone with locally produced cleaning products, can be dominant locally.

Vendors will be instructed on making customers aware that we have those products, without ruining the dining experience with constant attempted upsell.

 As a visitor here, I have been the target of many very poorly carried out attempts at marketing. The problem is almost always the same. They try to sell me various goods and services, without ever bothering to find out what I'm interested in. This is a common mistake amongst people who have never been taught how to sell things.
.......
So that's the plan, to market farm produce, using commission only salespeople. I expect that these people will live on the farm or very close by, and  they may be related to my wife.

I don't want any members of my wife's family to be reliant on me long term, other than two that have mental problems.
......
These pictures represent my first attempt.
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Dale Hodgins
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I sent this message to my family after cooking some things. Some may be a little redundant.
........
I did some cooking, to see if I could make a rice and bean dish taste like meat, with only 5% meat in the ingredients.

It's an attempt to make a street food that does not have plastic packaging. Only banana leaves and a few toothpicks make the package for a handheld treat that doesn't fall apart or get all over the customer.

It was very successful. I boiled a mixture of 2/3 rice and 1/3 mung beans. Cooked pork with lots of garlic and onions.

I made three different versions. One quite plain, one with lots of soya sauce and one with lots of curry powder. The soya sauce version was the hands down winner for flavor. It was much better after sitting in the fridge overnight. Flavor from a small amount of meat permeated everything.

It would hold together even better if I used sticky rice. That way more vegetables could be added and it would still hold together.

Most fast food comes in plastic packaging that finds its way to the street and the ocean. People are going to litter, so it's best for them to only have banana leaves and sometimes little bamboo sticks to drop on the ground....
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Holds together when unwrapped
 
Dale Hodgins
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I tried various wrapping styles and managed to use far less banana leaf than in Nova's little sticky rice creations.

The best wrapper that I came up with, wraps two portions that are rolled from opposite ends of a rectangular piece of leaf. A single toothpick hold it together. It can then feed one or two depending on how hungry they are and a simple swipe of the knife allows one portion to be sold separately.
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Too much leaf and too much labor
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I recently learned that fake rice now exists in some countries.
 
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Seems your meal ideas would be perfectly housed in a Japanese style bamboo Bento box = all natural, no plastic. Even a bamboo spoon/folk (spork) would be better than plastic.

Plus, they keep food at a reasonable temperature for quite a while.

Bento boxes come in a variety of styles, though the ones I got with food in Japan were made out of bamboo strips and were definitely sturdy enough to be used as take-away and most likely for some reuse by the customer = sales bonus.

Maybe the manufacture of these simple bamboo boxes and sporks would be another small cottage industry for a prospective entrepreneur with environmental concerns?

 
Dale Hodgins
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Fake rice. Next to gravel , rice is about the cheapest thing in this environment . I can't imagine what you could make it out of. Maybe they are making something that looks like a grain of rice out of low grade, broken  stuff.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Restaurants sometimes steam food in something that looks like a bento box. Nova tells me they are a high theft item, because they are worth many times the value of the meal that is served.

Some families have their own box and they use it to pick up takeout and other foods. It's the traditional tupperware. If you are invited to a pig roast it's a good idea to bring your own box , if you'd like an opportunity to take some home.

The majority of meals sold at the roadside go for between 40 and 80 pesos. $1 to $2. Many people can only afford to spend 50 cents on lunch. Two hours pay. The food is often consumed while people are walking or riding public transport. Containers are often ejected from windows. There may be some market for bento boxes , particularly if we got into catering events. Wedding caterers and others generally have their own boxes, which may be just for transport but they can also be used as serving dishes.

The majority of customers are traveling light and just looking for a meal, but I  suppose there's a chance that some would want to go shopping for a lunch box.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I tried again using sticky rice. We didn't have banana leaves, so I cooked it up in a Dutch oven.

It holds together much better than the first batch. Flavor is not affected. The sticky rice could have had a little more steaming, which would make it more firm.

I steamed this stuff in a Corelle dish. For bulk steaming, a multi-tiered steamer could be used. Meatballs like the ones pictured here could be placed on a banana leaf or they could be wrapped like in my first pictures.

 Disposable banana leaf bowls are another serving option that would allow people to stay clean. Simple rectangular split bamboo spoons are dirt cheap, all that is needed.

My cost on a full Dutch oven was approximately $4. It produced 12 large servings, that could easily bring 50 pesos, or about $1.

I am stuffed, and I eat larger meals than most people here. Many could get by, spending 50 cents.
......
Restaurants in North America, often have price structures that really punish those who can't afford the big meal. The guy who spends $10, gets four times as much as the one who spent $5. They have Mc Donald's and a few copycats here, who do this, but small roadside establishments, cater to the poor and would never get away with this. If meals are 40 pesos and someone only has 20 pesos, they will give him a half order, not a little spoonful. If he has nothing, they will let him scavenge leftovers, or create some little job, like washing the motorbike or peeling sweet potatoes. I will do the same. No matter where we set up, we will want to have a large plastic and other litter free zone. Clean neighborhood and come back for the expensive meal.  We will need to have the tables washed regularly. Vagrants and minor hustlers tend to spread out, offering services, so they can best maximize their efforts. They guard their territory, so just because I have one, does not mean that I will soon have 20.

I won't have anyone hustling my customers for change , but I will give them a bucket of hot water with a sponge, so they can clean tables or motorcycles for people who are eating.

 Sometimes, when I go to the market, I bring soapy water and a sponge. A boy who used to hustle me, for one peso, now knows that I will pay him 20 to clean up the bike. He does a perfect job and the bike is dry by the time I'm done shopping. This is enough money for him to get a decent breakfast and probably his biggest score for that day.
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pollinator
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I think that if you can engineer a quick bento box-style container with a banana leaf and some toothpicks, that would be a great quick fix. I wouldn't put any serious resources into making bento boxes unless you found a niche that you could exploit that solved their storage problem.

I don't know how banana leaf forms under heat, but I suppose you could get two nesting dutch ovens and try making heat formed bamboo plates and trenchers, and perhaps even bowls.

Dale, I think what you're doing is amazing. I hope it all works out for you better than you could hope.

-CK
 
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I most definitely but unintentionally at monkey meat when I was in the PI.  Yikes.   Pancit and Lumpia are so good but I'll pass on the baloot (SP?)
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thanks Chris. I have seen some very simple containers that can be built for less than 5 cents. Even that is too much, if it's a 50 cent meal.

The simple 2 in 1 roll can be made for 2 cents or less, if I were to buy clean, prepared banana leaf. That includes an uncooked banana leaf plate which is stiffer.

 It's more likely that my mother-in-law will prepare leaves from our own bananas. Sometimes from mature stocks that are harvested and sometimes from cleanup of suckers. I need to provide her with money, and she likes to make herself useful.

I have seen banana fiber being heat fused into disposable plates and cutlery, on YouTube. I bought some roasted peanuts in a leaf bowl that was fashioned by the lady selling them. There were several others selling the same peanuts and I made sure to tell her why I choose  hers. She is old enough to remember the arrival of junk food and all of the packaging. She hates what plastic is doing to the ocean and beaches.

Although plastic pollution is rampant, there are many people who don't like it and who would favor eateries that don't use it. These tend to be more informed people with more money, often those who have worked abroad. Important customers, not just because they have more money , but because they are often the ones paying the bill and choosing which restaurant, for family and friends.

...... Scott mentioned a food that is also an abomination. Baloot is a half developed duck embryo that is boiled. I don't think I will ever eat it. 😨

Nova makes the best lumpia. A deep fried pork roll with vegetables. Sometimes at the roadside they are just about hollow, so not something I bother with at restaurants anymore.

The most fraudulent street food I have encountered so far , was in a little town on Bohol . The lady had cut chicken into appropriate sized pieces for fried chicken , then she had cut off most of the meat and breaded it very heavily . Then it went into the deep fryer and looked very much like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but it was battered bones. A really weird thing to do in a small town where I was the only visitor. She's dealing with people that she will see many times over. One guy said something very loudly in Visayan and then fed his to a dog in front of her booth and stomped away.
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This week I got a new solar cooker and I'm going to try cooking banana leaf tamales in a day or two.  Though my banana plants aren't tall, they have large leaves.  Since it's unlikely I will ever get fruit from them, I'd at least like to learn to use the plentiful leaves.

I love the idea of banana leaf food packaging.
 
Chris Kott
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I encountered the sentiment of plastic packaging-as-plague in a documentary I watched in a series at the Toronto International Film Festival WaterDocs, wherein they discussed the crisis in the Ganges.

The practice of tossing the natural wrappers of the traditional snack foods into the Ganges wasn't an issue; it would wash up downstream and be turned into soil, probably in a space that naturally would house a reed bed system, so the nutrients of the discarded organic materials would go to feed the filtration system of the river.

Now, as with the beaches where you are, Dale, plastic is discarded and collects on the banks of the river, and at choke points, doesn't decompose but definitely breaks down into microplastic particles, and is washed out to sea.

Honestly, I wonder if there's a way that plastic-as-fuel for high-heat power-generating incinerators could be made into a currency of sorts for the indigent population, wherein they are encouraged to bring plastic garbage into a central location, where it would be incinerated for power, to fuel some profit-generating enterprise. The plastic would be converted, at high heat (so as to avoid dioxin production and other like ills), either directly, or broken down in a retort (although in a low-tech environment, simply plastic-to-energy would be the ideal choice, I think), and would become electricity.

I think it's the Swedish model that we need to take a look at. They are incinerating plastic in the way I suggest, and they are buying the plastic waste of other countries in order to generate their power because they don't generate enough of their own. I think that if we coupled that economic model with a plastic for goods exchange, we could essentially have poorer people bettering themselves and their countrysides, rivers, and oceans, opening themselves to greater opportunity while cleaning up the environment, and providing the building blocks to grassroots community building and enrichment.

And if such an idea were coupled to a Biorock-oriented reef revitalisation project, the burning of collected plastics could be used to support ocean infrastructure (reefs) that support the food webs that support offshore fisheries, to feed the people gathering plastics, and also to support the regeneration of the local ocean biome.

But back to the food and wrapper issue, you're absolutely right, Dale. I forgot the economic scale you're working with. When a five cent solution is just over two times too expensive, simpler is better. Plus, I think the solution looks quite elegant, personally. I mean, that's essentially a sticky rice dumpling in banana leaf that I'd order from a dim sum cart.

I love hearing about your world-changing, Dale. Just let us know when the locals overthrow the government and make you their permacultural overlord.

Just kidding. Nothing to see here. Go about your business.

But seriously, I think that it's exciting. You are in a position to do immense good on the regional scale. Not saying that you're doing this, but I think that even if it was a pyramid scheme, if it was permaculturally aligned, it would by necessity actually work as advertised, where everyone involved benefits across the board, and it is accomplished by selling to or recruiting others. But you're selling permaculture, and food from permaculturally aligned practices, and a mentality deeply steeped in the sort of practical permacultural principles that people who want to work hard and do well for themselves and others can really get behind.

And you are in a situation where culture and tradition have been relatively recently upended, from a historical and social perspective, and where some things that you have indicated, some systems and ways of thinking, are broken, and you are systematically addressing these issues in ways that are easy, and that are not only better for health and the environment, but also provide a financial leg-up to the participants, even if exchange were occurring on the barter level.

It's too bad nobody you are helping has political aspirations. After you develop and extend your influence throughout your region, that would be a natural progression. It's kind of crazy that by making a few small changes, you could impact upon and improve the lives of what, thousands of people? Tens or hundreds of thousands? I know that isn't your starting intent, but you're talking about building what is essentially a franchiseable street food operation that would also exist as a pop-up shop for your other goods. If your permaculturally aligned alternative products are as brilliant and suitable for the cultural context, and cheaper, or of much higher quality within the same price range, so as to be the better purchase, this could range quite far.

-CK
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:I recently learned that fake rice now exists in some countries.



Snopes has a detailed article about fake rice rumors dating back to 2011, but concludes:

Since the appearance of plastic rice rumors in 2011, we have been unable to locate any substantiated reports that anyone successfully passed off plastic rice off as the real thing regularly (or ever) in any of the countries in which the rumor took root.



It's worth a read because it quotes extensive press reports numerous that look very real, but which dissolve into "we are just writing up a persistent rumor" when examined closely for details and sourcing.  Anybody who was to read one of those articles casually or without reason for skepticism would likely come away thinking the fake rice was a real thing.

Dale Hodgins wrote:Fake rice. Next to gravel, rice is about the cheapest thing in this environment. I can't imagine what you could make it out of. Maybe they are making something that looks like a grain of rice out of low grade, broken  stuff.



The most detail Snopes could find is sourced from a South Korean online-only news site, which claimed to be quoting undisclosed press sources in Singapore for the proposition that the supposed fake rice "is made by forming potatoes and sweet potatoes into rice-like shape, then adding industrial synthetic resins."  This doesn't sound to me like it could possibly hope to be cheaper than actual rice!  But given the dodgy sourcing, I'm not wasting much time puzzling over how or if it could be done at a profit.

While we are on the subject of rice, Dale, would you be willing to expound and expand on the term "sticky rice" in your local context?  To me, it means something like sushi rice: roundish short-grained rice (sometimes called "sweet rice", although that's an agricultural reference to starch levels, not to do with preparation) that's been cooked and then treated (usually by stirring in a small quantity of vinegar, sometimes vinegar that's been lightly sweetened) to fluff the grains and make them sticky but very distinct.  But your photos seem to suggest that the rice you're talking about is not particularly short in grain, and in a few cases you've shown photos of it being steamed into a sort of glutinous log without much definition between the rice grains.  Is it "sticky rice" because of the type of rice and how it's cooked, or is it "sticky rice" because it's regular rice (whatever that means locally) that's been cooked up in a way that's designed to create that glutinous mass?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you Chris,  i will address some of those things a little later on. Chris is a no stone unturned type of researcher. I have already test marketed some of the plastic cleanup measures. Poor children will definitely clean up the awful mess around them , for a small piece of fried chicken or a deep fried banana, covered in brown sugar.

Sticky rice is also called glutinous rice. It becomes a complete slurry if stirred enough , with no definition between grains. Definitely a totally different variety of rice and not just a method of cooking. It is called glutinous because of the sticky nature but it does not actually contain gluten. Just a mix of water hungry starches. There are desserts that are an almost jello like material , although thicker.
.......
Tyler, that is a perfect use for bananas that don't fruit. In some countries, bananas only fruit in the lowlands , but highlanders still grow bananas for fiber and cooking leaf. You might want to check out Japanese fiber bananas. More cold tolerant, but they may not like your summer swelter. High quality fibers are turned into cloth that looks like silk. It is used to make kimonos.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Eureka moment !!!

Coconut shells are abundant and very close to free. After they are turned into charcoal, they are worth about 25 cents a pound. I would be very surprised if they cost more than one cent each.

Machines like the one pictured, are used to grind out all of the meat. So they are already pretty clean. They could be given a little bit of clean up then boiled and bagged.
.....
Everyone knows that coconut shells are the best wood for grilling fish and other things. Some people would save their shell and add it to the pile of debris that they will use for the next barbecue. Others might discard theirs along the roadside, but it wouldn't sit there long. People with hand carts gather up every useful piece of fuel, right down to the size of a popsicle stick.
......
I asked Nova if people cook anything in coconut shells. Yes, they cook sticky rice and sometimes serve other runny things in them. So, I asked why she hadn't mentioned this before. "You knew about coconuts already. You fed the dog from a coconut."

They come in a variety of sizes. In the city, ground up coconut goes for anywhere between 20 and 40 pesos depending on size. We used three of them last week. Typically, water is added to the ground up material and then it is squeezed dry, by hand. The fibrous portion , which I'm sure contains protein, since its a nut, is typically discarded or fed to animals. Animals in the countryside, garbage cans and rats in the city. The oil-rich liquid is used in many foods and also as a hair treatment.

I have made pancakes using the left-over material.
.......
The one pictured is large enough to hold a family sized portion. People often feed from the same plate but they like to have their own fork or spoon.
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Bananas for the leaves?
I live in an area with a large illegal Guatemalan and Honduran population.
They have done a lot to bring the neighborhood up, but that sane hustle means that they will probably be gone on to nicer neiborhoods in a generation.
The bananas that could survive here ,wouldn't produce fruit, but  banana  leaves are in demand.
Plus,  my church family consists of a bunch of green minded old hippies, and we are always looking for ways to cut down our waste.

 
Dan Boone
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Tyler, that is a perfect use for bananas that don't fruit. In some countries, bananas only fruit in the lowlands , but highlanders still grow bananas for fiber and cooking leaf. You might want to check out Japanese fiber bananas. More cold tolerant, but they may not like your summer swelter.



I live a state and at least a climate zone north of Tyler, and I only recently discovered those cold-hardy bananas that everyone calls Japanese fiber bananas.  (Despite the name, they are from mountainous regions of southern China originally.)  They are said to be frost tolerant to zone 5(!) in the sense that they will grow back hugely from their roots every spring, but of course they take more than our local nine-month growing season to make fruit (which isn't considered good anyway, being very seedy).  

I am planting them for experimentation, fun, and as a hedge against climate change.  (In mid-twentyfirst century America, tropics find YOU!)  My research says that the big challenges for my local conditions are keeping them watered well enough (they want constant moisture to grow well, I will need automated irrigation) and wind damage -- the leaves are prone to shred in strong winds, which we famously have a lot of here in Oklahoma.  But you can get $5.00 pups (baby banana plants) on eBay so I had to make the order.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Maybe you will be able to sell other people $5 pups. They grow plenty of suckers , so your headge could be a constant source of income.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Here's a crazy thing about the food system in the Philippines. It's hard to find good coffee and it's hard to find good chocolate. Both products are grown here , so it's just a matter of doing the footwork to find a supplier. In the case of chocolate , I'd like to make some. It's mostly imported low grade stuff that doesn't contain enough cacao.

Some really horrible cheese is available and several powdery substances called cheese, are sprinkled on French fries and other fast foods.

There's are socioeconomic indicators for obesity. Not the same as in North America where poor people are the fattest. Here , it's those who can afford lots of junk food and to go to restaurants like Mcdonald's and their copycats. Inside Jollibee, I estimate that half of the women are overweight and probably a third of the children, some extremely heavy. Fat children are used in television commercials for unhealthy foods, so they're not even trying to hide it. It may even be a status marker  , for kids to be chubby . This contrasts heavily with the groups of kids I've seen walking home from school in average income areas. The vast majority seem to be a proper weight.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Chris had some thoughts on the plastic problem.
.........
The best thing I can come up with, for burning plastic , is to use it to fire kilns.

 Almost everyone burns charcoal. There are various contraptions made out of clay that help people to burn less charcoal , because they contain the coals, concentrate the heat and prevent wind from blowing all the heat away etc.

These fire rings are made from clay that must be fired. Plastic burns hot enough to do this and when it is burnt at high temperatures, it burns much more cleanly. Plastic is currently disposed of by raking it into big piles along with leaves, chicken feathers and miscellaneous garbage, and setting it on fire. This results in a very smoky fire that is not hot enough. Just about every solution you can think of, would be better than this.

This country is comprised of many islands and even within those islands , there is often not a very good system for gathering or dealing with waste. It's hard to centralize anything. Many households and businesses shirk responsibility for their garbage and dump it on vacant lots or in public spaces. Almost everywhere is better than where I am currently, on the bad side of Mactan. But even rather remote areas have their share of plastic litter.

Kilns can be built anywhere that clay is available. It is quite low tech as compared to generating and distributing electricity. Most people could figure it out.

 This eliminates the need for central control over gathering and dealing with plastic. Each barangay office  (like a county), could issue licenses and keep an eye on what's going on. I can't imagine any scenario , where a kiln would produce more pollution than open burning in the streets does. And we get valuable products out of the kiln.

My method of gathering has already been tested. Children and hobos will gather waste in exchange for food. I expect that the cleanup of public space, will be my chief form of advertising and the way that I get whatever I want from local government. This would include a permit to operate a kiln or kilns.

I'm going to be in the fire wood and charcoal business, since I intend to cover most ground with trees. It makes sense for me to be the manufacturer of clay charcoal rings.
.....
People wear uniforms at all sorts of jobs. It's pretty cheap to get some shirts screen printed. So I'd want to have the clean up people, in a bright orange shirt, that says,  Clean Up By, Dale's Restaurant.  Or something similar.

Imagine a dozen little billboards walking the streets and doing something useful. This would be the same kids that are a pain in the ass, to everyone who tries to park their car or motorbike, because they try to hustle them for a peso. I've almost stepped on a few. You think you're alone , and then suddenly there's a kid with a really dirty face, trying to get something to eat. When they are given money it is usually converted to junk food. Real food is consumed immediately. I gave one kid a chicken drumstick. I went across the road and shared it with two siblings. So I gave them two more.

I have only used a few words in Visayan. The most important one is - trabao - which means work. I'm constantly telling kids that money comes from doing work.
.......
I suppose there some chance of me creating something that is franchisable, but probably unlikely. The moment anyone does anything successful, somebody sets up next door or close by doing the same thing. If I go to the closest 7-eleven to where I am right now, I could stand in their parking lot and see five places that sell fried chicken, within 150 feet.

 Here's something weird. By far the best place to get fried chicken that is fresh, consistent, not too salty and priced right, is 7-eleven. Better than any other place I've tried and I've been to numerous different locations. They don't make it on site. It is delivered in small batches , usually on the back of a motorcycle. There is no way it can all be coming from one spot, since that just couldn't happen with the traffic here. So, I assume that they contract with other restaurants.
........
Here is another type of food vendor. I call it bucket and scoop or bucket and ladle. Restaurants that make soup or stew, sometimes fill metal buckets with hot food that is then carried down the road by someone who has a stack of paper cups and a ladle or some other simple method of serving the food. The price can be as low as 10 pesos. They are like a low tech catering truck.  If I were to enter this market, it would probably be done from bicycles.
 
William Bronson
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Dan,  those banana trees sound like candidates for self irrigated planters/wicking beds.
A simple pit greenhouse might push the zone/season enough to get a fruit harvest,  and protect from winds, for what it's worth.
 
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I'd like to employ some child labor. This is legal or illegal , depending on where you check.

The government has a list of laws concerning this , that is highly variable according to what the kids are doing. So it will take a bit of research and legal navigation.

There are currently about 5.5 million child laborers in this country , many of them effectively prisoners or slaves. Nova was one of them, working at 8 years old at a roadside restaurant and sometimes being kept out of school.
........
We would like to offer a group of kids a much better deal. Probably about three hours of work each day , in exchange for having all school costs paid , a place to live and good food. This is about a third the amount of work that is common. It's not hard to find parents who would accept this , because they are the ones putting their children into sweatshops on plantations, out of economic need. But as a foreigner , I'm going to have to operate to the letter of the law.

The Philippines has very modern looking laws on all sorts of things , child labor amongst them. Nova was born after they ratified the United Nations rules against child slavery. Still there are millions of them.

The other day I read a bunch of stuff concerning operation of a motorcycle. Laws very similar to Canada. But in reality, it's anarchy on the streets. Bikes carrying five people with no helmets , children zooming down the roads on unlicensed vehicles, lane splitting, crosswalk ignoring, cutting through parking lots to shorten the trip.

Very little enforcement , and when I speak to people, most are unaware of some or all legislation. But they can tell you where the police checkpoints are. They mostly just want to find out if the bike is stolen.... When a Nova was a a child, it was her job to take a motorcycle to pick up the ladyboys who often host public events, from the bus terminal. On one occasion, she carried two rather fat ladyboys along with a big case of coke, to a fiesta party, on a small 125 motorcycle. Her feet did not reach the ground. The head of her Barangay office, a minor government official, sent her on these trips , because she could be relied on, to come back with the motorcycle and cargo.

It seems to be the same with child labor laws. What's legal doesn't seem to be reflected what goes on. I only see the ones employed along the roadside. The majority work on plantations or in food packaging and are not visible to the casual observer.

This isn't something we will pursue right away , but I think it's one of the best ways to get work done, while helping the most vulnerable.

I have no interest in running an orphanage or a charity. Most of these kids are going to have to work for a living. This way, they will come out of it with a high school diploma. The majority of child laborers don't finish grade 6.
 
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It's worse than I thought. A lady down at the main road, sells fish balls. She has access to the garbage from a large high school. I've been told that she salvages everything edible and grinds it up. She buys a small quantity of low grade fish and cooks that. It gets ground up and everything is thoroughly mixed with some flour and water. The balls are deep fried and people buy them, for 2 pesos.

Nova used to serve mango drink at a roadside eatery. It was a drink made largely of dry powder, with 1 tablespoon of mango puree in each cup. Mango skins and peels were visible near the container. I see this everywhere. Fruit milkshakes that are mostly powder , but with a few pieces of real fruit visible. Smoothies that start out as a whiteish eggnog looking mixture with a little bit of fruit added along with food coloring which matches the fruits color. Then far too much ice, to further reduce the chances of getting anything real in your drink. When purchased at the mall, a drink like this can cost 50 pesos, which is over a dollar. In a place where lots of people make $6 a day. 50 pesos is enough to buy two pounds of mangoes, so the really stingy, almost nothing quantity just doesn't make sense.

I've talked to a few local people about the price of food at the malls. I don't understand why people buy it. Four little dimsum blobs about the size of a large marble , $1 . The smallest piece of pizza you've ever seen with a microscopically thin layer of pepperoni and  shit cheese 75 cents. I wouldn't pay 20 cents for this at home.

One guy that I know, earns a little under 400 pesos per day. I earn about 13,000 pesos per day. We were talking about the possibility of him working in Canada. That's the only time I ever talk to people about our comparative incomes. We discussed the idea that I would never pay these prices for the junk food offered at the mall. Then we talked about how he could apply to work for Tim Hortons, where his starting wage would be about 4,500 pesos per day. It's easy to see why those who have some initiative, look for these overseas jobs.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:It's worse than I thought. A lady down at the main road, sells fish balls. She has access to the garbage from a large high school. I've been told that she salvages everything edible and grinds it up. She buys a small quantity of low grade fish and cooks that. It gets ground up and everything is thoroughly mixed with some flour and water. The balls are deep fried and people buy them, for 2 pesos.



Well Dale, that just put me off going to the Phillipines and buying 'street food' forever!

Recycled waste food sold as fresh??!! WTF!

Even in places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam they don't do morally contemptible things like that.
 
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This is a poor area near a squatter camp. In Manila there are restaurants based on Mcdonald's and KFC scraps in the poorest areas. The people eating this slop are migrants or the offspring of migrants who left behind farms with a 12 month harvest, to occupy the bottom rung in the city.
 
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I've seen some really, really poor food conditions in Peru and Taiwan too. The Philippines surely doesn't have a monopoly on it. Street food isn't the only thing to watch. I've had friends get very sick from eating at nice looking restaurants, including franchised ones.

One thing I've noticed when I went to street markets and night markets was the food vendors were always busy. People spend money for food, even if it's cheap poor quality food.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The unusual thing here is that most people are starting with good quality ingredients. They destroy it with all the sugar and salt and overcooking. A small minority in the poor areas, serve up leftovers.

By far the most expensive food, that isn't at some fancy hotel, is from chains that are trying to copy western fast food. You can spend four times as much to be more poorly nourished.

Many people have forgotten how to cook at home. They do it but with little plastic packets of spice and msg mixes. I'm in the city. I know it's not this bad in the countryside, because the roadside meals there are consistently better. Many are eating what they grow.
 
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Great post Dale.  The only times I ate street food was in Macatan and I bought it because I recognized the chicken legs being bar-b-qued.  Need to be careful with bottled water and make sure it is not opened by anyone other than you.  
I always got a kick out of ordering a coke and getting it served in a tall thin plastic bag but realize that this usually ends up on the ground and eventually the ocean.
Another use for coconut shells is to do a deep cleaning on a floor. Push a half shell around with your foot and it can scrape up what is there.
 
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Our floors are the cleanest that I've ever lived on in my life. Tile that is far too smooth and it's part of my evaporative cooling regimen. It is wet down every day and the water swept toward the bathroom drain. The fan is set up to dry it and cool the room. Every microscopic bit of dirt goes down that drain or collects in the trap.

I think coconut shell might be good for something like cleaning a large grill. I used it for that and for feeding a dog. We also used shell in the grill.

In Nova's home village, coconut shells are turned into charcoal that brings 8 pesos per kilogram. That's about 8 cents a pound and it takes a lot of shells to make a kg.
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Tile that is far too smooth and it's part of my evaporative cooling regimen. It is wet down every day and the water swept toward the bathroom drain. The a fan is set up to dry it and cool the room.



That must be wicked slippery Dale....does it dry up quickly?
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's an absolute death trap in bare feet, but not bad at all with shoes on. If this isn't done until after noon and the floors are warm , it dries up quite quickly and has to be replaced often.

One section of the floor is lower and water sits there , so quite often that's the only wet spot and I direct the fan downward toward it. The coolest place in the room is at the table that has the pond under it, with cool air billowing upwards after it goes over the pond and strikes the wall. I get the floor down to about 75 Fahrenheit each morning.

If we are leaving for quite a while, during the hot part of the day , I wet the entire floor and leave the fan on low and oscillate. The water is gone by the time we return and the floor is cold. We've left without doing this and the difference in concrete temperature is quite pronounced.

Any enterprise of mine that has a water source and electricity , will include a laundromat. Line drying is an evaporative cooler that you get paid to service.
 
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The coconut is a waste product, after milk extraction. I  used it in pancakes, with tasty results.

Nova tried it and immediately informed me that I had forgotten to add the bananas. Much more tasty bananas than I had ever eaten in Canada. She may have never had pancakes without bananas. Looked at me weirdly, when I told her it's common, to not use bananas.  "It tastes like wood".

The bottom one is her version,  which was much better.  "See, I told you." She says that a lot, in the kitchen. When I deep fried in oil that wasn't hot enough.  When my bitter gourd was way too bitter. "See, I told you."
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Dale Hodgins
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I forgot my glasses and fell victim to deceptive labelling.
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Dale Hodgins
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Bitter gourd scrambled eggs.

Green beans with moringa.

Exceptionally flavorful bananas.
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Dale Hodgins
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Nova is a very organized cook.

Every day she makes something that is really tasty and visually appealing. This is in extreme contrast to much of the slop available on the street. With every new meal, I'm convinced that we can do better.

Everything is cooked on our single burner hot plate. I have promised her a 4 burner stove with an oven. She has only used an oven once. She watches good cooks on YouTube prepare things, and then they pop it in the oven, and it's very frustrating.
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Dale Hodgins
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After things come to a boil , I usually turn it off and then turn it into an insulated hay box. I often simmer food this way. This saves electricity and prevents the stove from heating the house.

The last photo shows my method of reheating food in the absence of a microwave. Sweet potatoes were being boiled, so I used a Corelle plate for the food to be heated and another one to make a lid. Then a towel covers it and in 3 minutes there's hot food.

I never eat breakfast cereal, because there's always some of Nova's creation from the night before. She always boils rice or tubers early in the day, when I'm involved in evaporative cooling, so that the cooking heat goes up and out quickly. Nothing is cooked during the heat of the day. A big thermos stores hot water so that the kettle doesn't need to be operated often.

Our power bill was less than $10 last month. We have a stove, refrigerator, air conditioner and washing machine along with lights and a few minor appliances. Evaporative cooling, using the refrigerator as an icebox by not allowing it to run during the heat of the day, and hay box cooking have made this possible.
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