With supermarkets in every mall only a ten to 15-minute drive away, going to the palengke for our groceries isn’t always a first choice. The convenience in the proximity and cleanliness of supermarkets, as well as the certainty that the products you’re looking for are always available and kept fresh, may easily make up for the fact that supermarket prices are much higher than those at palengkes.
Still, there’s a lot to be said about the vital role that wet markets play in our community. As part of her advocacy for a holistic lifestyle, designer and biodynamic farmer, Hindy Weber is making it her family’s mission to set an example and encourage others to make going to their local palengkes a household practice. Read on to find out more!
Of course, the switch from supermarket to palengke may not be attractive to everyone. Even Hindy recalls being a long-time supermarket shopper. “The palengke was perceived to be ‘dirty,’” she says, “[But], when we started farming in 2007, having clean, fresh food became a priority.”
“It started off that I would look for farmer contacts and buy directly from them. Of course, we also farm our own veggies. But, we also needed some things we didn’t grow ourselves, [like] beef, seafood, some native fruits. One day, something just clicked and I made the commitment to buy from our neighborhood palengke to support the community where I live.”
With these realizations, Hindy and her family began making it a point to go to the palengke together every Sunday and urging others to pick up this household practice as well.
One great thing about going to the palengke is that it’s not just an opportunity to cut down on costs. It’s also a good way to start lessening waste. On weekly palengke trips with her four kids, Hindy skips single-use plastics and invites the vendors she meets to do the same.
As an alternative, she says, “Bring 2 coolers: for seafood and for meat/ poultry. Bring lots of bayongs.” This way, you’ll have sturdy containers to reuse for your next trip and the one after that too! Your kids will also learn to always look for more sustainable alternatives for the materials they use.
For Hindy, not knowing what will be available at the palengke is actually a plus. “I like to see what the fishermen and farmers brought in or foraged. For example, I love getting coconut milk, seaweed, and native fruit like small guava, small mango, kamias.”
After all, the best parts about going to the palengke are building relationships with local farmers and supporting their livelihood. By getting her kids to meet the vendors, Hindy aims to teach them social and entrepreneurial skills and about the country they live in and the food that goes on their tables.
“I also want them to see the bounty of the oceans and land and how it’s ever-changing and seasonal,” Hindy says. “I want them to have a raw and real relationship with food… if they’re going to eat meat, they need to see the whole carcass, not cleaned up cuts wrapped neatly in cling wrap.”
At the palengke, your kids will get hands-on experience buying fresh food and interacting with some of our country’s superheroes, the fishermen and farmers. They’ll learn not only where their food comes from, but also how their food gets sold. Your grocery trip becomes a biology class, a business class, and a language class, all-in-one! Plus, your kids are sure to go home with extra pro-tips on respecting and caring for both people and animals.
In fact, Hindy’s son Cody loved bacon but, she says, he “now has a real hard time eating it since he realized and saw for himself that it came from the pig carcass. He saw the whole face of the pig, and it made a real impact on him.”
All things considered, there doesn’t seem to be any downsides to going to palengkes. So, how does Hindy recommend you get started? Easy: “Look for the local palengke where you live. And then just go.” You, your kids, and your whole community will be so much better for it!