An Introduction to Mesa Ni Misis by founder Juana Manahan Yupangco
Mission & Vision
Mesa Ni Misis has been in the making for over two years. The idea stemmed from my frustration that healthy cooking was costing me so much. Many of the recipes I would find online required fresh ingredients that are not readily available in the Philippines, and if they are, come at a high price. I first started reading about the benefits of local fruit and vegetables when I was breastfeeding my son 8 years ago. All the leafy greens, such as malunggay and saluyot, had all the properties to increase breast milk. I wondered why growing up, we never ate many Filipino vegetables.
I started introducing local vegetables to my kids in the form of purees and later on sauces, mincing them finely so that they wouldn’t notice. I also noticed my food bill go down, the more I bought local vegetables and that they were readily available all year round. The more I read and experimented with recipes, my eyes opened up to the healing and medicinal properties our local fruit and vegetables have. Malunggay, guyabano, and mangosteen have recently gained popularity as the ‘new’ healthy fruit—fruit that Filipinos all have grown up with. I wondered, why weren’t we eating more?
The perception of eating local has a lot to do with how Filipinos think society views them. People in the lower income brackets are the ones who use formula milk and milk substitutes when feeding their babies, when they are the ones least able to afford them. Why? In the documentary Fed Up, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sums it up perfectly, “It’s the people who are least able to know whats good for their health who are the ones certain industries cater to and try to focus their advertising towards.”
Similarly, in higher income brackets, people have also been programmed to think that the western superfoods such as kale, broccoli, chia, and maca are superior to what we have in our own country. The truth is that our own superfoods are just as good, if not better. The problem is that no one talks about it and they haven’t been promoted in large scale media. Ever since kale became a popular food, farmers abroad have had to multiply their production of the crop. In the Philippines, our local farmers have next to nothing because no one consumes the crops they produce, because its not talked about or consumed.
I also noticed that many less fortunate people get sick by preventable diseases, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, which lead to complications. All of these illnesses start with lifestyle. Too much oil, fat, starch, sugar and alcohol takes a toll on our bodies. Cheap and instant food that is readily available by ‘tinge‘ or piecemeal, serves the under privileged because of the way they earn. Most people earn daily wages anywhere from P250 to P500 per day and budget their food according to what is brought home. They opt for instant food or low quality, questionable meat. We bust myths and old wives tales that many do not know. We are open to ideas and love working with communities.
My aim is to introduce recipes that anyone can appreciate, that are budget friendly. By using many local ingredients and crops farmed locally, the meals automatically become more affordable. We also come up with recipes using other vegetables, not native to the Philippines, but ones we know and love to eat and are grown locally. We try to create dishes for every occasion—everyday food, special parties and gathering, or if you just feel like rolling your sleeves up and cooking up a feast!
Our recipes are largely plant based. Why? Because plants are the source of nutrients and have many healing properties, are an affordable and sustainable food source. P250 for a family of 4 made with plant-based ingredients goes a longer way that with meat from a questionable source. In our seminars, we introduce concepts such as macro-nutrients, portioning, and basic nutrition. Of course, some recipes include Filipino favourites such as patis, toyo, and maybe the occasional bagoong—used in moderation, because what would home cooking be without that?
Aside from recipe sharing, we also aim to provide livelihood programs for the ‘Misis‘ or woman of the house, so she can provide an income without having to leave her family. I aimed for the Misis, because its mostly the wives and mothers who make the spending choices in the family, especially when it comes to food. They are in charge of taking care of the family and properly nourishing them. This is the reason Mesa Ni Misis exists. To love local food, grow local food, nourish our families with what has been so bountifully given to us, that in turn helps the people who grow our food. Eating local helps our countrymen, our environment—and ultimately ourselves as our food becomes our healer.
I hope you enjoy our site and learn and share with us.
—Juana Manahan Yupangco