Roadside Shopping for Produce


On the way down from a cebu mountaintop, we passed two ladies carrying large baskets on their heads, heading down steep foothpaths on their way to the city markets mal2with their recently harvested vegetables. We stopped the van and got out to find out what they were carrying… Turns out they had lots of malunggay leaves (horseradish tree leaves), tanglad (lemongrass), green papayas, alugbati (Malabar Nightshade), kangkong, etc. At PHP10 for a large bunch of malunggay and a huge bunch of tanglad, we decided to buy up almost half of the contents of their baskets! The produce had just been picked hours before and they all looked and smelled so incredibly fresh. The lemongrass blades were still razor sharp and the citrusy fragrance was out of this world. For PHP100, we ended up with an incredible amount of produce. It is always so much better to get produce as close to the source as possible and these ladies grew all of these vegetables themselves, harvested them, packed them in baskets lined with fresh banana leaves and carried the baskets on their heads on the way to the market… I gave them double the amount asked for the vegetables and with super wide grins on their faces, we headed on back down the mountain…



31 Responses

  1. Nothing beats fresh produce. That was very nice of you to give them double the amount; that gesture goes a long way for those folks I’m sure. Plus it encourages farmers to continue growing a variety of fresh produce for the public. Very well done, MM, you have a good heart we are proud of you.

  2. You made up these ladies’s day and put a bright smile on their face by paying them extra for what they asked for. Going home with extra bucks in their pockets. Bless your heart and may your breed thrive well! Their veggies are the freshest you can get – a stone throw away from their farm. The mighty power of banana leaves keeping the veggies immaculately green and fresh. Before the advent of plastic which is not biodegradable – I remember the butchers, fish and produce vendors – they all used green bananas to wrap up their merchandise with old newspaper. Gone were those days! I can tell these women really work on their farm – no sign of obesity or extra flab around their waste. They max out their metabolic rate. I should move to a farm and tilt the land myself and stay in shape. After certain period of time going to the gym my body develops resistance.

  3. It’s funny how I use to take for granted the times when the vendors would come up to our restaurant looking for my dad to sell their fresh produce. I am glad that there seem to be a resurgence of farmer’s markets in the U.S. and there is a strong movement now for buying local. So now Marketman, I wonder what you are going to cook up with all that delicious fresh produce ?

  4. Just glad to know that you apprecited their hardship, more power to you….Thanks for being nice to people who work hard.

  5. I wonder how far these vendors walk going to the market…their vegetables would have drooped under the heat of the sun. You made these ladies’ day and with your fresh produce at hand, a scrumptous meal awaits…..

  6. I remember the time when i used to go with my “Anda” (grandma) to make “bakay”. we were stationed in a makeshift bamboo and coconut “pala-pala” and wait for the farmers with produce especially during tomato harvest time, she’ll buy it from them and resell it at the market and that’s how she makes a living of her own. our station is near a river and you can see the farmers from afar on their horses, some on foot with baskets on their head.

  7. How did I know you were going to post this sequel? But seriously, mother was not a particularly pius person perhaps because no portion of her faith ever found its way to other things but malunggay. She promoted it with the zeal of an early Christian. Nursing mothers beat a steady path to our yard throughout my youth. She could almost miraculously whip up supper for us nine kids out of a few pieces of fried fish and ample malunggay leaves gathered from the top of slender trees that also served as hedging around our backyard. Shri Lankan stores here occasionally get shipments of them from Fiji, excellent flavour (some strains taste like patola) and a potent restorative when sprinkled on soup just before serving.

  8. MM, you’re looking very trim! so, what did you do with all that gulay? Apicio, did you know that they now sell malunggay in capsule form here for nursing mothers?

  9. mr mm,
    manok na lang ang kulang, may tinola ka na.
    More blessings to you and to those ladies too.

  10. MM the last pic shows your profile, hmmmm….makikilala kaya kita if ever makasulubong kita? the tanglad looks so fresh! im looking forward to the dish(es) you’ll have using all these produce.

  11. Those ladies had a little jackpot just encountering you that day :-). So many “little” people working quite hard trying to earn what they can for the day! I have many stories like that over here :-)! I also keep trying to grow a malunggay tree here kasi I cannot see myself buying a big amount of the leaves! I’m on the nth time caring for growing saplings! And I thought it was a piece of cake growing one’s own malunggay :-(!

  12. Sir MM, I really admire you for your generosity. Your experience reminded me of Mom’s encounter with a farmer in Bicol. They were selling a box of gabi tubers for as little as P20, so that he could go home. It’s really nice to buy directly from these people because they really deserve to get the profit out of their products.

  13. My apologies for being off-tangent but i just need to know where one can buy organic eggs. Ever since MM noted that commercial eggs are runny, i’ve wanted to use organic eggs for my “ambitious” first crack at Sans Rival for a birthday. I live in Mandaluyong, (a stone’s throw from Galileo Enoteca) a physical therapist in her early 30’s who loves to cook and bake. =) I hope you guys can help me out!

  14. You remind me of my dad. He used to buy from roadside farmer/vendors when he’s on the road, which was quite often when he was still with the DA. He’d buy everything the farmer has on sale para daw makauwi na sila and he’d give them manila prices, better daw that all the money went to the farmer than to middlemen. So it wasn’t unusual for him to bring home not several pilings of banana but a whole tangkay! sacks of garlic or onion, several liters of carabao’s milk, etc. Throughout his stint in gov’t service, he remained a farmer at heart.

  15. yes, memories of life in the province… my ancestral home has malunggay trees at the backyard, pamana pa ng lolo ko who’s gone already , bless his soul! I remember,every time they harvest the leaves my lolo will cut all the branches and planted them right away so that there will be new trees to grow. We grew up eating “malunggay sa gata”, I think that’s the only vege we ate as kids with matching fried fish.

  16. That was really nice to get those veggies fresh and on such a bargain price.. Sana may ganyan pa dito sa Manila (wish!).. Anyway, I wonder what you are going to prepare with those fresh produce.. I’m excited already..

  17. ZENA, i just got organic eggs from s & r at fort bonifacio. i heard that they have some too at the salcedo market every weekend. i hope this information helps.

  18. Millet, I was thinking along the same lines even from the Cebu view post. Is that a strong muscled back I see, MM? You’ve been working out!

  19. we do not use malunggay only for tinolang manok but also for tinowang isda being from the island of bohol.and yes,malunnggay soup is very good for nursing thing i also learned from the tambays sa kanto malunggay soup sans salt and other veggies is a potent pampa tanggal ng hangover .

  20. Risa and Millet, hahaha! you are so good for the ego… the photo of me on the mountain had a sweat drenched shirt, hence the weird profile, then I changed to a fresh white polo shirt for the ride back down and hence in this photo I am wearing a dry clean shirt… I have gained about 10 pounds since the James Bondish photo on the beach a few months ago… :)

  21. we also have some folks selling native vegetables around the neighborhood every morning. i usually buy fresh pako for only P5 per bundle… this is the beauty of living in the province, you get the freshest organic produce at the lowest cost possible :)

  22. we use malunggay for tinola back home (isabela). that’s what people do in the province. ladies carrying large baskets on their head and they go house to house.

  23. Zena, if you do buy “native” eggs at the salcedo market, or any other market for that matter, ask the other vendors and regular buyers who they recommend. One market regular I know who only cooks organic swears that one egg vendor dips the eggs in tea to make them look “farm-fresh”. So god knows if they’re truly organic/free-range…

    I do have another source of extra large organic eggs; will post the contact info when I get home.

  24. Great. I’m sure that they are organic. You’re lucky (am very envious). It’s hard to find cheap organic stuff. Lucky lucky lucky…

  25. Millet, not only malunggay capsules but malunggay ice cream too, MM do you make malunggay ice cream too? What is malunggay in english?

  26. annette, the english word for malunggay and a link to an earlier post on it are in the post above… And no, I haven’t even heard of malunggay ice cream prior to this post…

  27. A friend just opened a produce store selling organic mangoes, lettuce,coffee, free range chicken eggs, biodymanic vegetables from Baguio, red, black and brown rice from Davao. It’s called ISIP center Palma cor Manalac Sts, Poblacion Makati, 2 blocks from Ateneo Rockwell. I haven’t checked it out but it might have a lot of authentic organic stuff. The “organic” eggs I’ve bought in Salcedo were fake (dipped in tea I suppose). Organic eggs should have almost orange color yolks.

  28. goodtimer, thanks for that tip, maybe I can check it out in the weeks ahead… And for those that are curious, check out this link to an earlier post I did on regular vs. organic eggs, the difference should be visually and tactile-y very apparent… bummer on folks faking organic eggs, I’d like to dip them in tea for a while…

  29. MM here in davao Norte kids and adults alike would vend their fresh veggies anywhere…they’d knock at our gate at home and sell orange hued kalabasa,upo,sitaw,talong and its very cheap…sometimes kids would come inside my shop and sell me pako fern for only 5pesos a bundle…and some people from the province would sell live native chickens at only 80-100 pesos per piece….I like living in manila but coming home here in the province made me healthier and eat better.



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