Urban Food Consumption in Metro Manila: Interdisciplinary Approaches Towards Apprehending Practices, Patterns, and Impacts

Food consumption is a local activity related to environmental impacts at different scales. Yet, the link between eating food as a social and cultural practice and the global implications of food consumption has not been sufficiently explored. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach to relate social practices with the biophysical flows of food products at the household level. Focusing on middle-class households in Metro Manila, the Philippines, we conduct qualitative interviews to highlight preferences, habits, and perceptions about food consumption. In parallel, we collect quantitative information on food purchased. We relate our results to national trends by analyzing the recent evolution of national food expenditures. Finally, we review environmental impacts related to main food categories. Our research points to the significance of socioeconomic factors on food consumption, notably the presence of domestic help or the professional situation of household members. One main finding is the identification of eating out as an important and growing trend in Asian cities, which causes a shift of resource consumption and related environmental impacts from the household to the service sector.

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