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Features 2 minutes 22 March 2019

The Thai Organic Food Trail

From emerald rice paddies down to towering coconut groves along the coastal provinces, agriculture touches on every aspect of the Kingdom’s landscape. Around 40% of the Thai population still depends on farming for their livelihood, making safe and sustainable methods more important than ever. Likewise, as Michelin-starred restaurants and humble family-run eateries alike desire to serve healthier and environmentally conscious food, Thai-based chefs have prioritised organic ingredients in their menus.

Saawaan restaurant (1-Michelin Star, Michelin Guide Thailand 2019) is known for using organic ingredients. “We want to support our small local producers who avoid chemicals both for vegetable and animal farming,” says Head Chef Sujira "Aom" Pongmorn. Saawaan uses organic rice and eggs from places like the Tan Khun Organic Farm to complement their modern Thai cuisine. “People who dine at Saawaan can be safe in the knowledge that they are eating nutrient-dense dishes that contain no chemicals.” Chef Aom adds, “We embrace local Thai farmers who are committed to producing the best ingredients. They produce, and we share it with our customers.”

Chef Aom from Saawaan.
Chef Aom from Saawaan.

To be certified as an organic farm in the Kingdom of Thailand, no synthetic chemical fertilisers, pesticides or hormones can be used in the growing or harvesting of produce. Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand (ACT), under the recognition of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), regulates and accredits many of the organic farms within the Kingdom. They ensure safety and quality by keeping strict standards that begin up to 36 months before the first seeds are planted.

Organic Certification Logo.
Organic Certification Logo.

Thailand is home to many wonderful organic farms that are open to visitors. Within a few hours of Bangkok in the nearby provinces of Ratchaburi, Petchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan are farms that make excellent day trips whether you seek a fun family day, educational excursion or gourmet experience.

Family Outing in Ratchaburi
Just an hour’s drive from central Bangkok, “Rai Pluk Rak” in Ratchaburi allows visitors to personally experience the processes of planting and harvesting organic fruits and vegetables. The farm holds both ACT and IFOAM certification and offers organic workshops for all ages including making salted duck eggs, ice cream and herbal tea. Visitors can enjoy a healthy lunch of freshly-picked produce from the farm with casual Thai dishes like yam wun sen (spicy mung bean vermicelli salad) and po pia phak sot/thot (fresh or deep-fried vegetable spring rolls).

Vegetables and Products from Rai Pluk Rak.
Vegetables and Products from Rai Pluk Rak.

Educational Excursion in Petchaburi
One of the most recently initiated Royal Projects in Thailand, Chang Hua Man in Petchaburi is an organic farm, wind farm and dairy farm under one roof. To learn more about the project’s objectives, there is an informative electric bus tour. Alternatively, visitors can take a free bike to see the landscape at a leisurely pace. The farm grows experimental crops to benefit local growers throughout the kingdom, with more than 40 species of fruits and vegetables, rice paddies and rubber plantations covering the 250 rai (99 acres) of land. One of the highlights here are the free-range Holstein Friesian dairy cows that roam the area and can sometimes be spotted grazing under the modern wind turbines. After visiting, be sure to head to the nearby Golden Place shop that sells organic produce, snacks and milk from Chang Hua Man.

Chang Hua Man Royal Project.
Chang Hua Man Royal Project.

Gourmet Experience in Prachuap Khiri Khan
Going further south, “The Boutique Farmers” in Pran Buri district is known for supplying local produce to many of Thailand’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Owner—and a chef himself—James Noble understands the desire of other Thai-based chefs to get locally grown and organic produce for their menus. “Organic is important, but low carbon is far more important,” says James. “If you import organic products from overseas, it negates the organic growing.”

His plot of land now provides a variety of fruits, vegetables and edible flowers to restaurants; such as Paste (1-Michelin Star) and Sühring (2-Michelin Star). Chefs seek him out for rare organic products that are difficult to find elsewhere; like Swiss rainbow chard, lavender, edible pansies, chili peppers, and forgotten herbs from both Thailand and Europe. Aside from being able to tour the farm, visitors can also indulge in fresh weekly menus and Sunday brunch at the farm’s restaurant cooked by James himself.

James Noble, Owner of The Boutique Farmers in Pranburi.
James Noble, Owner of The Boutique Farmers in Pranburi.

A trip to these farms provides an exclusive glimpse into the work required for Thai growers to create sustainable food sources. As an added benefit, organic farms can be visited year-round and by people of all ages. Even the youngest children are safe from any chemicals that would have been used in traditional monoculture farms.

While championing organic food has many long-term benefits for the environment and the country, perhaps the most tangible one lies on our dinner plates. From farms to fine-dining, the fact that Thailand’s local produce can be trusted for both flavour and quality is a comforting thought.

This article is brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand.
To know more about Tourism Authority of Thailand, please visit https://www.tourismthailand.org/

Addresses:

Saawaan (1-Michelin Star)
39/19 Soi Suan Phlu,
South Sathon Road, Thung Maha Mek,
Sathon, Bangkok 10120
Tel. +66 (6) 3370 1991

Rai Pluk Rak Thai Organic Farm
130 Mu 1, Wang Yen subdistrict,
Bang Phae district, Ratchaburi
Tel. +66 (0) 8 6332 7365

Chang Hua Man Royal Project
1 Ban Nong Kho Kai, Khao Puk Sub-district,
Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi 76130
Tel. + 66 (0) 3247 2700

The Boutique Farmers
Pak Nam Pran, Pran Buri district,
Prachuap Khiri Khan 77220
Tel. +66 (0) 81 266 7800

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