Happiness with Por Peang Life #1


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Notes on Video: Thai Language Only, From Moo Baan Jumrung in Rayong province

In the village of Jumrung in Rayong province, the children are following the same principles of backyard vegetable gardening that has been practice for generations. Whenever the children want to eat any of the fruits, vegetables, leaves or flowers that are grown surrounding their homes, they can pick them whenever they want. Some of the edible plants grown on their own and some are grown intentionally. Furthermore, the children know the uses parts of the different plants that are grown.

Rice is the staple of the Thai diet and the fruits and vegetables in the backyard garden provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for strong and healthy bodies. This ensures that the people of the household have good food to eat, even in the leanest of times. Not only does the edible plants cultivated by the families provide for the basis of a good diet, any surplus can be sold for extra income for the household.

The Dinner Garden Improving Food Security

Raised bed of lettuce, tomatoes, 6 different t...
Image via Wikipedia

As I started reading more about vegetable gardens, especially urban gardens, I began to see the link between gardening, food security and poverty. Even in the US, many families struggle to eat healthy because packaged foods are more readily available in urban settings and often are more costly. But, the negative side effects of the lifestyle and eating habits which have resulted are plaguing the US population with health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth. We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables, but the modern city lifestyle simple isn’t conducive to it.

As people are increasingly realizing this link, more and more people have begun to start urban gardens to increase their ability to easily integrate fresh produce into their diets. For urban apartment or condo dwellers, the garden may be a few plants in containers. For urban or suburban home owners or dwellers, they may have room for a small in-ground or raised bed garden. Some lucky urban residents may have access to a community garden where they usually have more area to work with in collaboration with a group of other urban gardeners.

The Dinner Garden is a non-profit focused on increasing the trend of people to grow their own fruits and vegetables, even in small areas. They distribute seeds for free to families and school children in an effort to encourage gardening and increase food security for families across the US. As any teacher or parent knows, eating fruits and vegetables is extremely important for children’s development and studies show that it can improve energy and brain function. By getting kids involved with gardening at a young age, it can help promote healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

The Dinner Garden has accomplished so much since their beginning in 2009 and the work they are doing is amazing. Check out their website or read some other blogs which feature this organization.

Other blogs on The Dinner Garden: http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/the-dinner-garden-free-seeds-tips-tools/

http://lifeonthebalcony.com/interview-with-holly-hirshberg-from-the-dinner-garden/

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2010/11/28/the-dinner-garden-has-provided-seeds-to-48000-families-since-2009/

High food prices in 2010 – Grow your own veggies!

In 2008, food prices soared,along with fuel prices, reaching their highest level in 30 years. This created the worst food crises in recent memory. In 2010, food prices grew again, amidst natural disasters and drought hitting countries around the globe. Of course, high food prices make farmers happy, as it encourages them to plant more crops. But, what is the typical consumer to do when food and fuel prices continue to rise.


Source: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/

One answer to this problem to grow some of our own food. This can be done, even on a small scale, if one can grow vegetables and herbs in containers or a small garden. All it takes is a little soil and a little care to grow your own food.

Luckily, in Thailand, we are blessed with great conditions for growing food all year round. It’s been said that you can throw seeds on the ground and things will just grow. However, to get a good production of vegetables, it’s best to do a little preparation to make sure you are improving the conditions for your plants, since it will all determine the quality of the products that you get out. You need to “feed” the plants for them to produce well.  It’s all going into your body, so we want to grow high quality vegetables.

Of course, when you grow our own vegetables you do not want to use pesticides. This is another benefit of growing your own vegetables. Many growers use pesticides to make sure their crops are unblemished since those are the beautiful fruits and vegetables we all look for when we got to the market. Some of the crops which use the most pesticides are watermelon and cabbage (at least in Thailand.

If more people grew their own food, it would help promote food security and development. As we saw with the recent flooding, there are times when food production areas are hit by disasters, thereby reducing the supply of food at those times. In think this idea is something that is well promoted by HRH King Bhumphipol’s Sufficient Economy (Por Peang) and goes in line with leading a sustainable lifestyle.

It won’t solve all of the problems resulting from high food prices, but spending a little less at the market each week will all add up.

Common Fruits in Thailand

Some Dragon Fruit sliced at the market, with a...
Image via Wikipedia

Tropical fruits (phon-la-mai) are easily grown in Thailand due to its warm climate throughout most of the country. There are many indigenous fruits that are mainstays of the Thai diet, such as bananas, durian, mangoes and pomelos. Thailand also has many types of fruit that are not native, such as grapes, starfruit and dragonfruit. There are even vineyards in many valley areas of Central Thailand.
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Thai often eat fruits are  as a dessert or a snack. Fresh fruit is often sold prepared and ready to eat. You can buy a plastic bag full of fruit pieces with a wooden skewer for picking them up. Most bags come with a little bag of seasoning that can be salty, sweet and spicy. Thai people like a balance of flavors and fruit is no exception.

INDIGENOUS THAI FRUITS

  • Banana (Kluai)
  • Durian
  • Langsat
  • Longkong
  • Thai Mango (Ma-muang)
  • Thai Orange (Som Keow Wan)
  • Pomelo (Som O)

TROPICAL FRUITS GROWN IN THAILAND

  • Custard Apple (Noina)
  • Grape (Aa-ngoon)
  • Guava (Farang)
  • Jackfruit (Kanoon)
  • Jujube (Put-Sa)
  • Lychees (Linchee)
  • Longan (Lam Yai)
  • Mangosteen (Mangkoot)
  • Papaya (Malakaw)
  • Pineapple (Sapparote)
  • Rambutan (Ngoh)
  • Sapodilla (Lamoot)
  • Water melon (Taeng Mo)
  • Young Coconut (Mapraow On)
  • Dragon Fruit (Kaew  Mang Gorn)
  • Starfuit (Mafurng)
  • Pomegranate (Tuptim)
  • Santol (Katorn)
  • Zalacca (Rakam)

Mad About Juice

One of my favorite places to grab an all-natural 100% glass of juice in Bangkok is Mad About Juice. It resembles the familiar chains of Juice It Up or Jamba Juice in the United States, but promotes even healthier serving sizes and many more variations of pure juice. Mad About Juice is often found in Bangkok shopping centers such as Emporium, CentralWorld and Paragon.

While most American juice stores focus on smoothies, Mad About Juice offers different categories for you to choose from like drinks with yogurt, mik, without milk or simply juice. This is really helpful for those with milk allergies or are looking to reduce calories.

My favorite are the 100% pure juices and I especially like the Slow Age drink. I love the different fruits and vegetables that they blend together to make the drinks. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the great taste whenever I try a new drink. As I said earlier, the servings are smaller than the American counterpart, but juices and smoothies made from fruit contain enough natural sugars that one should be careful of consuming too many liquid calories.

For those more adventurous than me, try the wheatgrass shot. I think it smells horribly like grass and haven’t yet forced myself to try one. It is claimed to have the benefits equivalent to eating one kilogram of vegetables. I’d have the orange or pineapple juice chaser to follow the wheatgrass shot, just to get the grass taste out of my mouth.

Ice Monster at Major Pahonyothin

After watching a movie at Major Cineplex at Pahonyothin, I ventured to the ground floor where I found an Ice Monster store. Located adjacent to the Starbucks and across from the McDonald’s, the Ice Monster appeared to offer a healthier alternative to sweets like ice cream or bakery goods. Ice Monster is a franchise from Taiwan that has a menu of appetizing fruit or chocolate with snow ice.

Bangkokians are always looking for a sweet treat when out and about in the city and Ice Monster provides the sweet taste of milk and fruit in an ice indulgence. Although the desserts at Ice Monster are not completely guilt-free, they do seem a bit healthier if you stick with the teaser size. The large size seems rather large for an individual to eat, but it is suitable for sharing. Other less healthy version of ice available are the ones which involve lots of chocolate or toppings.

The fruits in the ice monster products were fresh and seemed to be of high quality. You can even get two fruits or a mixed fruit topping if you can’t choose which fruit to put on top of your snow ice. The taste was great, but I’m sure the sweet milk in the snow ice and sugary condensed milk in the topping helped make it even better. Like I said, Ice Monster desserts are not complete guilt-free!


Chantaburi Fish Market

While on a weekend trip to Sattahip, we drove past Klaeng and Rayong to another seaside village on the Gulf of Thailand, Chantaburi. There we walked through a nicely preserved mangrove forest at Kung Krabaen Bay (“Stingray Bay”) before heading back to Bangkok. On the way out of Chantaburi, we stopped at a fish market at the intersection which has a statue of three large dudong (similar to a manatee) in the middle.

The market consisted of a few few vegetable and fruit stands as well. This is were the locals would buy most of their groceries and some household items. The produce is mostly local, although most of the fruit is from other areas. They even had “yum kung,” or spicy rock lobster salad.

We stopped to look at the seafood in case we wanted to buy some fresh shrimp, squid or saltwater fish. My father saw one of the seafood vendors had live “poo dum,” or black crab and decided to buy one bunch. There were 7 large crabs all together and we paid a mere 280 baht for approximately 2 kilograms. In the Bangkok area, expect to pay closer to 300-350 baht per kilgogram.


We also saw a banana fritter vendor and bought a small bag for 10 baht. It was a tasty snack for us to eat in the car on the drive back to Bangkok.






 


 

Pomelo Liquor Rise In Popularity

A new Thai product is increasing in distribution. It is a brandy made from the pomelo fruit. A pomelo is a citrus fruit often mistakenly called a grapefruit. It is actually much sweeter and has larger sacs than a grapefruit. The liquor is now available at select International airports and hotels in Thailand.

From the Nation newspaper in Thailand.

Fruit liquor sells well

Sawasdee Brewery, a producer of pomelo liquor, is reaping the fruits of its creativity. The product has proved popular with tourists after being on the market for only a year.

Published on December 11, 2007



The company is asking Bangkok Airways, the operator of Samui Airport, to distribute the liquor there and at U-Tapao Airport, near Pattaya. A deal could be signed this year, managing director Pacharaporn Kerdkaewfa said.

The drink is available at King Power Duty Free at Suvarnabhumi Airport and its downtown store.

Orders are received from hotels in tourist destinations such as Phuket.

Pacharaporn decided on pomelo for the fruity brandy because she lives in Nakhon Chai Si district of Nakhon Pathom, home to the country’s best pomelo. The beverage comes in a specially designed bottle.

“I wanted to market a unique product. The company’s target buyers are tourists with large incomes. At the beginning, I wanted to sell it at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which accommodates more than 40 million passengers a year. I sent the liquor to the purchase department of King Power for testing and they accepted it,” she said.

Pacharaporn said Korean and Russian tourists especially liked the brandy.

At present, the company produces 5,000 bottles a month but can increase that.

Besides Suvarnabhumi, she plans to sell at other international airports.

She wants to distribute to Chiang Mai and Phuket airports’ duty-free shops.

“My company’s gone further than I expected. It is growing after just one year,” she said.

Sawasdee will make a dragon-fruit gin next year.

She hopes Thai Airways International will stock it on its flights. She said this was a good way to promote fruity liquors.

Sawasdee manufactures spa products made from coconut and pomelo, such as coconut oil and pomelo scrub, she said.

“Liquor and spa products are in the same market. Both are distributed in hotels and high-end pubs,” she said.

Nalin Viboonchart

 The Nation

Hygenie of Street Fruit Vendors

One of the nice things about Thailand is that you never have to carry food and water with you. Everything is so easy to by while on the go, especially in Bangkok. I never bring lunch to work unless I’m craving a particular homemade item. If I want something in particular for lunch other than what’s avaliable in the cafeteria, it is really easy just to go out to a local noodle shop or one-dish restaurant. As a rule Bangkokians never cook for themselves. It’s just too easy to go out and buy something instead.

Every morning at around 9 or 10 I’m likely to be sneaking away from work to get a little something to eat or drink. A short drive or 10 minute walk away from my work is a mini-mart, food court, pharamacy and street vendors collected in an area called “Soi 39” by the main street. It’s here that I get my caffeine fixed when needed or satisfy that weird craving. It’s also the place where I can get fresh fruit at one of those 3 wheeled carts with fruit on ice.

If you ask me about the sanitation of these street fruit vendors, I’d say that it is most likely pretty clean because it’s cut and put on ice before it’s sold to you. The only scary thing about these fruit carts is the actually person handling the fruit. Some vendors are pretty handy and don’t ever even touch the fruit. Instead they use a bamboo skewer to stab the fruit of you choice, put it in a plastic bag and then cut the fruit through the plastic bag with a knife. You’ve got to see it for yourself. These are the most skilled of the fruit vendors and I prefer these fellows to any others. Less dexterous vendors might have gloves on their hands for touching the fruit. These vendors are acceptable as well, although not as cool to watch, as the level of hygiene should be adequate.

I would only worry about one type of fruit vendor and that the fruit vendors that handle the fruit with their bare hands. Generally these street fruit carts aren’t equipped with proper hand sanitizing equipment (ie. soap and water) and more often than not the vendors wipe their hands on a damp cloth. If the vendor is touching the fresh fruit that you are going to eat without any type of protection, I’d feel slightly wary about putting that fruit in my mouth. Let’s not even consider if he washed his hands after visiting the restroom.

So that next time you by fruit from a street fruit vendor, notice his fruit handling technique. You might find yourself buying fruit from one fruit vendor and not other. Thankfully, most fruit vendors that I’ve encountered are the more hygenic variety. This is probably because a sick customer won’t come back and buy fruit from you.