Seven Spoons restaurant hosts a ‘Taste Sustainability’ dinner
On December 2nd, 2017, Seven Spoons restaurant hosted a seven-course dinner event entitled ‘Taste Sustainability’, with a menu of inventive and delicious dishes using organic, sustainably sourced ingredients.
The evening began with an informal panel discussion, as four specially selected speakers—three of whom were contributors to the evening’s fare—provided a fascinating overall perspective on the organic farming and food industry in Thailand. During the event those attending learned of the trials and tribulations, as well as the inspiring stories, of people who really are making a difference.
The first speaker was Janet Salem from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) who spoke about Think. Eat. Save, an initiative that targets food waste. Also on the panel was Peetachai Dejkraisak, CEO and co-founder of Siam Organic, a company that focuses on growing pesticide and chemical-free vegetables, maintaining both the health of Thai farmers and, in turn, the entire country. He explained how non-organic fruits and vegetables in Thailand are laced with unregulated chemicals that have a devastating effect on both the consumer and the environment in which they are grown.
The evening’s first course was sustainably fished calamari and green papaya from Kogama Organic Farm in Chonburi. From there we progressed to more “exotic” dishes—such as cricket flour gnocchi—followed by a dessert of delectable Mon sesame halva mousse (the seeds having been supplied by a company in the North of Thailand that provides jobs to migrant communities).
As the panel discussions continued we learned that market access is also a grave challenge for many small organic producers. Randall Ellis the CEO of Surin Farms (their pork and community-made pickles comprised the third course) opened our eyes to the realities of operating in a monopolized supply chain, as well as the intense bureaucracy necessary to be awarded the “certified organic” stamp.
Also on the panel was Abigail Smith, COO at food rescue foundation ThaiHarvest|SOS. This Bangkok-based NGO rescues surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, and redistributes it to those in need or sends it for composting. Although the importance of food waste prevention has been slow to develop in Thailand, ThaiHarvest|SOS has successfully established 22 regular food donors, literally rescuing tons of food. The versatility of leftover edibles was demonstrated in the evening’s welcome drink, as Seven Spoons’ signature Shrub Mocktail was cooled by ice cubes filled with chopped fruit rescued from a 5-star hotel breakfast buffet.
Although we learned the three largest meat producers globally produce annual carbon emissions equivalent to those produced by all of France (!) this wasn’t intended to guilt us all into veganism. Instead, the aim of the evening was to help diners reflect on their own daily food choices, making us question the origin of the foods we consume.
We left motivated to seek out those places that prioritize the quality of their ingredients, minimize their carbon footprint, and the support their suppliers (all of which Seven Spoons does as much as possible). Worryingly, we learned that many of the best 5-star hotels and restaurants in Bangkok don’t in fact use true organic suppliers at all, and serve the same hormone-pumped meat and genetically-modified vegetables as local street food vendors.
By Amelia Stewart