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Phuket Organic when from words to reality?

Phuket Organic when from words to reality?

Phuket Organic when from words to reality?

Pura Organic Foods Ltd was established in 2010, when we were the first and only local company to offer certified organic and healthy products. We were ready to make Phuket Organic!

In those early days, we did a lot of talking, a lot of education, a lot of explaining when trying to convince many, even the hospitality industry on the island that organic was a better choice, their high-paying customers deserved better.

Kitchen of the world

Thailand is globally known as the ‘kitchen of the world’, exporting many agricultural products. Of course, our sense when we arrive here is that we are going to be in healthy food heaven, delicious fruits, etc. Unfortunately, you could say it is almost the other way around …

Many in the farming sector here use excessive amounts of chemicals: pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other unhealthy products used sector-wide in farming nowadays. (Even rumors of the use of DDT in agriculture still abound.)

To underline this, Thailand is one of the biggest importers of pesticides in South-East Asia and these imports continue to grow.

The poor Thai farmer…

… is pressured to produce more and more and has learned to do so by using ever more chemicals.  Even to the extent that it impacts their own health; it is a known fact that many farmers have suffered amputations because of the effect these chemicals have on their legs, arms, fingers, etc. Ask any person from a farming community in say Isan (North East Thailand).

We have travelled throughout Thailand in search for trustworthy organic farmers and cooperatives; not only to see if the farmer himself has an organic heart and mind-set but also to visit and check out the farms to see where they were located, who their neighbours were, and if these neighbours were using chemicals, which could impact the organic correctness of these organic farms.

Organic Thailand

We also visited many farms certified by the “Organic Thailand” certification, a local Thai certification standard,  which we now understand has been discontinued whilst a transition to a new standard is supposedly being worked out. However, the basic reason is that many of these farms were not worthy of  the official organic certification. Also many laboratory tests confirmed that these so-called organic products remained full of pesticide residues.

A disappointing farm visit…

A supermarket well known for its organic products was offering nicely packaged, certified-organic products from a farm in the region. I decided to visit this farm in my quest to find more good organic suppliers.

Upon arrival, I found its land was completely ruined, with no products growing at all; heavy rains and storms had destroyed its production. However, this farm still packaged products in their own packaging to offer these as organically produced for sale in supermarkets: products that definitely did not come from their organic certified farm. I leave you to form your own conclusions …

Another negative I found on this farm was that neighbouring farms were using all the pesticides they could find. But the farm manager explained that they protected their crops by putting banana trees between their farms. Who are they kidding?

Food Labels

Over the years, many newspaper articles were published concluding that labels as “Organic Thailand”, the Q brand (Q from quality), and the “Hygienic” didn’t mean much. Lab tests concluded that many products were loaded with pesticide residues and at considerably higher levels than those safely allowed around the World for human consumption.

Luckily, there are also many serious organically-minded farmers who work with a foreign organic certification standard (USDA, European, Japanese, Australian, etc); a certificate that is checked each year by a representative of the origin country. These labels are much more vigilant and strict; they check a lot more including the administration, and can be considered trustworthy.

Click for another article on this subject

Back to Phuket Organic…

Contrary to the belief that that health is achieved through sport or exercise, there is a globally increasing awareness that good nutrition is an even more important factor for good health.

Many restaurants, detox centres, health centres are joining this trend and shout organic; some stand by this but unfortunately many do not actually use organic products.

The arguments used for not using organic while their industry should are ‘justified’ with statements as: “There is no clean food on the Phuket” (Why are they here?); or “too expensive” (and their rooms and detox rates are not?); or “What they sell here on the island is not organic” (please come and check and let us have a talk first). Even one, whom I challenged about their use of the word organic, answered “Organic, Hydroponic, same same …” Need I say more. It’s all about the money, money, money.

Detox with toxins ? Who are you kidding ?

I think most people understand the inescapable logic that you cannot detox with toxins. Putting toxins from pesticide residues left on conventional food into your body to detox (i.e. to try to get rid of toxins is an oxymoron). It sounds a bit like cleaning your kitchen with crude oil. I guess money is money and profits are more important than ethics; it is difficult to come to any other conclusion.

Again… be careful out there…

All I would like to say is just to be careful out there. Sometimes intentionally but many times unintentionally these statements about their offerings of healthy organic products are confusing.

If it is important for your health just ask the shop, the restaurant or resort, where you would like to order healthy food, if they have seen or even better can show you the organic certificates to confirm it really is organic; if the waiter does not know, ask him/her to call the chef.

Someone suffering from a terrible illness like cancer, who needs clean food, is most surely entitled to do so. But so is everybody entitled to be treated correctly and honestly.

Activities to Pesticide risk reduction

The increasing number of pesticides applied in Thailand to control pests in farms in order to increase agricultural production has been a trend over the years. In fact, Thailand ranked third of 15 Asian countries in terms of pesticide use per unit hectare and fourth in annual pesticide use (FAO, 2008) whereas the agricultural products per unit area of Thailand were relatively low as compared with other countries. Therefore, health problems, incidence of acute pesticide poisoning among agricultural workers in Thailand ranked first out of the four Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Srilanka and Thailand (FAO, 2008).

Some research shows that there were about 49,000 to 61,000 reported cases of pesticide intoxication each year with morbidity rate between 76.4 and 96.6 per 100,000 populations.

Phuket Organic will it ever go from words to reality?Phuket Organic?

Over the years we have seen organic items offered on many menus: at the highest quality super star resorts to the best known restaurants, to many detox centres but also health centres, which were all calling their offerings organic but simply were not or even could not be.

Misrepresentation is commonplace, why?

The reason behind this is of course commercial and grossly dishonest. It certainly looks good to offer Phuket Organic produce; it is strong marketing and very much appreciated by many of the consumers. If you want to take care of your health or suffer from some disease you need to be careful and check and verify what you are being served.

We have had many instances of customers, guests of certain high quality resorts or restaurants, who have asked the Executive Chef of the establishment where they buy their organic-specific products from, which they claimed as healthy. They have been told that they bought these from Pura Organic Foods Ltd.      BUT NO THEY DIDN’T!

Proud

Pura Organic Foods Ltd is very proud that it is being used as the quality standard for “Phuket Organic”. It shows how our good reputation has spread. However, in far too many instances our good name is being abused by reckless profiteers. Go organic please, but do it for real. Visit Pura Organic Foods first. Again be careful out there!

Martin

PS I started over 25 years ago to opt for organic food; not specifically for health reasons but simply because it tastes better. Having used organic foods as an important part of my diet has probably helped me because I have not been ill during all those years. I am a detox/retox man but believe that the organic part of my diet has helped to prevent me from acquiring many illnesses over the years.

 

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