Mrs. Karaket Soraphipat is the Manager of the Alternative Health Food Restaurant in Trang. She is 50 years old and graduated in Nursing Science from Mahidol University.
“We started this restaurant because we were worried about chemical residues in vegetables and fruits. My husband is a doctor and he says a lot of people get sick because the food is not safe, especially as a result of pesticides and preservatives. We started to do some experiments by growing organic food for our own consumption. We then talked about the situation with our close friends and decided to open a health food restaurant, because we wanted to do something that would help solve the problem for other people.”
“The vegetables that we use in the restaurant come from different sources. Some of them we grow ourselves, like Chinese cabbage and lettuce, so we can be sure they are safe. We also use wild vegetables that local people like to eat; these we can buy from villagers in rural areas. And for other vegetables like tomato we buy them from the supermarket in the health food section, usually with a label like Doi Kham.”
“The officers from the Department of Medical Sciences (Ministry of Public Health) often come to take samples of our vegetables and test them for chemical contamination. They just show up without making an appointment. As a result, we have got a certificate to prove that our food is safe.”
Mr. Santisuk Wisuthisen is the General Manager of the Ladprao Branch of the D’Jitr Pochana Restaurant in Bangkok.
“We normally buy vegetables and fruits from Sri Moom Muang wholesale market or the Sapanmai market. We know there is a problem with chemical contamination because we used a test kit produced by the Ministry of Public Health. The findings showed that all kind of vegetables are highly contaminated, including vegetables like Chinese celery and Chinese Kale that we use a lot in our food.”
“After doing the tests, we started using ozonated water to clean the vegetables. We hope the washing will eliminate the pesticide residues. We don’t buy so-called ‘safe’ vegetables from the market because how can you trust the label? We ordered some vegetables from a hydroponic farmer for the salad bar, but even he says that he still uses pesticides when insects attack his crop. And organic vegetables are very high in price compared to those vegetables in the general market. We need to think about the cost of our raw materials and also the price of the finished product.”
“To solve this problem the government should educate farmers about the dangers of pesticides: about the health impact on themselves and the consumer. Farmers should also be provided with education about alternative ways of managing their crops, so that they don’t use chemical pesticides.”