Organic labels and systems are in the early stages in Thailand — and face challenges related to regulation and enforcement. In light of this, we work with our suppliers to ensure agents from our ‘do not use’ list is followed. The ‘do not use’ list is modeled after the USDA Organic program.
REFORM KAFE DOES NOT USE ORANGES — THIS IS WHY
Reform Kafé, our in-house restaurant, is committed to sourcing healthy, high quality ingredients for the dishes we serve you. Yet, like all who try to source pesticide-safe produce in Thailand, we face challenges.
In Japan and the European Union, excessive chemical residues are only found in 4% of samples. In Thailand, this number is an alarming 56%.
Further reason to be alarmed, include the following:
- Thailand does not have a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) law and there are no reports on toxic substances discharged from individual factories. With wind and stormwater runoff, many of these substances end up in agriculture.
- The Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN), a non-governmental organization, conducted a survey on nine vegetables and six types of fruit in Thailand, and found 64% of 13 were not safe to eat as they contained harmful chemicals exceeding the maximum residue limit (MRL).
- Notably, 57.1% of fruits and vegetables granted the “Q mark” by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, were contaminated at unsafe levels.
- 25% of the products certified organic, and claimed to be free of chemicals, had chemical residues exceeding the accepted standards.
So, why does Reform Kafé not use oranges?
Thai PAN reports all oranges in Thailand exceed maximum residue limits and contain over 35 chemicals.
In Thailand, when attempting to source pesticide safe produce, we are faced the above challenges face us. The challenges are the result of loose regulation and relatively no enforcement compared to Western countries.
Regardless of these challenges, Reform Kafé is committed to serving you high quality, healthy ingredients. For the next 180 days we are building our Responsibility Program, and it includes the goals that follow:
- Whenever possible, we require that our suppliers provide an organic certification for the products we purchase.
- Whenever possible, we source ingredients that are certified USDA Organic.
- We avoid using produce that tests above MRL, or is known as a major violator of MRL.
- We craft recipes around seasonal produce whenever possible.
- We establish relationships with local suppliers, and visit their operations as a means to verify organic claims.
- We require that our supplies sign our policy, and commit to produce that does not test above MRL.
- As an extra step of precaution against possible pesticide use, we soak and hand wash our produce in a baking soda bath, followed by a thorough rinse. (Research indicates that baking soda can remove as much as 96% of pesticides from our fruits and vegetables.)
While the above strategy is not perfect, it ensures we are doing everything possible to serve you products that are as healthy as the local market can provide. Meanwhile, we continuously improve our sourcing and advocate safe farming practices — the process is constantly evolving.
With increased consumer awareness, we want to help change Thai policy, or lack there of, when it comes to the use of harmful pesticides.
According to Disease Control Department (DCD), 8,689 people became sick from pesticide toxins last year. Many of them were farmers, who constantly use pesticides in their fields.
Interested in supporting those who advocate clean produce and the elimination of harmful pesticides from the Thailand food-chain? Find additional information here:
Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN)
Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty Action Thailand (BioThai)
About Reform Kafé
Reform Kafé is a plant-based restaurant located at the Green Tiger House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Launched in 2017 — on a mission to transform its community by serving healthy and delicious food — bringing awareness to supply chains, pesticide use, animal welfare, waste, good health, and social justice. Reform Kafé, has engaged GCOMM360 to help build its Responsibility Program.
Founded by Philip Beere; a full service communications agency dedicated to telling stories of innovation, sustainability, and market transformation. Services include crafting narratives, custom content, writing case studies, green rating/certification consulting, and digital (web site development and social marketing).