Building an ethnic food network

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Delegates from 16 countries are currently attending an intensive workshop on “Everything you need to know about Thai ethnic food” in Thailand’s Khon Kaen province, 450km northeast of Bangkok. 

Khon Kaen University, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is hosting the two week activity. The objective is to create an international network of awareness of ethnic food to cope with global food shortages in the future.

Academics and students from Khon Kaen University are accompanying a delegation from 16 countries on a cruise through the Nam Ton rapids to learn firsthand about the people’s way of life in Ban Nong Hee.

The village is small but residents can almost fully rely on the gifts of nature for their daily survival.

Along the rapid, the visitors see villagers catching fish by every possible means—looking for a fish and catching it, or throwing a net to bring out fresh, edible creatures from the river. They also tasted different kinds of vegetables and fruit along the river.

The delegates help each other prepare lunch from the fresh food supply they catch from the river. They describe the experience as an eye opener.

Fresh fish are definitely on the menu with many other northeastern dishes.  After an enjoyable meal, it’s time to move on.

They visit a pilot farming project where several kinds of trees are grown in a one-square-kilometre plot of land and alternate to bear fruit all year round. The group proceeds to pick mushrooms in a eucalyptus forest. Some are so charmed that they do not want to leave the wood.

This is just one day’s activity in their more than two week programme, during which an international ethnic food festival is held for them. They go on field trips as well as attend seminars.

The organisers want them to have a clear picture of the ethnic food situation in Thailand and the necessity of ethnic food in alleviating food shortages in the future.