Vietnam SuperOrganic Life by Sarika
When I was living in Vietnam the first time around 17 years ago, I was never really concerned about my food being ‘Organic’ or not. Food was food. So I thought! That is, until one day, one of our vegetarian friends told us his story over dinner how he had collapsed recently, apparently due to the accumulative effects of eating pesticide-soaked vegetables in large quantities over time. That’s what the doctor told him.
I still recall having a dilemma – whether it was still better to continue eating vegetables for health, or whether I should just skip it all together. Back in those days, pesticide-free produce was not easily available, and I was left with little choice, other than reluctantly buying what was probably pesticide-soaked in the markets.
Fast-forward two decades. Now that I’m back the second time around, the world seems to have changed. Vietnam is embracing all things Organic and the demand is high. By Organic, I mean, not just as in produce, but the whole sustainable and ethical lifestyle that goes with it. I spoke to some friends who are at the forefront of this movement.
The first is Minoru Shiokawa, who started NicoNicoYasai ( http://www.niconicoyasai.com) , a successful Japanese-Vietnamese organic farm in 2011. They deliver a weekly mixed set of fresh harvest, which is why I look forward to Mondays! While you can’t request what goes inside, it’s been quite entertaining to get acquainted with a wide array of unfamiliar local vegetables, and come up with new dishes which requires some creativity.
I asked him some questions out of curiosity. What are some of the challenges you face in terms of organic farming here? (Minoru:) One of the key challenge is the cost and access to organic fertilizers. In Japan, things like cow dung are virtually free, but here, it’s actually expensive. As the farms are physically scattered across, we need to logistically make a more concerted effort in collecting these organic fertilizers, which is obviously a critical component in organic farming.
What about the actual ‘Organic’ certification process? (Minoru:) In Vietnam, currently, there is no established national organic certification process just yet. Organic certifications are undertaken by overseas players at present, which is expensive and complex. Those who can afford it are limited to big companies. In short, it is too costly for individual farmers to be certified organic.
How is the demand for Organic products? (Minoru:) There is increased awareness about food safety among the Vietnamese people, and the demand is solidly increasing. They generally have big families, and buy their favorite vegetables in large quantities, compared to our Japanese customers who tend to prefer to buy smaller quantities from a wider variety of vegetables. Many customers buy our products because they also support the whole concept behind organic farming, including environmentally sound development. Many come on their bicycles with their own recycled bags, which is great.
TetLifestyleCollection( tet-lifestyle-collection.com) ,aVietnamese-Australianpartnership,isanother important player. This lifestyle company runs a thoughtful restaurant, ‘Maison de Tet Decor’, among other exciting ventures. I asked Pete Wilkes of Tet Lifestyle Collection some questions.
Nico Nico Yasai （詳細は上記に）www.niconicoyasai.com
To 13 Khoi 2 Ea Tam, Buon Me Thuot, Tinh Dak Lak, Vietnam
+81 966728183 (日本語) +84 1644126236 (ベトナム語)
Naturally Vietnam 無農薬、GAP野菜（土曜日にファーマーズ・マーケッットもあり）
No 4, Lane 67/12 To Ngoc Van Str., Tay Ho Dist., Hanoi,
Hello Mam 無農薬 、GAP基準に満たした野菜の配達
54 Xuân Diệu, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội. 04 37186192 – 0935410183. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maison de Tet Decor （詳細は上記に）http://tet-lifestyle-collection.com
Villa 156 (36) Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, West Lake, Hanoi
Writer: Hassey Sarika www.SarikaGroup.org