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Restoring our Harmony with Nature through Food Stories and Experiences

Restoring our harmony with nature through food stories and experiences

Photo of Rosalind Yunibandhu
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Arcadia Fine Foods Company Limited | Arcadia: Ancient Greek mythological land where life's perfect: simple, peaceful, in harmony with nature

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

We work on a project-basis with the Village Headman and team of Pangkhon Village, Chiang Rai, Thailand. We are also cultivating more partnerships with local communities with food stories to tell, and food experiences to share, on an ongoing basis.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.facebook.com/arcadiafinefoods www.instagram.com/arcadiafinefoods www.arcadia-fine-foods.com (under construction)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Bangkok

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Thailand

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Bangkok (1,569 km2) & Chiang Rai (60.85 km2) provinces I'm Thai, live in Bangkok, and work with Akha and Tai Yai hill tribes in Chiang Rai

What country is your selected Place located in?

Thailand

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Whilst I am Thai, I only visited Chiang Rai for the first time in 2017. I was, at first, simply struck by its vast, natural beauty. The undeveloped landscapes - expansive rice fields, green rolling hills, densely forested peaks shrouded in low-hanging mist - and sense of calm made me feel immediately at home in this less touristic region of Thailand. However, it was my meeting a remarkably knowledgeable, perfect-English speaking Lahu tribesman left such an impression that I knew I would be back to explore further. We had engaged him to take us on a regular tour to see a waterfall. However, what actually transpired was a private plant medicine and culinary tour of the forests of the Highlands! Along the way to the waterfall, he foraged and shared with us his ancestral knowledge of medicinal and culinary plants; along the way back, we stopped to cook some unique Lahu traditional dishes together. We left with our energy and spirits high. Fast forward to mid-2018, as fate would have it, I was invited back to Chiang Rai to work on an unrelated project. Through this project, however, I got to know some lovely, Tai Yai and Akha tribespeople, and learned much about their culture, personal histories and, again, plant medical and culinary traditions. Aside from this, their subsistence lifestyles demonstrated how much we have to learn from people for whom the forest is their kitchen and pharmacy - not only about food and medicine - but importantly, sustainability. Having had a career of over 11 years at PwC as a management consultant - much of it leading the sustainability practice in Thailand - spending time with tribes gave me a new perspective on what it means to be sustainable. Today, we work with the Akha tribe village to create intimate food culture experiences for private individuals and corporate leaders/embassy groups, with a view to sharing this perspective. We also promote unique, local produce to well-known chefs in Bangkok.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

- The feel of the Place (Focus on Chiang Rai; to add Bangkok later) > Vast tracts of land, rolling hills, mist shrouded forested peaks. High ethnic and cultural diversity, next to Burma and Laos and near China. Ancient history, centuries older than Bangkok - The food People eat (tastes, flavors, and smells) Tribal food is largely plant and subsistence and forest-based. Chiang Rai city food is spicy and pork-intensive. - The climate and topography (Source: Wikipedia; to be further updated before January submission date) The average elevation of the province is 580 metres (1,900 ft) but reaches 1600m in places. The north of the province is part of the so-called Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma converge. - The social dynamics, cultural traditions, language, and ethnic diversity (Source: Wikipedia; to be further updated before January submission date) Khon Muang are the city folk who originally came from Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, and Phrae. Culturally, they design their houses having only one floor with wooden gable decorations called "ka-lae". They are known for their craftsmanship in wood carving, weaving, lacquer ware, and musical instruments. Tai Yai (Shan) are a Tai ethnic group who primarily live in what is now Shan State in Burma, and also in Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand. They grow rice, farm, raise cattle, and trade. Their craftsmanship lies in weaving, pottery, wood carving, and bronze ware. Akha have the largest population of any hill tribe in the region. Originating from Tibet and southern China, they dwell on high ground around 1,200 meters above sea level. Within their villages they build spirit gateways to protect them from evil spirits. Lahu (Musor) are also from the Yunnanese area and live in high areas. They are known as hunters and planters. Karen live in various areas of the region which have valleys and riverbanks. Chin Haw in Chiang Rai consist primarily of the former Kuomintang (KMT army) who took refuge in the area, mainly in Santikhiri (formerly Mae Salong). Hmong from southern China, inhabit high ground. They raise livestock and grow rice, corn, tobacco, and cabbage. They are also known for their embroidery and silver. Tai Lue (Dai) live in dwellings of usually only a single room wooden house built on high poles. They are skilled in weaving. Lisu from southern China and Tibet are renowned for their colorful dress and also build their dwellings on high stilts. They harvest rice and corn and their men are skilled in hunting. Yao (Mien) reside along mountain sides and grow corn and other crops. They are skilled blacksmiths, silversmiths, and embroiders. - The unique cultural trends Overarching Lanna (regional mainstream) culture, but incredible diversity amongst tribes - The urban/rural breakdown - The role of agriculture, farming and aquaculture, and dominant crops - What are the hopes of the People here? - The effect of diets on the health of the population

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

9770000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Environment: Current issues around slash and burn agriculture, growing of commercial corn (possibly also GMO) destroying landscapes Diets: Hill tribe foodways are overall extremely healthy with strong plant-base and prevalent use of herbs in food and medicine; however, not really known to city folk, who would benefit from knowledge thereof Economics: low commodity produce prices Culture: Hill tribes in general have a non-wasteful, subsistence, sustainable lifestyle. City folk would do well to take inspiration for their daily lives in the city. Technology: Generally good 4G coverage, even in the mountains. Can be leveraged further re agritech and sales and marketing of local produce to rest of country. Policy: Government funding is available but insufficient and accompanied by little practical guidance for disbursement. Enlightened private sector can fill this gap.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Environment: supporting sustainable, organic agriculture through offering fair trade prices on quality highland produce, and promoting amongst well-known chefs in Bangkok Diets: introducing hill tribe inspired diets to city folk through food experiences (e.g. food foraging retreats and day trips), thereby also increasing pride of local foodways Economics: supporting sustainable, organic agriculture through offering fair trade prices on quality highland produce, and promoting amongst well-known chefs in Bangkok Culture: introducing hill tribe inspired diets to city folk through food experiences (e.g. food foraging retreats and day trips), thereby also increasing pride of local foodways - and also creating a a social, cultural, empathetic exchange between city and rural folk Technology: leveraging relevant apps in conducting business (sales and marketing, weather apps to help predict harvest times etc.) Policy: indirectly campaigning for more financial and practical government support to highland cultures and livelihoods through promotion thereof

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Chiang Rai (hill tribes) Improved livelihoods due to fair trade prices on produce Local and national pride in culture and traditional foodways Reduced environmental damage due to emphasis on sustainable / organic agriculture Bridged cultural, social and empathetic gaps between rural and city folk Knowledge from city folk Tech savvy tribes (only to extent is useful and healthy) Policy that recognises the great value of nature and the people who live in harmony with it Personal spiritual fulfilment from human connection through food Bangkok people National pride in local cultures and traditional foodways Increase in food and ingredient choices in Bangkok, including organic Improved health from new food options and sustainable lifestyle awareness Reduced environmental damage due to emphasis on sustainable / organic agriculture Bridged cultural, social and empathetic gaps between rural and city folk Knowledge from rural folk Policy that recognises the great value of nature and the people who live in harmony with it Personal spiritual fulfilment from human connection through food

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for the people of Chiang Rai and Bangkok: Fundamentally, personal and spiritual fulfilment from the human connection conveyed through food. For the hill tribes of Chiang Rai, improved livelihoods, pride in local culture and traditional foodways, reduced local environmental damage, better understanding and appreciation of themselves in the context of Thailand/Bangkok, uptodate knowledge of technology and business from exchanges with city folk. For Bangkok people, national pride in local and rural cultures, increase in interesting organic food and ingredient choices, improved health from new food options and sustainable lifestyle awareness, empathy for rural peoples. For all, Policy that recognises the great value of nature and the people who live in harmony with it This Vision would be delivered and amplified through Arcadia's existing business model, but with the focus being on Bangkok - Chiang Rai. Products: curation of unique highland ingredients, creating high value around them - and sharing value back to highland producers Experiences: curation of unique food experiences in Bangkok and Chiang Rai featuring highland ingredients, foods and culinary traditions, e.g. food foraging, coffee production, tea production, herbal studies, cooking classes, etc. Education: curation of structured offline and online education courses promoting content relating to highland living and produce. Media: curation of stories (written and film) about highland living and produce (I currently already write a magazine column for a well-known Bangkok lifestyle magazine called Kitchen Backstories www.facebook.com/kitchenbackstories) Consulting: supporting local villages on marketing and sales of unique natural highland produce, or supporting chefs in Bangkok on sourcing unique natural highland products or ingredients

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook

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Team

Hi Rosalind Yunibandhu 

Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community! Thank you for sharing your Vision about a sustainable food system and the inspiration from the sustainable lifestyle in Chiang Rai.

I see that you choose two places for your Vision: Bangkok and Chiang Rai. I think it would be better if you can choose one place for your selected place. Focusing on one place will help your team develop a Vision that’s unique to the Place and the People who live there.

Since the Prize asks you to imagine the food system in 2050, we encourage you to think more about vision than solution. How might you evolve your Vision to make it more inclusive and systemic for your local food system and its numerous stakeholders? Could you also explain how your Vision will address the six interconnected themes: Economics, Diet, Technology, Policy, Culture and Environment in an integrated way in your place?

Your Vision will be designed specifically for the Place and People you’ve selected, we encourage you to learn more about the needs, aspirations, motivations, and challenges of the place and its people and bring the top insights together to your Vision.

You can find some guiding principles and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 2 under Tools of Transformation: http://bit.ly/2X4ZxQk

There will be a webinar about Futurecasting, featuring Rebeca Chesney of IDEO Food Studio and Max Elder of Institute for the Future on Thursday Jan 16, 2020 at Noon EST. I think it could be helpful for you. You can register for the webinar here: https://ideo.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Jrf3bhpKSsGEc1pnXfy23A. If you aren’t able to attend live, we will be sharing back a recording of the session with this community.

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.

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