One of the joys of living in rural Isaan is experiencing the wonderful freshness of the locally grown food. Much of Thai food on offer is very basic and often quite different in style from the menus in your local western Thai restaurant. What makes the difference here is that you are more likely to find that the ingredients in your roadside food stall offerings were either in the ground that morning or walking around not that long ago!
My sister and brother-in-law dropped in last evening to deliver some fresh vegetables picked that morning on the family farm so today I thought I would follow the vegetable trail from farm to market and share the photos with you. Now following the vegetable “trail” for a supermarket like Woolworths or Coles in Australia (pick the equivalent in your country) might take you hundreds of kilometers from farm, processing plant or more likely some cold storage facility. The trip is a little easier here:
The farm top centre and the market bottom left. You can also see from this photo that we live in a little moo ban (village) on the outskirts of Si Bun Ruang central. Perfect.
This shot gives you an idea of the size of the farm. The solid green is sugar cane although this year the land under the title “Gaun’s family farm” has also been planted to sugar. The rest is mostly planted up for mixed vegetables.
The farm at ground level. This is Yuan and Lud’s section.
We arrived at the farm around 9.00 am to find Yuan and Lud finishing preparing a big order of vegetables for the local market. They had been up since 2.00 am so it isn’t the sort of life for the lazy. This time of year is a big money maker for them as the population of Isaan must at least double as everyone heads home to celebrate the New Year. The order today was worth 4,000 THB or A$160.00 and they did the same yesterday.
We are in what passes as a cool season here so you will see vegetables like broccoli, cauliflowers and celery in the markets. Having said that we are having unseasonably hot weather so the size of the crop is down on normal. This coming on top of a drought year is a reminder of what a hard existence farming is not just for Thai farmers but worldwide.
Yuan, Gaun’s younger sister, with a freshly picked cauliflower.
Very small this year.
All hand planted and watered by two people. Yuan harvesting.
Can’t get fresher than that.
Lettuce seeds being sown on 2 November.
Off to market today.
Plenty more in reserve planted to be ready for New Year when the prices increase due to demand.
A basket of unripe tomatoes used in papaya salad.
Cauliflower, broccoli, papaya, tomatoes and celery – all picked that morning.
Five kilos of cauliflower selling at 50 THB (A$2.00) a kilo.
Much thinner than normal. 70 THB a bunch.
Spring onions – not included in today’s orders.
Washing by hand.
Gaun picking some lettuce to go with home made spring rolls that I have just finished before writing this blog.
Thank you Gaun.
This guy keeps an eye on things when the family aren’t there.
As you can see from the map once the pickup was loaded the trip to the delivery point at the local Si Bun Ruang market wasn’t too strenuous. We followed behind because I wanted to see the produce actually being distributed.
Hard at work! The family think that I am remarkably delicate and refuse to give me anything resembling heavy lifting. Maybe farang aren’t covered in their workers comprehensive insurance!
The family operate as both wholesalers, delivering in bulk to other stall holders in the market, as well as having their own stall where they sell directly to the locals. They make more money from the latter obviously but at a cost of spending the day in the market, which when you’ve been up since 2.00 am makes for a loooong day.
The local markets. What a wonderful place. Compare this to your average western supermarket experience. A bit warm in summer though I’ll give you that!
This is the family stall. The area from the front of the photo to where Gaun is standing costs 1,500 THB (A$60.00) a month to rent.
Tony in action. I was allowed something heavier this time but not on my own. Lud helping the poor farang.
One of the stallholders arranging newly arrived farm produce.
I always find it hard to visit the markets and not take a few general photos because of the vivid colours and range of goods on display.
A selection of chilli paste at the back. Thais will mix them to suit their own taste. For me they would be hot or hot.
10 and 20 THB a plate.
You buy eggs sorted by size. The prices shown here are for 30 eggs – A$4.40 for 30 of the largest.
Photo taken for the range of colours.
A flower stall. These are all made for temple donations not for home display.
Buyers at the family stall. That is Paed on the right, Gaun’s sister number 4 (Gaun is six). She and her husband Tham run the other half of the family farm.
Yuan and Paed selling. This lady is getting one free cauliflower because she has bought three!
Buying minced pork for my lunchtime spring rolls. 70 THB for half a kilo. This guy’s wife was fast asleep in a chair at the front of the stall. Thais can sleep in any situation.
I bought the family iced coffee and teas. Green tea being prepared here. If you haven’t tried it make sure you give it a go. Five drinks for 100 THB or A$4.00.
The iced coffee is made with three spoonfuls of instant coffee, some brewed coffee that is almost treacle in consistency, powdered milk, sugar, evaporated and condensed milk poured over crushed ice. Although the ingredients sound a bit iffy the result is surprisingly good and will keep you awake until early next year.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip to the farm and the markets as much as I did.
Thanks for reading.