Chef Na thought her food was organic coming from the local market. But vegetable man said he bought his food from local market, and that food comes from all over Thailand (he really didn’t know if it was organic). Also, local “organic” farm turned out not to be fully organic
BSfL - Sustainable Tourism
Food System and Tourism Sustainability at the Beluga School for LifeBy geoff Wright, natalie Hein, valerie rose, and daveloyst<br />
Introduction<br />As environmental awareness increases worldwide, environmentally sustainable tourism, or ecotourism, has been gaining popularity. Thailand specifically, with its recent growth in tourism, is at particular risk due to the potentially negative impacts of the industry. Thus Thailand’s King has begun promoting the idea of a Sufficiency Economy both as a way to promote self reliance and a sustainable society, both economically and environmentally. We surveyed the Beluga School for Life’s Hotel and Tourism institute to see how closely it aligns with the aforementioned ideal. <br />
Research Question: To what extent does the Beluga School for Life’s Tourism and Hotel Institute’s food system promote and implement environmentally sustainable practices? <br />Hypothesis: Although the BSfLis working toward minimizing waste, supplying their own food, and generally reducing their impact on the surrounding environment, we expect to find that they have fallen short of their own environmental goals. <br />
Indicators<br />The main indicators we’ll be using to asses the sustainability of BSfl’s Hotel and Tourism Institute are as follows:<br />Waste management<br />Recycling efforts<br />Sources of products (food specifically)<br />Self-sufficiency<br />We’d like to thank the BSfl for accommodating us and helping us throughout our research. Special thanks to Christopher Ott, AdjunCharniwad, Katja, Chef Na, and Nett.<br />
Methods<br />Participatory:<br />Interview with AdjunCharniwad, Director of BSfL’s Organic Farming<br />Interview with Katja, Director of Hotel and Tourism Institute<br />Interview with WannaPongpipattanakul (Chef Na), Executive Chef at BSfL<br />Interview BSfL’s grocery supplier (AKA Vegetable Man)<br />Participatory cooking with Chef Na<br />
Methods Cont.<br />Non-participatory:<br />Tour of BSfL’s Organic Garden and compost facilities <br />Surveyed products inside bungalows<br />Tour of Thai Mueang fresh market<br />Tour of local offsite “Organic” farm<br />
The BSfL’s garden uses no chemicals.<br />String beans, eggplant, lemongrass, sweet basil, hot basil, and chili are used in the kitchen.<br />Garden is still in experimental stages. <br />All organic fertilizer comes from kitchen waste.<br />More than 100kg of fish (tilapia, catfish, and mudfish) from the pond are used in the kitchen, but only on special occasions. <br />Mostly they buy fish from the market(non-freshwater fish). <br />No known wastewater treatment. Oil and pesticides from neighboring farms simply drains into the nearby canal. . <br />Interview with AdjunCharniwad, Director of BSfL’s Organic Farming<br />Interview with the Vegetable Man (BSfL’s food supplier)<br /><ul><li>Veggies purchased in the market come from all over Thailand, not just local farms.
Thai Mueang market is the closest market to BSfL, 28 Km away.
Most markets in Thailand get their produce from multiple provinces due to regional produce specializations.
Even locally grown produce often is shipped down to middle man distributors in Phuket before coming back up to Thai Mueang market.
At the market, organic and nonorganic produce is indistinguishable. The same can be said of meats.
Organic produce is more expensive as well, thus he usually doesn’t purchase organics. </li></li></ul><li>Tour of BSfL’s Organic Garden and compost facilities <br />Different sorts of organic material is then added depending on intended use (fertilizer for banana trees would contain banana waste)<br />Currently, only two herbs grown in the organic garden are used in the kitchen (lemongrass and basil)<br />Tour of Thai Mueang Fresh Market<br /><ul><li>Conditions resembled most other thai markets
No visible way to distinguish between organic and inorganic produce
Tried to find out exactly where specific plants had been shipped from, but lack of knowledge and language barrier made this task difficult.</li></ul>Tour of local offsite “Organic” farm<br /><ul><li>Saw unnatural pesticide used to “kill pests”
Different understandings of what constitutes organic
Inconsistencies with what is thought about the “organic” garden, and what is actually going on</li></li></ul><li>Interview with Executive Chef Na<br />Each meal contains some dishes with meat<br />No food waste thrown away, most going to the organic garden. Liquid waste is put in a well for separation (Note: she was vague about this process).<br />Kitchen doesn’t buy in bulk (food for each days menu is purchased same day)<br />No on site water supply or filtration system . Thus, water is purchased in bulk from Kapong city<br />Participatory Cooking with Chef Na<br /><ul><li>Interacted with cooking staff and helped to prepare dinner
Followed path of food/ingredients , from preparation to method of waste disposal
Cooked cleared soup consisting of thirteen different ingredients and observed the amount of food needed to make the soup</li></li></ul><li>Katja, Director of Hotel and Tourism Institute<br />Recycling from bungalow waste is done by individuals (for money) instead of being institutionalized. <br />Glass is not recycled, just plastic. <br />Attempted recycling program by having two waste baskets in each bungalow, but neither was labeled.<br />In low season they rely on individually packaged goods because they last longer. Hard to store local coffee and things that come in bulk. <br />The language barrier between management and the staff makes it difficult to train staff on environmentally sustainable practices. <br />Staff uses packaged juices instead of local, cheaper fresh fruits because they’re more convenient. <br />All waste that is not recycled is put on the side of the road and picked up by garbage trucks. The BSfL doesn’t know where the waste goes beyond this. Based on the study by Hiramatsu, et al. this likely means that the waste is either taken to a landfill or is incinerated. <br />Survey of Products Inside Bungalows<br />*Sustainability levels based on type of packaging and distance traveled to resort. Plastic packaging has a higher level of sustainability due to BSfL’s preference of sorting plastics for recycling. <br />
Analysis<br />Bungalows<br />Bungalows are inefficiently stocked with packaged products from all over Thailand<br />Plastic packaging results in a lot of waste<br />Although attempts have been made at recycling, these efforts have been lacking<br />Unlike many hotels visited, electricity in the bungalows stays on regardless of occupancy<br />This is neither ecologically nor economically sustainable<br /><ul><li>Food Systems
Most of the food used in the kitchen in not organic
Chef Na is under the impression that the food is organic, however based on our interview with Vegetable Man and our own findings at the “organic” farm, this is not the case
The process of using food waste as organic fertilizer is highly ecologically and economically sustainable
Produce is shipped longer than necessary distances due to uncontrollable middle man distributions</li></li></ul><li>Limitations<br />We received contradictory information from different personnel within the system we were studying, indicating a lack of communication or understanding.<br />An inability to find out the destination of waste after it’s picked up. We had to infer that it either ends up in a landfill or is incinerated.<br />
Implications<br />Certain practices within the system are largely sustainable, and we anticipate this to increase.<br />Communication and oversight is key to producing a sustainable system.<br />There are initiatives underway, but a lack of leadership has hindered implementation.<br />Because BSfl is so new and their main priority is the education of the students and economic self-sufficiency , sustainability is not a primary concern.<br />
Solutions<br />Bungalows<br />Label the recycling bins<br />Replace Nescafe packets with locally grown coffee<br />Food Services<br />Have a clear definition of what organic is<br />Expand the organic garden<br />Appoint an overseer to coordinate and advocate sustainability efforts and goals within BSfL<br />