It was recently ‘jeh’ week in Thailand. Jeh food – ahaan jeh – means ‘vegetarian food’ and jeh week was due to some kind of Chinese event. The reason I know this is because all the vegetable-based foods I usually eat were moved to a special display at the other end of the supermarket, up-priced and rebranded with a giant red and yellow Chinese-style sticker saying “JEH”.
As such, this blog is a partial prop to the Land Of Smiles for having so much good veggo food so readily available and a partial complaint about how that food is packaged. For example: a popular veg dish is pak bung fai daeng: fried chili morning glory, (morning glory the vegetable, not the Judd Apatow movie reference). This is packaged as a single serve on a piece of foam, plastic-sealed and multi-stickered. At the check-out counter, it receives further plastic-bagging unless you submit yourself to bemused looks – as you should – by providing your own reusable bag.
So, bravo, Thailand, on the tastiness, convenience and price of your food, but boo to the amount of plastic involved. In the unknowable realm of grocery physics, it seems portion size is inversely proportional to the amount of packaging required by said portion.
My suggestion to travelers who come from places – as I do – where using a plastic bag inspires angry mobs and public lynching, is the following:
- Sit down to eat at street vendor stalls with tables rather than get takeaway in Styrofoam containers.
- If you don’t want the five different bags of sauce that come with everything, refuse them.
- Refuse the straws and spoons you get with each yoghurt or bottled beverage.
- If you do take away, consolidate all your foam things into a single bag.
- Give used takeaway plastics and foams to the next food vendor you see because they can and do reuse them if they’re undamaged.