Environmental engineer Charina Nguansamang is instead taking care of people’s gastric ecology these days with her health-food catering business Krua Saijai. She delivers delectable organic dishes to homes and offices from her farm off Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road.
It’s a compelling shift in a decade-old career that’s seen Charina design wastewater-treatment systems for factories around the country. She’s also active with the Thai Environmental and Community Development Association, which spreads the word about global warming.
Two years ago her husband discovered that he had a pancreatic neuro-endocrine tumour – the same affliction that struck Steve Jobs – and the doctor told him there was no known cure, that not even chemotheraphy would help.
Charina delved into the cancer research in a hunt for answers. The couple made significant lifestyle adjustments, getting exercise every day, meditating and eating organic food to boost immunity. Charina came up with a string of recipes using only organically grown vegetables, fresh fish and natural salt, soy sauce and sugar.
“A cancer patient shouldn’t eat meat and should avoid beans and mushrooms early on, because proteins are a great food for cancer,” she says. “Organic vegetables and fresh fish are the best choices to build up immunity, but organic ingredients are rare in our markets, so I had to team up with a green market to get access to a network of organic farmers.”
Every day Charina fills her husband’s lunch carrier with her special meals so he can eat properly at work. The effort seems to be helping. “I’m getting our daughter to eat more vegetables and fruit too,” she says.
Realising that everyone could benefit from what they’d discovered, Charina launched her organic-food catering service Krua Saijai, which also organises eco-friendly activities for families. She set up a Facebook page to advertise it and soon had thousands of fans.
“I always share what I learn with my colleagues and relatives, and all my raw materials, to get them to pay more attention to the quality of their lives.”
Krua Saijai offers a hundred scrumptious dishes for lunch or dinner, two menus alternating daily. You can have a Bt130 set of two vegetarian dishes or get one fish dish and a vegetarian dish for Bt150. Some days there are special snacks and Thai-style sweets as well.
Available this month are a spicy mackerel salad, stir-fried bean curd in green curry, a Chinese multi-vegetable soup, sour seabass soup, stir-fried dok mai jeen sod (moonflower), featherback curry with cha plu leaves, spicy mushroom mussaman curry, stir-fried gourd in red sauce and eggplant soup with boiled eggs.
“At the moment I’m delivering 50 to 60 food carriers a day, mostly to office workers downtown,” Charina says. “I make sure the meals taste good and the ingredients are of the best quality. At the same time I try to make creative dishes using little-known local plants like cowslip creeper, hemp sesbania, horseradish tree, Melientha suavis, lotus stem and tamarind leaves.
“The seabass, mackerel and freshwater snakehead fish I use come directly from local fish farms.”
“I was buying vegetables from Krua Saijai for my father,” says Vallabhin Vuphiganond, 35, an office worker in Sutthisarn district, “but then I decided I should be eating better to improve my own
health. I get a food carrier for lunch once a week and I’ve noticed the difference it makes.
“I especially love the stir-fried spicy mushrooms with holy basil and shrimp-paste sauce that come with steamed mackerel and vegetables.”
Charina has her kitchen on Soi Vibhavadi Rangsit 22, on a one-rai property with ample room for a learning centre, a dining area that can seat 30 and her chicken coop, mushroom cellar and vegetable garden. You can roam around and see basil, neem, sesban chaom, chillies, water morning glory, mirliton and Ceylon spinach growing.
“People can come and study organic agriculture,” she says. “And my activities are popular with families. A lot of parents want their children to learn to live with nature, something they can’t always do when they’re stuck in a compact condominium.”
This year Charina will be putting parents and kids through “a farmer role-playing game”. The youngsters will be shown how to make toys, soap, shampoo and snacks using only “leftovers” from the garden. There’ll be a treasure hunt, too, where they track down fruit and vegetables utilising their five senses.
“We love the family activities here,” says Pornpun Pacharoen, 46, who works in an office on Wireless Road. “My child had fun learning about nature and how to plant garden vegetables.
“I’ve used the catering service too. I don’t actually like vegetables but I’m trying to improve my diet. For the past two months I’ve been eating organic food and my digestive system is better because the food is so light on the stomach and easy to digest.”
<< Krua Saijai on Soi Vabhavadi-Rangsit | 22 is open Monday to Friday from | 11am to 2pm.
<< Arrange a visit or meal deliveries at| (087) 915 3440 or the | “saijaihealthyfood” page on Facebook.