When I lived in New York, I took for granted that exotic fruit was available all year round, without a second thought to the thousands of miles it may have journeyed before making its way into my breakfast. But here in Yangon, many of us already have an unconscious appreciation for the “food miles” logged by our produce. A phrase referring to a measure of the environmental impact of our food choices, food miles are the distance that food
has to travel from farm to plate.
As a general rule of thumb, choosing seasonal, locally produced food is a simple way to minimize food miles and its associated carbon footprint. Cities have seen a rise in urban farming as a response to these environmental costs, and Yangon has picked up on this trend. One especially promising newcomer is Kokkoya Organics, an urban farm based in North Dagon that is growing safe, organic produce. When founder and head farmer Caity was scouting locations for the farm, she knew she wanted it close enough to the city center to allow customers to visit the farm, to inspire trust in the food it was producing and to form a community with the farmers. Secondly, she wanted to show that a small area can still produce a lot of food. “There is so much land in Yangon that could grow food!” Caity explains. “Everyone should have access to fresh, safe food and the population is in the cities so this should be where it starts to come from.”
An antidote to industrialized agriculture’s excesses including chemical fertilizers, unsafe processing and long transport, Kokkoya Organics grows only organic vegetables and sells to the local community through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) system, delivering weekly bags of freshly harvested crop to 50 households across Yangon. As consumers, said Caity, “we should be asking ourselves questions such as where does my food come from? How did it reach me? Who grew it? What impact did it have on the environment? We need to go beyond the label and ask more and more questions.”
To learn more about how to select and prepare produce safely in Yangon, drop by Nourish Café on April 27, where nutritionist Brea Baildon will be discussing the whys and hows of eating a plant-based diet. We will dispel common myths surrounding organic produce, GMOs, and nutrient deficiencies often associated with vegetarianism. Even if you’re not ready become a full-fledged rabbit food eater, you can do your part in decreasing your carbon footprint by becoming more informed about your daily food choices, because food miles is one type of frequent flyer you don’t want to rack up points on.
Jojo Yang is the co-founder of MYANMORE Green Award winner Nourish Café and Yangon Yoga House, where she is also the main yoga instructor.
Address: 36/38 Alan Pya Pagoda Road (Down a small spooky alley, opposite Park Royal Hotel) , Dagon Township
Phone: 09 973 802714
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs (10am-9pm), Fri-Sat (10am-3pm), Sun (10am-7pm)