royal project: shopping for fresh produce in thailand

Thailand’s Royal Project Stores: A Mecca for Fresh Produce in Bangkok

People often ask me what I miss the most whenever I visit Thailand. My answer to that question never varies: it’s always the fresh ingredients that make our food soul-feeding.

Everything is so fresh in Bangkok—the fruits, the vegetables, the seafood, everything. The freshness of the food you get in this city is exactly what your soul craves for. You can buy fresh food nearly everywhere you go in Bangkok, but one of my favorite places to go shopping for fresh produce is the Royal Project stores.

What is the Royal Project?

The Royal Project is a non-profit organization established to improve the quality of living among the hill tribes in North Thailand. It specifically targets the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, and Phayao.

As its name suggests, the Royal Project was founded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1969. Its initial goal was to replace opium farming with sustainable agriculture projects as a source of income for the hill tribes. Through partnerships with various universities in the country, the Royal Project developed advanced agricultural practices that guaranteed the freshness of its products while protecting hill tribe culture and the environment.

The technology has also enabled the organization to watch international food trends so they can be developed locally. One example I personally encountered is feta cheese. With Mediterranean-style diets becoming the rage globally, the Royal Project was able to produce feta cheese using local buffalos to keep up with this trend.

Shopping at Royal Project stores

One thing I really love about Royal Project is that it has stores everywhere—all over Bangkok and even at the airports. I went shopping once with my friend Karb from Karbstyle at one such store and found a lot of fresh, mostly organic produce. There’s even packaged, ready-to-eat vegetables available.

The visit reminded me that fresh baby corn beats the canned baby corn we get in the US any time of the day. Fresh baby corn is much sweeter and flavorful, and they make soups and stir-fries so awesome. And if I could bring that smoked trout home with me to the States, I would.

Fresh produce isn’t the only thing you can buy at the Royal Project stores. You can also buy handicrafts, cut flowers, organic herbal beauty products, and many other things. The jacket I’m wearing in the video and the bag Karb is sporting were all bought from the store the day we filmed it. And, of course, the jewelry—they’re my favorites and I just have to have them.

The best thing about the Royal Project stores is that, awesome as their products are, most of the profits go back to the farmers. So, by shopping at these stores, you don’t just fresh food and lovely handicrafts. You get to give back by helping uplift people’s lives.

Watch my episode on the Royal Project here.

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