This is how Hilltribe Organics is both helping hundreds of families and providing diners with a healthier organic option for eggs in Thailand.
by Zachary Gomes
It is still early morning as the sun peeks over the Mae Suay mountains of Chiang Rai. Rays alight on a long building of thatched grass and bamboo, slanting golden through the walls of rice straw. Inside, Aso Cheugong and his wife are serving breakfast—a feast of organic grains for their flock of free-range chickens.
The Cheugongs and their feathered wards are several kilometers from the nearest village so, at this early hour, the only sounds to be heard come from the chickens enjoying breakfast and the call of wild birds from across the mountain valley.
Later, as they do every day, the flock will spend the day running about freely in their secluded mountainside pasture. Thus their daily diet also includes what they find tasty, be it worms, seeds, guava, longan, pineapple, or whatever else they choose.
Aso is one of the first farmers to work for Hilltribe Organics, an organization that offers underprivileged hill tribe families free laying hens and free organic feed to produce eggs as an extra source of income. Since joining, Aso, father of three young children, has been able to more than double his income, offering him security and the ability to guarantee his children an education beyond Mattayom 3 in Chiang Rai.
In return, Aso and his family’s well-cared for hens deliver some of Thailand’s most purely organic eggs, packed with vitamins and rich in flavor. Indeed, each of Hilltribe Organics’ eggs comes from a family free-ranging their chickens on pastures ranging from grassy fields to fruit orchards, to vegetable patches, river runs, and wild forest. The chickens eat unique diets and the results are fresh eggs with exceptional taste.
“Not only does HTO have a great story to tell, but behind it lie eggs of quality,” said Chalee Kader, head chef of Surface Kitchen in Bangkok as well as food stylist and consultant. “I was introduced to this product not very long ago and to my surprise found an egg that looks great and has an excellent taste. When broken onto a plate you could immediately see the difference in quality–strong albumen and beautiful yolk. I have personally switched to using HTO eggs in all the restaurants I own and consult for, and even at home. Truly worth it.”
Along with Surface, well-respected Bangkok eating establishments like Karmakamet Diner and Tribeca Restobar are making Hilltribe Organics’ free-range and socially conscious eggs part of their menus. Villa Supermarkets now carry Hilltribe Organics eggs, joining the array of genuinely natural foods for retail sale at stores across Thailand, including Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Lad Krabang, Udon Thani, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Phuket, and Trang.