I don’t mind a scoop of nam prik (chilli paste) in its many, spicy incarnations. In general, I enjoy the taste and texture. But I must have missed The Nation‘s wide-ranging homily about the benefits of this “super food” when it was published back in late September.

Some of the choicest quotes are:

“Due to its hot and spicy taste, you cannot eat nam prik without lots of veggies and some rice. That’s Thai wisdom in food culture. Today’s medicine confirms that vegetable fibre helps digestive systems.”

– Comment from Narumol Yuwanaboon of BioThai, a non-governmental organisation working on natural resources and diversity.

“By eating healthy food like nam prik, you will help support chemical-free farming and automatically help improve the environment and ecology in rural areas…If you grow vegetables and medicinal plants at home to eat, it will help ease global warming, too. Nam prik is part of the sufficiency economy. We hope more people will return to traditional dishes.”

– Comment from Arthit Phandej of the Food Safety Centre.

And then, in a final flourish, the article gives us the opinions of three Thai intellectuals on the campaign to promote the consumption of nam prik:

Social critic Nithi Eaosriwong supported the campaign if it promoted native vegetable consumption and conservation leading to food security…

…Anthropologist Chalardchai Ramitanon of Chiang Mai University said the campaign could help encourage natural-resource conservation.

Academic Lorm Phengkaew said it could fail without the promotion of cooking at home and discouraging the eating of junk food.

I do wonder if we will be hearing much more about this campaign to get more people to eat nam prik? It is, of course, drawing together some of the push-button issues of the decade: local wisdom, sufficiency economy, global warming, natural resource conservation, chemical-free farming.

Is nam prik the super food that that the world has been waiting for?