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Phumtham Wechayachai’s Culinary Adventure: Thailand’s Commerce Ministry Revives Aged Rice for Modern Palates

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Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai enjoying a meal of aged rice

Imagine sitting down to a meal and being served rice that’s seen more birthdays than the latest smartphone in your pocket. Welcome to a unique culinary experience courtesy of the Commerce Ministry of Thailand, where Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai recently demonstrated the safety of eating rice that has been in storage longer than some of the interns at the ministry.

In a move that sparked curiosity and controversy in equal measure, the Ministry of Commerce unveiled a stockpile of rice that’s been dozing in warehouses since the days of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. This rice, a sleepy resident of Surin province’s warehouses for the last decade, has surprisingly been declared safe to eat, with a few caveats.

The hero of this riveting rice saga is none other than Dr. Yongyot Thummavudhi, Director-General of the Department of Medical Sciences. Dr. Yongyot and his team embarked on a grainy investigation, procuring samples of this vintage rice for thorough scrutiny. The verdict? This old-timer is not only safe to consume but boasts the same nutrient profile as its younger counterparts lounging on supermarket shelves. The catch, however—because there’s always a catch—is that it’s a tad more… insect-infested than what you’d normally find in your bowl.

A visually striking image accompanies this revelation: Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, in a bold move of culinary bravery, is seen sampling this storied grain. This wasn’t just any dinner; it was a statement meal, demonstrating that with a bit of cleaning, even the most seasoned of rice can grace our plates once more.

Dr. Yongyot assured the public that despite the rice’s unique “added protein” in the form of deceased bugs, it was free of any sinister toxins or residual fumigation chemicals. The message was clear: a little wash, and it’s good as new—or good as old, depending on your perspective.

But what’s to become of this historical harvest? Enter Krishnaraksa Jaidee, acting director of the Public Warehouse Organisation, who disclosed that over 15,000 tonnes of this gastronomic time capsule remain under their watchful eyes in Surin. Plans are underway to clean up and sell off this ancient bounty, offering a taste of history to those curious enough to partake.

This rice’s journey from government scheme to controversial delicacy is as fascinating as it is unexpected. It began as part of an ambitious project under Yingluck Shinawatra, transitioned through a period of legal and political turmoil, only to emerge as a testament to Thailand’s resilience and innovative spirit under the scrutiny of both Dr. Yongyot and Minister Phumtham.

As of 2018, the vast majority of this once-stagnant stock has found new homes, turning a page in Thailand’s agricultural and political narrative. Whether as a curious culinary experiment or a symbol of political change, this rice continues to captivate and nourish in equal measure.

So, next time you sit down to a simple meal of rice, contemplate the journey of those grains. From paddies to politics to your plate, it’s a reminder of the unexpected stories hidden within the most ordinary parts of our lives.


  1. RiceLover101 May 20, 2024

    I can’t believe they’re actually selling rice that’s been sitting in a warehouse for over a decade. Sounds risky to me, not to mention unappetizing.

    • CuriousChef May 20, 2024

      Interestingly, they did have it tested. If the scientists say it’s safe, I’d be willing to try. Sometimes, aged ingredients can add a unique flavor profile.

      • RiceLover101 May 20, 2024

        Sure, aged ingredients can be interesting, but we’re talking about rice here, not wine. The ‘unique flavor’ might just be musty old warehouse!

    • Skeptic42 May 20, 2024

      This feels like a desperate attempt to clear out unwanted stock. Public safety should come first, not offloading old produce under the guise of a ‘culinary experiment.’

      • HealthNerd May 20, 2024

        Actually, as long as it’s free of toxins and harmful bugs, age doesn’t compromise the safety of rice significantly. It’s more about the quality and taste potentially suffering.

  2. EcoWarrior May 20, 2024

    Isn’t this actually a great example of reducing waste? Instead of tossing it out, they’re finding a way to repurpose it. Sounds like a win for sustainability to me.

    • BudgetCook May 20, 2024

      I’m all for sustainability, but only if it’s actually sustainable. Eating old rice might have unforeseen health effects. Plus, the cleaning process to make it ‘edible’ probably uses a lot of resources.

  3. Foodie4Life May 20, 2024

    This is a fascinating story! From a culinary perspective, I’d love to see how chefs could innovate with such a unique product. Could be the next big food trend!

    • TraditionalCook May 20, 2024

      A food trend? I prefer sticking to traditional, fresh ingredients. This aged rice gimmick doesn’t impress me much. Call me when it wins a Michelin star.

  4. HistoryBuff May 20, 2024

    Aside from food safety and culinary curiosity, this project has a fascinating historical aspect. It bridges past government policies with current innovative attempts to manage agricultural surplus.

    • PoliticoWatcher May 20, 2024

      True, it’s an interesting link to the past. But let’s not forget the political and economic contexts that led to that surplus. It wasn’t just about rice; it was about power, policies, and the people affected by them.

  5. GreenThumb May 20, 2024

    I’m curious about the impact on farmers. This rice has to come from somewhere, and if it’s been sitting in a warehouse for this long, how has that affected the original producers?

    • MarketMaven May 20, 2024

      Great point. This surplus wasn’t just ‘found’; it was the result of specific agricultural policies. While it’s creative to market this age-old stock, the underlying issues facing farmers remain largely unaddressed.

  6. Gastronome May 20, 2024

    Would eating this aged rice truly offer a taste of history, or is it just a marketing ploy to sell off a problematic surplus? Color me skeptical, but intrigued.

    • SentimentalEpicure May 20, 2024

      It’s all about the story you tell. Perhaps it won’t taste different, but knowing its journey and the effort to repurpose it adds value in a way that’s not just about palate.

      • Gastronome May 20, 2024

        That’s a romantic way to look at it, but at the end of the day, food should be about quality and safety, not just a compelling backstory.

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