Eating Paleo in Thailand: Where to Get ‘Hard to Find’ Items

Note: This post is more like Paleo upgraded, with Weston A. Price, Organic and other refinements and upgrades added in. If you’re just straight paleo you’ll find what you want, and if you’ve added in the refinements, you will too. If you don’t know what Paleo upgraded or Weston A. Price nutrition is check out a list of nutrition resources on the trusted resources page.

I’ve spent nearly 3 years looking for Paleo and Weston Price compliant foods in Bangkok and Thailand with some quirks in the process. Sometimes you find out what you bought isn’t what you thought you bought. This happens for two reasons:

  • It is often difficult to get reliable information on the food you buy here. Often you will be given a “Yes” from supermarket employees, and even the food companies themselves – when the answer should be “sorry, no”. You have to dig pretty deep to make sure you are getting what you actually want.
  • Food labeling on products here is also often not clear. Local standards of what you can say on products and ‘stamps of approval’ such as ‘organic’ are not well regulated (or more importantly controlled). There are some brands that position themselves as ‘healthy’ and spend a lot on marketing and advertising, but may not live up to your expectations.

To avoid getting something you didn’t want you need to dig deeper and do more homework on what you are buying. This often means calling and pestering the companies who produce the products in the first place or better – getting to know them firsthand.

The good news: I’ve done all the work and research already so you won’t have to. And you can get everything on your shopping list in Bangkok – if you know where to look.

To get all your paleo, Weston A. Price and organic compliant foods you’ll make use of A) select supermarkets with imported produce B) organic supermarkets C) speciality organic stores and companies.
These are:

  1. Select supermarkets with imported produce: Gourmet Market (Siam Paragon, Terminal 21, Emporium), Villa Market and to a lesser extent Tops Supermarket
  2. Organic Supermarkets: Lemon Farm
  3. Specialty Organic Stores and Companies: Radiance Wholefoods, OrgaThai and Raitong Organics Farm

I’ve found it a lot harder to find items ‘reliably’ or in sufficient range to make it worth a shopping trip to Big C, Tesco’s Lotus and the organic supermarket Sustaina Organics (from Harmony & Life).

Now to the meat of the post…

Grass-Fed Meats

Finding reliable and 100% grass fed meats has been the most complicated. Many times I have been told that meat from a butchers or specific farm is grass fed in Thailand only to discover on deeper digging that it was not.

The same issues also affect imported meat, as well as an additional sporadic problem with the freshness of the meat. A few times I have arrived home with fresh australian grass fed meat only to find that it wasn’t fresh and had to be thrown away – “an expensive mistake”.

So first let’s start with the “Sure Bet” safe 100% grass fed meats that you can get. From most reliable down are:

  1. Alliance New Zealand Grass-fed Beef (frozen): You can find Alliance grass fed beef in the frozen section of Villa Market. It has sirloin and T-bone cuts clearly marked with a green stamp “Grass fed”. Alliance (www.aliance.co.nz) has a solid reputation and there is no confusion over whether the meat is grass fed or not.
  2. Alliance New Zealand Lamb (frozen): Found in Villa Market and Gourmet Market in the frozen section. This is a guaranteed choice also.
  3. Alliance New Zealand Lamb (fresh): Alliance also has plastic sealed and branded lamb cuts at the deli counter in the Gourmet Markets.

Although it is not his main business Paleo Robbie, a paleo meals home delivery service in Bangkok, provides pastured and grass-fed meat for sale.

They have New Zealand and Australian cuts, but only the New Zealand is 100% grass fed (so you should ask specifically for a New Zealand cut). The New Zealand cuts are sourced from Ovation farms, and Silver Fern Farms. They are organic (free of hormones and antibiotics).

I haven’t tried this service, but have spoken with Robbie to verify the details, so if you do try it please share in the comments how it went for you.

The other sources that I’ve had less success with:

  1. Australian Imported Harvey Beef: At the fresh meat counter of all the Gourmet Markets they have grass fed beef available with several different cuts. These come from Harvey Beef (www.harveybeef.com.au), a company that deals with a range of grain fed and grass fed meat from external farm suppliers. Due to several issues with this beef I no longer trust or buy it:
    • Several times I have purchased beef from the counter and found when I got home that it had an off-smell and was browned rather than red (a sign to check for unfresh meat).
    • Unlike Alliance, Harvey Beef has no clear communication about the ‘grass fed’ quality of its beef and it is a company that works with all kinds of cuts and cattle. To my email enquiries about whether or not the beef was 100% grass fed or grain finished they replied “We have declarations from our cattle growers about the feed regime of the animals we process. But since the animals are not required to have a complete history in this regard, it would be impossible to give you any ironclad assurances.”
  2. Ku Beef (www.kubeef.com): Ku Beef is a local Thai experiment ran by a university for organic farming and raising of cows. The marketing and discussions with their staff led us to believe the cows were grass fed. However, when we tracked down the data on the meat we had bought via serial number it turned out it had been fed a diet of mostly corn and soy.
  3. Thai-French Butchers: There are a lot of posts on the Internet and in forums indicating this halal butcher has grass fed meat. However they don’t.

Other Meats

For your other meats like Pork and Chicken the best option I’ve found is the S*Pure Brand chicken and pork. The meat is from animals raised without antibiotics and added hormones. It can be found in Gourmet Market and Villa Market on both the meat counters and prepackaged in the fridges.

Safe Starches

Probably the best benefit to living in Thailand for Paleo dieters are safe starches. There are a variety of convenient options available in the supermarkets. These include:

  1. Organic White rice: In Gourmet Market, Lemon Farm and Villa Market you can find a few organic white rice brands including Great Harvest (เกรท ฮาเวสต) and ไทไท Green. Lemon farm sells its own brand.
  2. Japanese Sweet Potato: In 2012 Bangkok was hit by sweet potatoes which became popular quickly and are now available in all the gourmet markets, some Villa Markets and Top Supermarkets. You can get the organic pesticide free versions in Lemon Farm.
  3. White Rice Flour Noodles: These can be found in all the supermarkets. For the organic chemical free version Lemon Farm has a couple of brands (e.g. Golden Lion Korat Noodle – เส้นหมี่โคราช ตราสิงโตทอง).

Fermented Foods

For your fermented foods including Sauerkraut, kimchi, gherkins and some other versions a local fermenter OrgaThai has the raw versions keeping all the good bacteria intact. You can also purchase OrgaThai produce from Radiance Wholefoods.

There is also packaged Natto and Kimchi to be found in Gourmet Market, Villa Market and Tops Supermarket. However, since the product information is in Japanese or Korean I haven’t been able to establish if the cultures are live. The imported kimchi from Korea in airtight sealed bags looks likely to contain live cultures.

Organ Meats

Organ meats are the one item that I haven’t been able to find a completely reliable source for. But there are options.

S*Pure branded products found in Gourmet Market and Villa Market include Pork liver, chicken liver and chicken hearts. These are antibiotic and hormone free.

Paleo Robbie has Lamb Kidney available in the New Zealand cuts, and will get his first delivery of Beef Liver and Lamb Thalamus mid-June 2013.

Chemical Free Vegetables and Fruits

A wide variety of good quality chemical free vegetables are available in Bangkok, and some fruit.

After some experimentation and looking into the certification of the brands available I’ve settled on the following list:

  • Best quality (Adam’s Organic and Natural & Premium): These brands have the japanese, european and U.S. certifications and the quality of their vegetables is always good. You can find them in the larger Gourmet Markets (Siam Paragon being the best) and to a lesser extent in larger Tops Supermarkets and Villa Markets. You can also find these two brands on the first Saturday every month at Bo.lan organics market. Finally Adam’s Organic has a stall at the Green Market every Monday at Amarin Plaza (Chidlom).
  • Best convenience (CSA Munching Box from Raitong Organics Farm): Raitong Organic Farm delivers a 4Kg box of varied vegetable and fruit each week to your home. The quality is good and as they vary what they give you each week it helps to improve the variety in your nutrition.

The Royal Thai Project which you see in most supermarkets in the organics section looked like a good option but I was unable to verify what was chemical free. It seems some of their produce may be, but there aren’t any solid controls or certification in place to know for sure.

Eggs and Dairy

For those who have kept dairy and eggs n their diets the more Paleo friendly options are:

  • Anchor Unsalted Butter: Anchor butter comes from Grass Fed New Zealand cows and can be found in Villa Market, Gourmet Market and Tops Supermarket. Personally I make ghee with this to avoid the milk solids, and isolate the benefits of butyrate.
  • Pastured Eggs: You can order pastured chicken eggs as an addition to a CSA Munching Box from Raitong Organics farm.
  • Organic Eggs: In Gourmet, Tops and Villa market you can purchase organic eggs. The chickens eat at least some corn but are free of hormones, antibiotics and the chickens are free range. The best brand is Natural & Premium.

Note: S*Pure eggs have been heavily advertised in 2012/2013 in Bangkok as ideally healthy. However, when you look into the details you’ll find brands like Natural & Premium tick far more of the organic free range boxes.

I have yet to find raw milk (unpasteurized milk) or raw butter in Bangkok as Thailand has laws against the sale of unpasteurized milk. Two companies that are cited as providing raw milk are Dairy Home and Butterfly Organic Milk, however when I spoke to them directly they confirmed that they do not. If you still drink pasteurized milk these are probably the better organic options (without hormones/ antibiotics added) and are available in Gourmet and Villa market.

Fish and Shellfish

Thailand is famous for its fresh fish and there is a lot of choice in the larger supermarkets such as Gourmet, Tops and Villa Market.

The issue to be aware of with these is that many of the fish are farmed in Thailand and may have come into contact with pollutants. There have been Formaldehyde scares in the past, to the point that Lemon Farm advertises its fish as Formaldehyde free. In reality all fish in Bangkok at the least are most certainly formaldehyde free as there are checks in place.

There is such a range available and it varies week by week so I use a simple rule for buying fish here: Ask at the fish counter if it is wild from the sea.

If you are a fan of salmon, you can buy wild salmon (Alaskan) from the larger Gourmet Markets (brand: Lochfyne).

Supplements and Vitamins

It can be a bit tricky to get supplements in Thailand, especially quality or more non generic ones, so I wrote up a separate post on the system I created that allows me to get anything I need. Read about how to get supplements in Thailand here.

The Takeaways

You have access to most paleo, paleo upgraded and Weston Price foods in Bangkok. Shopping is a little more inconvenient as everything isn’t available in the one store.

I’ve got it down to an efficient routine with one visit to each of three supermarkets each week (Gourmet, Villa, Lemon Farm) and getting some add-ons through home delivery (Radiance Wholefoods, CSA Munching Box).

Have you found any of the missing Paleo or Weston Price items not on this page? Let me know!

Posted in Diet & Nutrition, Thailand
  • http://www.soultravelers3.com soultravelers3

    Interesting post. We are eating a paleo template/wapf diet in Penang and find in quite challenging in the grass fed beef area. We do have great DQ pastured chickens you should check out. We’ve got great raw goats milk and make it into kefir which is super healing.

    I am wondering if any of my organic stores can get some of this stuff like the meat. I know a LOT of people looking for grass fed beef here.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hey Soultravelers, great to hear you’re able to eat Paleo down there and have access to pastured foods! On the good side for the grass fed beef, more restaurants are popping up serving it in Bangkok. I’m not sure if that trend would stretch to Penang – these are mostly restaurants catering to a mostly expat market.

  • rn

    I have found beef bone marrow and Aus lamb leg bones at Central Chitlom for making broths. Do post if you find the raw milk! Cheers.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Thanks for the tip m! Yep, I’ll up date this post with anything new I come across.

  • Christine

    Great article. I am moving to Bangkok on June 1st and your info will make my life SO much easier. Thanks so much for writing it!

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      No problemo, glad to help people avoid all the running around and mistakes I made trying to find this stuff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobbieVerspui Robbie Verspui

    Hey guys,

    I started a Paleo meal service in BKK two months ago where I prepare meals 100% according to the Paleo diet guide lines based on Robb Wolf. All our produce comes from Adams Organics, N&P and small farms.

    If you guys are interested we have all our items available as whole sale. Grass fed meats(any cut) from Australia & New Zealand, Pastured Lamb from New Zealand and stuff like offal like Lamb Kidneys and Cow Liver.

    Look me up on Facebook -> facebook.com/paleorobbie

    All our prices are a lot cheaper than Villa or Gourmet Market. The only thing is that minimum orders are 1000 baht and meats come in large cuts of 1kg+.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebeccarobbie Rebecca Robbie

    Hi, do you know where in Bangkok you can buy Coconut Flour? I have checked Gourmet Market in SP, some Tesco and Tops Supermarkets but cannot find it. Love this article! It is very helpful.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hi Rebecca, haven’t seen coconut flour anywhere despite the abundance of coconuts. I think that the processing is only done in Western markets as I haven’t seen coconut flour outside of Europe/ North America as of yet.

      I know that iHerb sells it though, so you could get it imported at very little cost. Some ‘how to’ details of using iHerb to import into Thailand here: http://biohacked.net/buying-supplements-in-thailand-3-low-cost-options-and-getting-supplements-you-cant-find/

      • Emma

        Hi,
        I tried to order some vits through iherb but they turned down my order saying that due to new gov’t laws they’re no longer able to deliver here at this present time. I know they’re a great company -I used them all the time back in the U.K. -I’m gutted to be without any of my usual supplements:(

        • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

          Hey Emma, Sorry to hear that didn’t work – iHerb is such a good expat service. I’ve reached out to iHerb to confirm, as they still have Thailand listed on international deliveries in case you were given the wrong info – the “government laws” part sounds very strange.

          • Emma

            Hi Damien,
            Many thanks -please let me know what they say! I spent ages putting an order together then when I got to the check-out part and delivery charge etc that’s when it was declined 🙁 Oh well, I’m hoping to make it to Penang next week to stock up on a few essentials -can anyone recommend any good healthfood shops? The things I’m really after are flax oil, lecithin granules, ground flax seeds, sls-free toothpaste….actually this list could go on for rather a long time -I’ll just leave it there for the moment!

          • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

            Hey Emma,

            FYI: iHerb are delivering to Thailand again now. I’ve been told by a few people the last few weeks that it’s working just like before.

          • IngridBurling

            HI,
            Flax oil is available from some supermarkets. Mine was from Tescos – NaturesBlend.com.au. Lecithin granules are sold at many small vitamin counters in malls – we have one selling it at Major Mall, Ladprao (or at least they were when I last checked it out) – and as for sls free toothpaste, there is a mega-cheap oothpaste that I buy, called Thipnyom, herbal toothpaste, 40THB. It contains some sorbitol, but that is as bad as it gets. It has a nice taste and is efficient. In case you were wondering, there is an amazing tooth paste alternative; buy Kamillosan cold remedy drops from the chemist, put 4 drops on your toothbrush and brush with that, and be prepared to be amazed. Your breath will be fresh and your teeth super smooth. It’s all natural oil, it keeps your gums healthy and you can use the same spray as a little breath freshener once or twice a day without any bad side effects at all. Another option is to put two charcoal tabs (sugar-free ones) on your tongue, chew and then brush rigorously. Marvelllous! Best wishes, Ingrid. Bangkok.

    • Lian bennett

      Sunshine markets on soi 31 sells coconut flour you can follow them on Facebook they sell lots of great products.

  • Ben

    Heimat Nature’s Table Products are Paleo too. It is actually an alternative to the meaty side of the Paleo Life, as it offers all natural. gourmet nut spreads and usually doesn’t use any sweetener. The sweet items produced only use either honey or coconut sugar, which is Paleo as well. Heimat also offers organic coconut oil and other organic coconut products. Check it out on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HeimatNaturesTable (please feel free to remove my post, if you find this is shameless advertising; however, I believe this could benefit others in Bangkok.

  • Nila

    So good to see Weston Price-minded people here. Thanks so much for putting the work into this post – it covers everything I’ve been wondering about. I suggest Good Karma Thailand for health-oriented foods – online only. They deliver all over Thailand from Phuket.

    Also have a question: is there any ORGANIC grassfed butter like Kerrygold or similar here – can we ask supermarkets to import them or is that just too difficult? I like Anchor (NZ) but it’s not organic, is it?

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Thanks Nila.

      Actually, while there is a lot of buzz about Kerry Gold in the paleosphere, Anchor Butter stacks up better – it’s 100% grass fed while Kerry Gold is not.

      Neither company is strictly organic, but both do not use hormones with their cows and use minimal antibiotics. So they are pretty close from that perspective.

      Kerry Gold cows eat grass for around 312 days of the year, while Anchor butter cows eat grass for the whole year – 365 days. So Anchor Butter can be called 100% grass fed, but Kerry Gold cannot.

      Anchor butter also tends to be a lot more available in supermarkets around the world – so you can rely on having access to it from my experience. Better all round.

      • Nila

        That’s very good to know, thank you! I did read somewhere about New Zealand using antibiotics very minimally compared to the US. I hope the grass available to the (Anchor) cows is pesticide/synthetic fertilizer free (if that isn’t too idealistic). Have you come across any mention of that?

        This isn’t directly related but do you know of any genuine holistic/biological dentists in Bangkok? Or where one might find some good leads – I’ve done some internet searching but am asking just in case. I’m thinking about removing mercury amalgam fillings – but properly and safely… and having them refilled with something that doesn’t contain leaching BPA/plastic or other toxic compounds.

        Many thanks again.

        • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

          Well, I don’t know about the grass being pesticide free (some general environmental pollution will probably be there), but it’s certainly not a practice to spray grass with pesticides, it grows freely. So that’s not a concern or anything we can “act” on to avoid.

          I didn’t find any bio dentists while in Bangkok – mine was not that way inclined so I stopped going there when I got read up on the subject. If you do find someone please let me know.

          • Nila

            You have a point there. It’s impossible to be completely ‘clean’ anyway… I’ll continue to enjoy the Anchor butter. About bio dentists, I will let you know if I find any here. Thanks again!

          • Alli Suter

            I live in the US and will be moving to Bangkok for three month. I was 100% ready to pack kerrygold in my suitcase! lol I use it in my coffee daily. How does the Anchor taste in comparison? Do either of you know? 🙂

          • http://thequantifiedbody.net/ damien blenkinsopp

            Anchor is actually better than Kerry Gold – it’s 100% grass fed.

  • Some Guy

    I always buy the NZ Alliance frozen grass-fed beef however was concerned today to read about this report that many Fonterra (biggest dairy company in NZ) farms in NZ supplement with Palm Kernal Expeller http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9170655/Mycotoxin-potential-in-PKE-disputed. Very concerned since as you can see from the article they have found that it may contain mycotoxins. Is NZ Alliance owned or supplied by Fonterra?

    So hard to find pure grass-fed. I’m thinking of making a trip to Chok Chai farm and seeing if they will do a deal to raise a purely grass fed cow for me. I note according to their website they produce a dairy feed so their cows aren’t grass fed. Maybe they would do a deal. Although it would be hard for me to ensure they followed it.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Some Guy thanks for bringing this up.

      So it’s possible that this issue is restricted to dairy farming and non-grass fed meat (their cows are slaughtered for meat afterwards, but most likely low grade). Fonterra is primarily a dairy company and unrelated to Alliance NZ. NZ Alliance is a co-operative of farms.

      One thing to understand is that the economics of dairy farming are not the same as that for meat or grass-fed meat. So the companies have different motivations. With dairy farming there is a greater emphasize on ensuring constant availability of food as it effects the milk output of the cows. So for instance if there is less grass available due to drought in the summer, they have a greater motivation to turn to supplements to keep the cows ‘producing’ milk at maximum output.

      As I understand it there is not this same pressure for meat farming, as they don’t need to be producing day in and day out, and can follow a relatively normal high – low feed cycle through different seasons over the year.

      Anchor Butter is a Fonterra brand. So I’ve contacted Fonterra with respect to their Anchor Butter brand to verify whether PKE is used in feed for the cows that make it. Based on their website information this should not be the case “cows feed on grass only, 365 days of the year.” But it’s always worth verifying – because it’s surprising what comes back sometimes.

      • Some Guy

        Thanks so much for your quick reply and also for contacting Fonterra to see if they use PKE in respect to their Anchor Butter. I thought that all grass fed beef came from cows which also produced milk so your detailed explanation was very enlightening. Thanks again.

  • Pingback: Little to no access to organic anything | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page()

  • Roppon Picha

    very useful info. I love Anchor butter.

  • Chris Thailand

    http://www.theurbangreenscene.com/organic-produce/
    Found this link which says Adams organic might not be organic after all

  • ชยพล’ล คน’อินดี๊ อินดี้

    if it is difficult for you guys to get Thai foods, very easy, just go to http://www.gotasty.co.th you will get delicious foods delivery to your home easily.

    I normally order Pad Thai from Hoi Tod Chao Le shop via this website.

    it’s very good, deserve the prize from CNN. http://gotasty.co.th/watthana/hoi-tod-chao-le.html

  • Rayajredeyes Aditoslayertakoy

    Hi…. How to get codes from iherb. Com… So hard to find it… And please give me some advice… Thanks..

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