Throughout this trip, the restaurant Cabbages and Condoms has resonated the most with me. I never thought I would find something to be so passionate about on this trip and like my choice in the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities it came from the most unassuming place. On our way from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, we were told we would stop at a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. At first thought I thought this was a mistake because of the “Condoms” in the title but when I asked P’Beer, our tour guide, again she said exactly the same thing— Cabbages and Condoms. Growing up in a household that didn’t speak much about sexual health except for the occasional “if you want to succeed a baby wouldn’t help you”, it was surprising to see an eating establishment openly displaying information about sexual health in a country that I thought was extremely conservative; judging by the way I was told to dress for the trip and its militaristic government.
The restaurant not only gave me amazing food but also showed me how much the locals, organizations, and the government cared about people’s sexual health; a topic which had always been so taboo even in my conversations in America. Through both the human ecology and social justice lens, I saw just how important sexual health education was in the Thai community. In the 90’s the Thai government created an initiative to decrease the number people infected with HIV/AIDS through giving out 60 million free condoms to Thai citizens. Cabbages and Condoms came about later thanks to The Population & Community Development Association (PDA) to help rural communities be educated on sexual health while also receiving free contraceptives and delicious food. Through the human ecology lens we see how a national policy affected a community organization to make a change and significantly help with sexual health awareness. With advent of Cabbages and Condoms, PDA was able to help bring down the average from 7 children in a family to 2 children in a family. This changes the notion of large families in rural and poor communities and changes how families interact within human ecology.
As an American, who sees the importance of sexual education in rural and poor communities within America, I am inspired to help these communities through the ingenious use of food much like Cabbages and Condoms. From what I saw, using food to make a taboo subject more “palatable” has made a significant difference and I feel that it would be wise to try and implement it in more communities around my community at home.