The Kingdom of Bhutan lies nestled in the Himalayan Mountains between Tibet and India. Cut off for centuries due to its seclusive geography, the country is striving to open itself to the modern world while preserving its rich, ancient traditions and stunning natural wonders.
The people of Bhutan, numbering just 700,000, became famous several years ago when they adopted the popular philosophy of Gross National Happiness, which they believe is more important than a country’s Gross Domestic Product. They have now taken an important step, lead by the nations farmers and government representatives, to become the world’s first 100% organic nation.
According to the World Food Program, Bhutanese farmers mainly grow rice and corn, as well as some fruits and vegetables, including apples, potatoes and oranges. One of the few products currently exported to the US, Bhutanese Red Rice, an antioxidant-rich alternative to white rice, is available at Whole Foods Market.
Most of the country is still considered virgin organic farmland, and stands in stark contrast to countries like India, where ruthless manipulation of prices by big agricultural companies like Monsanto have driven more than 250,000 Indian farmers to commit suicide in just 16 years.
So, while the transition to an organic nation certainly won’t be easy, Bhutan’s success should set an example to other countries. As Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley so appropriately stated, “By working in harmony with nature, we can help sustain the flow of nature’s bounties.”
Christopher Daniels is Executive Vice-President of Greens Plus. He studied Holistic Nutrition at the Clayton College of Natural Health and currently directs Superfood Research and Product Development.