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Chefs give Thailand's wild bees a helping hand

Northern hill tribe shows restaurateurs a sweet way to conserve forests

Karen hill tribe villagers display their prized wild honey. (Courtesy of Kongwuth Chaiwongkachon)

BANGKOK -- Kongwuth "Kong" Chaiwongkachon nearly gave his life so that Thailand's wild bees could live. Returning to his restaurant in Chiang Rai from an annual Bangkok dinner promoting forest honey collected by hill tribes, he suffered major injuries in a car crash. "Nearly everything was broken from the neck down," says Kongwuth.

A year after the accident, however, the proprietor of the northern Thai city's Locus Native Food Lab restaurant is back to doing what he loves best: highlighting seasonal northern ingredients, promoting sustainable and organic farming and learning from the region's ethnic Karen hill tribes how to forage for herbs and rare vegetables in nearby forests.

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