Citi-Farm Eco Cafe: Fresh Food, Low Impact

Well, I found myself in the Bundang area the other day. (Bundang is a satellite city south of Seoul.) After concluding my business there, It was lunchtime. I could have easily just gone into any old Korean restaurant and ordered myself some bibimbap or something, but one particular restaurant caught my eye. It was the Citifarm Eco Cafe.


What’s an Eco Cafe?

That’s a pretty good question, because if you ask me, cafes are the antithesis of being environmentally friendly, what with all the slash and burn coffee agriculture going on in the rain forest countries, the use of disposable paper cups and their plastic lids which (recycled or not) are disgustingly wasteful, the use of pre-packaged individual sugar packets that often find themselves in the trashcan unopened, the plastic stirrer that you use only once and throw away, and idiotic things like that. A cup of coffee shouldn’t generate that much garbage, while simultaneously contributing to global warming through the transport of raw materials. Obviously the coffee itself must be imported, but to make paper cups, trees must be cut down (deforestation), then transported to paper factories (transport pollution), then made into paper cups (factory pollution), then transported to the store (transport pollution), then used, then hauled away as garbage (again, transport pollution). Notice I haven’t mentioned anything about the lids or holders or stirrers or anything.

You’re a tree hugging hippie!

Actually no, I’m not. I eat meat, I like to drive, I probably waste electricity, and I don’t really think about where my garbage goes. In fact, I don’t think about the environment nearly as much as I should. But the point of this article is to talk about the Eco Cafe, which is an attempt to provide an organic, eco-friendly meal to the customer. At Citifarm, they strived to do exactly just that.

So what’s Citi Farm like?

Well, when I first went in, I was surprised that the friendly staff greeted me in English. Not just with the standard “Hello, Welcome” but rather with fluent Standard English American English. It was very surprising to say the least. I at first thought that all of the food was quite expensive. Then I learned that almost everything is organic there. Organic food is of course, more expensive than non-organic food, but is better for the environment and for the consumer. The décor of the place was decent enough. It looks like a standard café.

Dirt? Sun? Who needs it?

So it’s just a café with organic food and without paper cups?

Well, that’s not all. There is also a high-tech angle to this all. All the lettuce in this place is grown on site in a back room, without soil, and with the use of LEDs instead of sunlight. There are no pesticides, (as there are no pests), there are no preservatives (as living lettuce can’t go bad) and the taste of the lettuce is so good. Now, lettuce isn’t a particularly exciting vegetable, but honestly, if you compare the Citi Farm lettuce to something you can buy in a regular supermarket, Citi Farm’s lettuce is 100 times more delicious. This growing process was developed by a Korean technology firm called Insung Tech.

In addition to the high tech veggies, the cafe is a joint venture between Insung Tech and Rishi Tea Korea. Rishi Tea is a fair trade organic tea company based out of Milwaukee and in the spirit of the eco-cafe, it makes perfect sense that Rishi would be sold there. The man behind the counter later told me that he was the representative for Rishi Tea, so it is hitting me now, days later, that he is probably in fact a Korean-American, being that Rishi Tea is an American company. Now I feel like a jerk for being all surprised by his perfect English, because I hate it when people do the same thing to Asian people in the U.S. I guess I get a free pass for being in Korea eh? Sorry Mr. Rishi Tea man.

The delicious brunch set

I had the brunch set. In Korea (and Japan) a combo meal in a western style eatery is called a set. So yes, even in McDonald’s, there are no Bic Mac Extra Value Meals, they’re called Big Mac sets.) In the set were salad, sausage, eggs, coffee, tea, and bread. All of it was delicious, especially the salad. I have never tasted any meal where the lettuce stood out until that day.

You’re still a tree hugging hippie.

I disagree, but I think it’s time for us all to watch the environment more closely.

UPDATE

I found someone else’s blog on NAVER and was able to snag some other pics of other food offered at CitiFarm. I’d have taken the pictures myself, but that would have meant I need to order more food than I could eat.

A sweet pumpkin and ham and cheese sandwich.

Sandwiches, Bagels, Waffles, Salads, Salad Bibimbap, and the Brunch Set

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