Usually after 500 people congregate for a three day conference, mountains of plastic are left behind. We had none. The launch of the Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative was a zero waste event. Meals were cooked by the monks and served on banana leaves. We drank tea and filtered water out of hand hewn bamboo cups. It makes my heart sing and I believe it sent a powerful message to the residents of the area: modern doesn’t always mean better. After the formal event, we took to the fields. Organic agriculture experts from wonderful Ms Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya school of farming in Rajasthan met with local farmers at a small farm, sharing their wisdom and also learning from the Bhutanese. It was a jolly affair. I took the opportunity to hang out in the farmer’s kitchen with the ladies to learn how to make hootch. They enthusiastically showed me the whole process, with the translation help of Thinley, a BBS radio producer, and after my lesson they filled my bamboo cup. Then we all gathered and ate fried hard boiled eggs, local rice, sabji and chilies, sitting on the floor with the farmers and Indians and members of parliament, all together. This was fine dining at its best.