Growing Organic Market in China But Is It Only For the Rich?
Despite being the second largest economy on the face of the earth, and rapidly moving to become the first, a vast majority of Chinese wouldn’t know it. The 20th century for China has been marked with low living standards, totalitarianism, war and genocide.
Not content to suffer under only one ideology, China saw nearly 80 million people murdered under communism, only now to see its environment and its people further enslaved under the introduction of capitalism. Indeed, the Chinese people have suffered under a one-two punch coming from multiple enemies from all different directions.
Now the nouveau riche of China are looking around and realizing that the toxic soup of their country and the material which they call food is far below their standards. Instead of eating food that was produced in a virtual chemical factory, the successful Chinese entrepreneur is looking for food fit for humans.
In short, the upper-middle class and wealthy wants to go organic.
Consider two stories of two different Chinese men, not only on a quest for organic food, but in the middle of producing it. The article, published in the “Globe and Mail,” details the men’s journey by writing,
Han Xing did not become a farmer for the money. He already had plenty, as the founder of a communications equipment company. What he wanted was food not tainted by heavy metals or fouled with pesticide. He couldn’t find it in grocery stores.
So, like a rising number of wealthy Chinese, he decided to grow it himself, signing a 20-year lease on a 13-acre plot of land where he now has eight greenhouses, a giant fish pond and pens filled with more than 100 ducks, chicken and geese, the latter to defend the other poultry from local weasels.
Then there’s the greenery: cherry, peach, apricot, walnut and apple trees; an herb garden that sprouts cilantro, rosemary, mint and garlic; and plots of earth jammed with celery, tomatoes, broccoli, peanuts, strawberries, peppers, green onions, eggplants and grapes.
“We all felt food safety was an issue,” said Liang Hong, Mr. Han’s wife. “It’s better to have food from our own place.”
At Sun Garden, they grow corn to feed the animals and harvest branches to fire the stove. “We have an eco-chain,” Mr. Han said.
“Outside rice and flour, we grow all of our food here,” his wife added.
Before they set up the farm 45 kilometres outside the centre of Beijing, she had stopped eating local green vegetables, buying only produce she could peel, like potatoes and carrots.
“That’s why we decided to establish our own private operation,” she said. Now 40 families eat the farm’s produce, which they give free to close friends and sell to others.
At the Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Course, owned by Chinese-Thai billionaire Chanchai Ruayrungruang on the outskirts of Beijing, 2 1/2 acres of glass greenhouses protect soil imported from Denmark. A dozen hired farmers harvest some 5,000 kilograms of food a year for ultra-wealthy golf course members, said Mr. Cui, a man who answered the phone but declined to give his first name. Use of pesticides and fertilizers is strictly banned.
At another plot beyond Beijing’s main airport, Huang Bin oversees a 10-acre operation that raises pigs, sheep and chickens, which lay more than 600 eggs a day.
“I spend Monday to Friday at work, and come to farm on the weekend,” said Mr. Huang, whose company is involved in reducing energy use in construction and commercial property. He and some friends founded the farm as a way to pull out of the regular food chain, situating it on land that was once a state-run orchard. “Many Beijingers are looking for a place to get safe food,” he said.
Some customers make their first purchase when they drive by and see chickens flying through the orchard, where they roost at night – a vision of a very different kind of food.
Business is brisk, with people “lining up” to book popular pork cuts, like ribs and marbled meat, Mr. Huang said.
But while Mr. Huang and Mr. Han’s journey may seem like an ideal one and a sign of improvement for China and the Chinese diet, there is one thing missing – everybody else.
Both Mr. Huang and Mr. Han are wealthy Chinese people. They aren’t middle class and they certainly aren’t poor. While no one would ever argue that these two gentlemen and their families should not have access to organic food, it is fair to suggest that the opportunity to do so should not be solely theirs.
Already the political elite of China eat from secret farms devoted to feeding them and important people like champion athletes consume food that comes from a special military supply chain. Everyone else in China, however, is forced to consume to what amounts to food grade plastics.
The middle class do have a few options, however, as many take advantage of the internet to look for organic producers and sellers, but again, money and class are key. In fact, many of the wealthy class in China laugh at the idea of buying organic food online or from anywhere in China due to the country’s pollution. They believe it’s simply not possible to eat Chinese produced organic, safe food. For that reason, we’re seeing operations like those of Mr. Huang and Mr. Han.
While smog receives most of the attention in regards to Chinese environmental degradation, over 80% of water coming from wells in China is too contaminated to drink. Heavy metal toxicity is off the charts with a fifth of farmland tainted with toxic heavy metals. Guangdong province found that 44% of the rice and rice products sampled showed dangerous levels of cadmium. Food quality scares are the norm.
So why not simply be happy at the fact that the organic market is making inroads even in China? To be sure, the fact that a Chinese middle class is expressing interest in organic food is undeniably a positive development, but with a population of over a billion people, what about the other 75% of Chinese society? Are Chinese peasants somehow immune to toxic metals? Are the hoards of people living in poverty in Chinese cities not sickened by polluted water? Don’t they deserve access to clean food also? After all, it wasn’t the Chinese people that decided to turn their country into a toxic wasteland. Why should they have to pay the consequences?
It is certainly not a fair argument to make to the hundreds of millions of Chinese people who are consuming daily, food that is not fit for factory farm animals, that they should “work harder” or wait until market forces make the food more affordable for them. This is after all, the most basic of needs. It is thus, no coincidence that the people who tend to make these arguments are never the ones living with their consequences.
So while we wish Mr. Huang and Mr. Han the best in their endeavors, we also wish the Chinese people were able to consume the same quality of food as they are. While luxuries may be driven by market forces, work ethic and intelligent decision making, the basic necessities of life should never be subject to the size of a person’s wallet.
This article (Growing Organic Market in China But Is It Only For the Rich?) can be republished under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Brandon Turbeville and Natural Blaze.com.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies,Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 600 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.