Organic food has become a hot topic worldwide, as people grow wary of pesticides and factory farming. Chinese and expats living in China, hard hit in the last two years by tainted pork scandals and the infamous melamine milk powder incident which sickened many children, have even more reason to want food that’s natural and free of potentially deadly chemicals.
However, ascertaining that something is truly organic can be very difficult, especially in a country that suffers acid rain and polluted waterways, and many are unwilling to fork out the extra dough for something that may not be any safer or healthier than the item without the little green sticker certifying it’s organic.
There is reason to be wary of the certification of organic products in China, if only because the certifying process is so complex – there are two different government ministries and 21 agencies that claim right to certify food and other natural products organic.
This article – Going Organic in China – explains the regulatory systems, the pros and cons of organic food in China, and the economic issues surrounding the rapid expansion of the organic food industry in China. It also provides some pointers on where to look in different Chinese cities for organic food and other natural items. But we wanted to know if you look for organic labels when you head to supermarket, and if you eagerly buy them, or steer clear of the high, and possibly suspect, price tags…
Do You Buy Organic Food in China?
Perspectives seeks to promote dialogue and cross-cultural understanding by featuring Chinese and foreign responses to a single question. Email us to be added to our weekly question mailing list or to suggest questions of your own and feel free to add your perspective in the comments section below.
I sometimes get organic vegetables, but only if they are right in front of me. I don't search them out.
D / US
No. I don't know where to find it here. I doubt very much that the Chinese give two hoots about organic food.
S / UK
I don't buy organic food. There’s actually no any difference between organic and regular. Only that the price for organic food is double or triple that of natural food. I'm not sure that the quality of organic food is better than normal foods.
Most definitely, I do all the time in my home country Canada. I only wish/dream of buying it in China but it is not available in my small city of Beihai, Guangxi Province. It seems that vegetables grown in China are not always fit for human consumption. I really feel the food source cannot be guaranteed as clean and likely some or all of the veggies I eat are tainted. If someone in Beihai could please grow organic veggies I will be your best customer.
Newsletter / Canada
Z / China
I try to, but only the big supermarkets have organic items and I like to shop at the small stands near my house on the way home from work. I’m not sure organic products are good for the environment because they need more land, and are often driven long ways to the cities. But I think for me and my family they are good, because many products in China now contain harmful chemicals and my son is still quite young and not very strong yet.
Q / China
Photo: Fred Dintenfass
Yes, especially vegetables.
V / Italy
I would like to eat healthier, but don’t believe the organic food here or in west is really organic. Sorry, but there’s just too much money to be made. And I don’t trust China’s food regulatory systems at all. If I can pay normal price for deadly milk why would I pay four times as much for probably the exact same thing?
R / US
Yes, I have been buying organic food, either imported from western countries (like America or Australia) or organically labeled grocery in Beijing for my baby. With regards to organic food grown or manufactured food in China, I am not always so confident with the Chinese labeling system. With the occasional food, milk scandal and corporate corruption we often hear in the news, it makes us quite wary and distrusting of claims from anything truly Chinese.
Newsletter / Australia
Going Organic in China
70 ill in China after eating tainted pork: state media
Tainted milk powder sickens 1253 babies in China
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