The Growing Organic Food Scene in Kunming

The Growing Organic Food Scene in Kunming
By Caitlin Dwyer , eChinacities.com

Only a few weeks ago, another food scandal hit China. This time, dairy company Mengniu recalled milk containing aflatoxin, a cancer-causing agent (蒙牛称毒奶事件).  Citizen responses reflected accumulated outrage – in the last few years, food scandals have tainted everything from children's milk to cooking oil. China's growing food safety concerns have many people searching for an alternative. In Kunming, a desire for healthy, safe food products has led to a surge of interest in organic food. Away from the industrial centres of China's east coast, Yunnan Province seems ideally situated to begin experimenting with organics. It has immense biodiversity and an established agricultural economy. For some time, Chinese farms have been producing organic food for export to Europe and the Americas; recently, local demand for high-quality, safe food has begun to develop the domestic market as well.

1) Haobao Ecological Farm   好宝箐生态农业园View In Map
Several farms near Kunming now grow organic produce. The most well-known is Haobao, a large farm in the Haobaoqing valley, which grows vegetables and raises meats without pesticides or chemical additives. Haobao was one of Yunnan's first farms to gain official organic certification and remains a leader of the growing local industry. About 35 km from Kunming, Haobao isn't easy to reach without a car. Luckily, visitors can ease their travel stress by staying overnight in the small guesthouse on the farm. Hoping to attract visitors and raise awareness of organic farming, Haobao also has a restaurant, which serves up fresh Brussels sprouts, organic chicken and chilli-laden Chinese dishes. For residents of the city, Haobao's produce is available through weekly deliveries.  Salvador's Coffee Shop (see below), a popular hangout with foreigners and locals alike, serves as a pick-up spot for the boxes, which must be requested ahead of time. Each box includes an assortment of seasonal vegetables from Haobao – greens, herbs, melons, lettuces and more. 

Add: Leju Village, Tuanjie Township, Xishan District, Kunming
地址:昆明市西山区团结乡乐居村
Tel:  087 1519 1289
Price: Room in guest house for 80 RMB per night
Website: www.haobaoqing.com (Chinese)
Getting There: From central Kunming, take Bus No. 101 or 133 toward the Bamboo Temple (筇竹寺).  Just before you cross the railroad tracks on Xichang Lu (西昌路), transfer to Bus No. C61.  The road ascends away from Kunming up a forested hill. Get off at the Bamboo Temple and take Bus No. C63 to Heping Village (和平村). When you get to Heping, you will have to hire a mianbaoche or local driver to take you the rest of the way to Haobao Farm. Alternatively, you can hire a local driver for the day, or, if you're quite fit, join up with Kunming's avid cyclists to bike out to the farm.

2) Salvador's Coffee HouseView In Map
Salvador's has become something of a leader in terms of sustainable and responsible food production. Partnering with local villages – from where the waitstaff come – Salvador's makes its own ice cream, feta cheese and baked goods, among other things. Most of its produce is sourced from Haobao or other organic producers; the owners also scour the markets and the Internet for deals on organics. Colin Flahive, one of the owners of Salvador's, says the goal is to become a fully organic restaurant in the next few years. A glass case in Salvador's entry displays products for sale. Everything from lip balm to yoghurt to ground beef makes an appearance. While the prices are higher than might be found in a local market, the products are high quality and all organic. Better yet, some of the profits are given back to local villages to support sustainable agricultural development.

Add: 76 Wenhua Xiang, Wuhua District, Kunming
地址:昆明市五华区文化巷76号
Opening hours: 9:00-23:30
Price: 25 RMB per box of organic produce from Haobao; 30-50 RMB (dinner)
Website: www.salvadors.cn, www.greenkunming.com
Getting There: ride bus No. 1 to Wenlin Jie (文林街).  From there, walk to the intersection of Wenlin Jie and Wenhua Xiang; Salvador's is immediately apparent on the right side looking up the busy alley.

3) Zhongguo Jiankang Jiayuan Sushi Canting - 中国健康家园素食餐厅 View In Map
Several other restaurants in Kunming offer organic products for sale and on the menu. Zhongguo Jiankang Jiayuan Sushi Canting is a health food restaurant and store.  All of their produce comes from organic suppliers in Yunnan.  On the second floor of an innocuous-looking building, the Canting has a clean, cafeteria-like feel.  We received complimentary glasses of hot pine tea – a refreshing, juicy green beverage.  The eggplant had a lovely roasted taste, and a mixed green stir-fry garnished with pine nuts was juicy without being oily.  The Canting left us feeling both satisfied and healthy.  The health food store next door, which is attached to the restaurant, sells staples like muesli, oatmeal, and various kinds of flour, as well as a small selection of produce.  Many of the products are local and organic.

Add: 2F, 158 Wuyi Lu, Wuhua District, Kunming
地址:昆明市五华区五一路158号二楼
Tel: 0871 363 2288
Opening hours: 9:30-19:30
Price: 25-35 RMB per dish
Getting there: ride bus No. 10, 14, 66, 82, 84 to Yishujuyuan (艺术剧院‎) on Dongfeng Xilu. The restaurant is also an easy walk from Green Lake Park.  It is accessible via a side alley – walk behind the building and past the loading dock to reach the elevators.  A sign for “Sino-Agriculture” should guide you.

4) Aiyouduoshen -爱有多深 View In Map
Located in the north of the city, Aiyouduoshen is well-known vegetarian restaurant.  In 2011, they decided to become fully organic as well.  Serving tasty, occasionally spicy Kunming fare, Aiyouduoshen is slightly more expensive than the average Chinese restaurant.  However, given the quality of the food and responsible sourcing, it was enjoyable and worth the price.

Add: Beichen Walking Street #9/10, Kunming
地址: 昆明北辰中路商业步行街 9-10号
Tel: 087 1572 4222
Opening hours: 11:30-21:00
Price: 20-30 RMB per dish
Getting there: ride bus No. 92 from Green Lake Park or K1 from Beijing Lu.  From the bus stop on Beichen Dadao (北辰大道), turn right on Beichen Zhong Lu (北辰中路).  Turn right onto the walking street that leads into Beichen Xiaoqu (北辰小区).

5) DIY
The movement toward organics has also produced some innovative personal ideas.  A group including Salvador's owner Flahive recently took a DIY approach to organics.  Through Haobao Farm, the group purchased an organic wild boar.  They borrowed equipment and taught themselves to butcher the animal, making prosciutto, sausage and bacon.  The fruits of their labour are now curing, and will be available for consumption through various outlets around the city soon. 

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Keywords: Organic food Kunming Yunnan agriculture Kunming vegetarian restaurants Haobao Ecological farm China food safety

2 Comments

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1

Tom
comment|29888|0

Another Kunming restaurant well worth checking out is Tusheng Shiguan (Search for them on gokunming.com) . I've eaten there regularly since they opened and highly recommend it.

Jul 25, 2012 21:39 Report Abuse

2

Philippe
comment|23735|0

really good find for "Zhongguo Jiankang Jiayuan Sushi Canting", 2 min from my house! thanks!

Jan 17, 2012 00:47 Report Abuse