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Recap: A Taste of China, Episode 4: Farm to Table Movement in Guangdong, 1.19.21

Recap: A Taste of China, Episode 4: Farm to Table Movement in Guangdong, 1.19.21

A Taste of China is an online series in partnership with WildChina exploring the different areas of China through its unique tastes.

In the series’ fourth episode, we traveled live to Guangdong to explore the rise of one of the most important sustainable agriculture movements on the planet. Young Chinese social entrepreneurs are working with organic farmers to deliver healthy food to urbanites looking for healthy lifestyle and food safety. We met the idealistic business owners and spoke with a farmer, who will share how his life has changed and cook us a dish with his freshly harvested veggies. You are invited to experience the program in the videos, quotes, and images below.

Full Video of A Taste of China, episode 4: Farm to Table Movement in Guangdong

Quotes From the Conversation

Matilda Ho:

There are multiple challenges we are facing, starting from food security. China represents 20% of the world’s population but has less than 7% of the world’s arable land. Now, that the Chinese government has started to ban certain fertilizers and pesticides, how can we continue to feed China’s population without hurting our soil or our planet?

Then there is food safety, every year, China still has nearly half a million food safety scandals or violations. How are we going to educate suppliers to bring safer food processing?

And finally, human nutrition. China currently leads the world’s population for both obesity and diabetes, both of which have no cure. A lack of consumer education is also a challenge: everyone aspires to be healthy, but most don’t know how. They don’t know how to eat healthier, and they don’t know if they can trust much of the information they read online.

The purpose of setting up Yimi back in 2015 is very simple: how can we bring and promote transparency from the farm to the table, and empower our consumers to eat best, healthier, cleaner, and more mindfully.

After WW2, every farmer in China is thinking about one thing, how can I “吃得饱” or “eat full.” As China grew more prosperous, Chinese people started to become more interested in eating well – how can I go from “吃得饱” to “吃得好” from “eating full” to “eating well?” This could mean, not just eating rice or vegetables, but can I have more pork, or more meat? And now, in the last 10 years, especially in places like Shanghai or Guangzhou, people are starting to think not only how to eat well, but how to eat healthy.

We are seeing a trajectory of more and more middle-class families that have these aspirations. What we are trying to do is help them change their behavior and give them access to a more accessible and affordable source to get those kinds of clean food.

Fred Young:

Rainbow of Hope connects individual farming households directly to 10-20 city families, so that the city families basically subscribe to the surplus food that these faming households grow. The city families get access to fresh food, and the faming families get income in return.

Who defines your food as organic?

This is often challenging for many distributers. Rainbow of Hope sets standards that require farmers to engage in chemical free, permaculture, biodynamic, or Chinese conventional farming practices. We work directly with farmer cooperatives, who ensure that no chemicals are used, and we will do random testing of the products to ensure compliance.

Finding farmers who are willing to participate in this kind of practice is not easy. Farmers love freedom, and don’t want to go through the trouble to pack everything each week, do this, do that. Many prefer their life to be simple. We rely on farming cooperatives to help find the right people, and to know the honest men within their communities, who are willing to participate in this process.

This does not come at a premium price for consumers. Because we create a direct connection been the two sides, we are able to offer produce between 30% and 50% less than produce on the market by reducing waste along the supply chain.

Xiong Guilin:

Xiong Guilin was born in Jiangxi province, and now farms mushrooms in Guangdong province. He graduated from a university near to where his farm is based. Xiong Guilin learned how to grow mushrooms in University. He started growing them in 2007 when he graduated and runs his own mushroom farm today.

Once the mushrooms are grown, what happens to all the waste?

After the mushrooms are harvested, the rest of the waste can all be composted, and turned in to organic fertilizer. Guilin has banana trees that benefit from the use of this fertilizer. The trees provide shade, which is good for the mushrooms, and in return, the fertilizer helps the banana trees grow.

Why did you return to farming after graduating?

I enjoy the freedom that comes with this life, something which resonates with many farmers. I prefer natural things. If I were to go to a large-scale mushroom farm, everything would be industrialized, and done indoors like in a factory.

If you didn’t go to university, would you be able to be as successful?

What I learned from the university has helped me a lot. Indigenous farmers in China need modern knowledge and techniques to help improve their production.

What else can you tell us about your life?

I have a car, and two kids who go to school in the county seat and return to the village every weekend.

Will they grow up to be farmers?

I cannot say, that is something that is up to them.

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