Appreciating the benefits of organic food
A job interview isn’t somewhere you’d expect to raise a laugh but that’s what I managed to do when I applied for my current job at China Daily.
As I was quizzed by the bosses at the paper’s plush offices in heart of the City of London, I was asked about my hobbies. I’d mentioned in my CV that I liked rock music and travel. Was there anything else, they asked, no doubt wondering how I would keep myself occupied in China.
“I like gardening,” I said, prompting some hearty laughs from my interviewers.
“You won’t be able to do much of that in Beijing,” they said.
Well, obviously not. But it’s true, I do love gardening and one of the saddest things I had to do when I came to China was leave behind my
This Day, That Year
ItemfromAug3,1997,in ChinaDaily:ABeijingresidentselectsclothingata departmentstorerunbythe high-endFrenchretailerGaleriesLafayette.Thecentral governmenthasapproved16 foreign-fundedventuresas thecountrygraduallyopens upitsretailsector.
Major department stores are cashing in on China’s insatiable appetite for foreign products.
Galeries Lafayette returned to the capital in vegetable plot.
Even as a youngster I was interested in horticulture and when I became a homeowner I always enjoyed tending the garden. However, it was when I became a parent that I became keen on vegetable gardening.
I was reading recently that Chinese people are becoming more enthusiastic about organic food, no doubt prompted by various scares about the quality of produce over the years. China has introduced strict standards to ensure its organic products are just that — organic, produced without the use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides.
When you become a parent, such considerations become extremely important. You don’t want your precious little one ingesting strange chemicals and genetically-modified monstrosities. My son is now 19 and I can proudly say he’s 90-odd percent organic.
When he was born, we bought the usual organic baby products but my wife 2013, 15 years after the French retailer closed its only store in Beijing due to poor sales.
In 2011, US retailer Macy’s started offering shipments to the country, encouraged by the heavy traffic to its websites from Chinese shoppers.
As the online business flourishes, physical stores are losing customers.
The 130-year-old British retailer Marks & Spencer has shut all of its 10 stores in the Chinese mainland. Its branch in Beijing was closed in March. soon graduated to making her own baby food from organic vegetables. We ate organic food ourselves — the taste bore no comparison to the perfect-yet-bland supermarket varieties. A potato really tasted like a potato, a carrot like a carrot.
But buying organic can be an expensive business. I’ve had supermarket checkout people look at me like I’m crazy for buying an organic chicken at several times the price of a nonorganic variety.
So I hit upon the idea of growing some of my own organic produce. We had a small plot of land with our house so I created four raised beds and planted a few things, with the intention of rotating crops every year.
The first year I think I planted potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and lettuce. To my delight, they all grew wonderfully well — a bit too well in the case of the lettuce. Have you ever tried to dispose of 20 soccer ball-sized lettuces that have suddenly come into your possession?
To meet the changing shopping habits of Chinese consumers, Marks & Spencer has opened stores on Tmall and JD, two of the largest online marketplaces in China.
In October, US e-commerce behemoth Amazon launched Amazon Prime in China to grab a bigger share of the lucrative market.
Last year, China’s crossborder online shopping grew by 24 percent to 6.3 trillion yuan ($924 billion), accord-
Over the years I adjusted my choices of crops. Some, such as most brassicas — cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage — were just too time-consuming for a parttime gardener like myself, who also had to work long hours. Picking off all those caterpillars was a chore too far.
I ended up choosing potatoes, broad beans, peas, garlic, kale and spring onions. Every year we looked forward to harvesting them and every year they were delicious, despite the best efforts of slugs, mice, moles, rabbits and even sheep to stop them getting to our table.
It’s true, I can’t do any gardening now I’m in China but I’m very encouraged to see that this huge nation is taking a responsible attitude and encouraging organic agriculture. Even if you don’t believe in the enormous environmental benefits, just enjoy the taste.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org ing to market consultancy iiMedia Research.
By 2020, a quarter of the Chinese population will be shopping either directly from foreign-based websites or through third parties, it said.
People swim across the Hanjiang River in Xiangyang, Hubei province, to commemorate Chairman Mao Zedong’s crossing of the Yangtze River four times between 1956 and 1966.