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By CCTV reporter Laura Luo
A string of food scandals has hit Chinese consumers in 2012: from plasticizers found in Jiu Gui liquor to white-spirit maker Moutai being accused of selling bottles containing toxic chemicals. As food safety issues are once again making the headlines, a market for organic food is growing from the grassroots.
Tomorrow in our special two more episodes focuses on the booming holiday economy in China.
In China today, more and more people are choosing organic food to minimise any potential hazard from food contamination. Some even opt to grow their own agricultural products, in a bid to guarantee the ingredients are green and safe.
Little Donkey Farm on the outskirts of Beijing provides a field for those who dream of a pastoral lifestyle. Families can rent their own lots of land, and grow their own vegetables. Or you can simply subscribe to vegetable delivery services.
Many of these families live in the city, but they often come here to spend their weekends with their children and pets. This so-called community social agricultural lifestyle is a modern concept that has recently been introduced to China, but is already spreading fast.
Dr. Zhong Fang, Director of Research Dept. Little Donkey Farm, said, "We started this farm in 2009, in the first year we had 17 members, now we have 1000 members, so the business is quite booming here."
The fertilizers the little donkey farm uses is 100 percent natural, making sure it’s organic from the roots.
Li Xin, Intern Anhui Agricultural University, said, "I’m mixing normal soil with worm-casts. It is the excrement of earthworms after they eat cow manure or decomposed garbage. Earthworms can digest kitchen garbage. This kind of mixture is good for seedlings. "
And the farm also raises some sports loving pigs.and a herd of sheep for milking too.
"Nowadays, with the food safety issues so alarming and the city’s air pollution so suffocating, coming out to the farm is beneficial in more ways than one. Not only you get to breath in fresh air, feed some lovely farm animals, but also you get to bring home your hand-picked healthy greens. "
However, healthy food is not cheap. A vegetable box delivered to the city costs 20 yuan per kilogram, while normal veggies are sold three to five times lower.
Mr Zhang is a long-time subscriber, he comes to pick up his veggie box, and goes home to prepare lunch for his son. He allocates a budget of about 400 yuan for organic food every month.
Mr Zhang, Beijing, said, " I think it’s worth it. Although it’s only a small proportion of our food consumption, but it reduces the risks of getting sick, which could get even more costly. And plus, these veggies have a much stronger natural taste, which is very different from the ones you buy at the supermarket."
A report by retail researcher Mintel estimates that over half of urban Chinese consumers have purchased fresh organic foods in 2011, and over 80 percent of them are likely to spend more on ’all-natural’ foods in future. Analysts say this could become a hot new growth area.
Kiki Fan, Vice President Retail Measurement, Nielsen China, said, "if you look at organic rice or organic milk it’s still a small part, only about 1 to 2 percent are contributed by organic products. While they have more than 100 percent growth rate among these products."
And China’s rising high-end consumer market is going green too. Restaurants like this one are promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Vanessa Guo, Dir. of Board, Beijing King's Joy Cultural Food Co., said, "We cook with gratefulness and love in our heart, just like the way our mums used to cook for us when we were young. Many of our customers are influential people, they come here because they want to change to a healthy way of dining, as our ingredients contain positive energy given by our land."
"The food here really brings back my childhood memories of what things taste like back then. Nowadays people have created so many new categories of food by using modern technology, but it seems what my body is craving for is still the basic flavour that mother nature had prepared for us, in the very beginning."
- Stanford study casts doubt on organic food 2012-09-15