We cannot deny that China is one of the most criticized countries for the malpractices that manufacturing companies are doing. China is one of the most popular exporters of toxic toys made of plastics and fake or knock-off designer bags and apparels. It is also the same country that supplies numerous baby products made of BPA-contaminated products. Added to these terrible practices are the latest scandals that include rat meat being sold as mutton and baby formulas that have traces of melamine. People have also raised awareness on possible water contamination after hundreds of dead pigs have been found in Shanghai River. These are apparently hair-rising experiences that deliberately lead to the consumers’ dire need of organic foods resulting to its boost in sales.
A lot of Chinese people consider the indulgence of organic foods to be an investment instead of a waste of money. Chinese consumers, especially those whose loved ones have experienced cancer, are starting to choose organic over non-organic food choices, noting that the former are raised and bred in cleaner and healthier way. Such practices are found to be advantageous in reaping the full benefits from these foods. Consequently, the demand for organic foods in China has soared. They’re more than willing to pay more money just to have a good supply of organic foods on their dining table. Because of such demand, local farmers are switching to organic gardening, saying goodbye to fertilizers and chemical based pesticides while giant retailer stores such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc are focusing on selling organic goods only. In fact, Wal-mart’s China-based chief compliance officer, Rob Chester, have noticed that China is the only country where food safety is given more prevalence and consideration than price. Indeed, Chinese people are more health conscious these days. In fact, an annual online poll launched by People’s Daily last year showed that food and drug safety are ranked as the third prime cause of anxiety of most ordinary Chinese this year. Lat 2013, the poll revealed that such issue was ranked 7th. Thankfully, the State Council released a statement to improve China’s food quality by developing cleaner farming methods with the use of organic and chemical-free agriculture in the next few years. Meanwhile, numerous Chinese organic food buying groups have been created to buy organic foods in bulk, thereby, reducing its costly tag.
The sales jump of organic products in China is so apparent because of the huge difference of sales in 2013 compared to the sales in 2012. According to Euromonitor International, sales of organic honey and organic cereals have raised to 46 percent last year, reaching about 5.94 billion yuan. The figure is slightly higher than 2012’s 40 percent increase of sales of organic goods. Even food chains in Beijing Lohao City have experienced the boost of sales for up to 40% on all of their meals that are made from organic ingredients. The accreditation agency in charge for this matter has also noticed a 50% surge of accreditations issued to organic products in the country in 2013.
The good thing about Chinese consumers being more environment-friendly and cautious to their foods is the increase of earning potential to its local farmers. Local organic farmer in Chongming Island, Chen Xinrong, has never been happy since his business profits have tripled over the last four years despite goods sold at more expensive rates. His main goods are kale and squash, which he regularly sends to Shanghai and its nearby communities in hundreds of boxes. Even regular individuals in Beijing have started their own backyard organic farm, hoping to raise their own goods and reduce expenses on organic goods sold at markets at high rates. Aside from vegetables, local farmers have also started selling organic Yunnan rice and Xinjiang organic red dates.
But how safe are organic food choices anyway? To define, organic harvests are those derived from organic farming or organic gardening with which natural fertilizers, pesticides, and environment-friendly methods are practiced. Environmentalists and consumers believe such practice can yield much cleaner and safer produce compared to farming where chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides are the main resources as traces of these toxic substances might still be present in the plants even after washing them. However, some experts note that organic goods don’t necessarily mean healthier goods.
On the one hand, the ongoing trend of organic foods in China has led to numerous fraud cases such as the case of fake organic eggs in Beijing in 2012 and an organic vegetable farmer whose produce have been found to have traces of pesticides. Because of these instances, the Chinese government has issued stricter and full implementation of certification standards on organic gardening to ensure that fraud cases are put to halt. Consequently, a law imposing 500,000 yuan fine to any organic farmer using chemical cased fertilizers and pesticides has been promulgated. Certification paper works and labels are also imprinted on the packaging of duly certified organic goods.