Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Are the Chinese People Afraid to Eat?

Why Are the Chinese People Afraid to Eat?

This is not a new story, but..... this recent Xinhua article first made me laugh, then cry, and then I think I just had a prolonged bout of, probably unrelated, indigestion: “Govt Plans to Improve Fading Public Confidence in Food Safety.”
Um, OK, yeah, that sounds like it might be a good idea. I mean, the mood out there is not predisposed to trusting the quality of food:
Nearly 70 percent of the Chinese public do not feel confident about food safety, a national survey has found.
More than half of the respondents said government management and surveillance should be further improved to properly protect people from unsafe food, it said.
I suppose after all the food scandals, including milk, cooking oil, and baozi in the past few years, to name just a few, there would naturally be some sort of erosion in public confidence. There are fewer and fewer things one can eat safely these days, which leaves you with three options: find clean ingredients and cook food yourself, give up eating, or eat from places you believe are “safe.”
Judging by the waistlines of Beijingers, I think that a lot of folks are equating famous brands with safety. In other words, instead of eating a jian bing for breakfast from a guy in a pushcart on the street (danger: those eggs might be fake, and heaven knows what that fried crispy thing really is), the “safe” alternative is a calorific Egg McMuffin and fried hash browns.
Let’s face it, food options are slowly decreasing in number. The Xinhua article on the subject is unintentionally (I think) hilarious on this subject:
Among the 24 kinds of food – including vegetables, fruit, seafood, cooking oil and water-based products – Chinese consumers were mostly worried about puffed and fried food, according to the survey.
Consumers told the survey they were also concerned about pickled vegetables, fresh meat and meat products, canned food, instant food and dairy products.
That sort of covers most types of food, doesn’t it? And just what the hell are “puffed” foods anyway? I’ve heard of puffed rice and puffed corn. Have I been missing out on puffed lamb skewers? Puffed chicken feet? Puffed dumplings?
But wait, there’s more:
The survey found that contaminated meat products, excessive pesticide residue and abuse of food additives topped respondents’ lists of the top threats to food safety.
I’ll go along with that. I’m down to occasional flecks of lamb in the hot pot and maybe some chicken breast on fajita night. Once you add concerns with dairy and eggs, basically any part or excretion of an animal is off limits these days, if you know what’s good for you.
I would consider going full veggie, but it’s not like fruits and vegetables don’t have their own problems, what with pesticides, dyes, etc. Too bad we can’t become literal vegetables — you know, produce chlorophyll and get our energy cleanly from solar energy.
In the meantime, I’d say the government has its work cut out for it.