Back in 2006, USDA (United States’ Department of Agriculture) economist Fred Gales claimed that it is, “almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China”.
A large chunk of the problem is ground water. Organic certification in most countries includes a requirement that crops be grown on farmland that has been free from prohibited chemicals for a number of years, typically 3 or 5. Last year, China’s Water Resources Ministry published a report after its analysis of 2,103 wells in the country’s Eastern flatlands. Yes, here.
The Ministry’s study revealed that 32.9 percent of the sampled wells were classed as suitable only for industrial and agricultural use, while 47.3 percent were described as unfit for human consumption of any type.
So now that we’ve forgotten about organic in China, let’s instead talk about green ecological food; perhaps as close as one can get in modern day urban China to a healthy option.
It is this ecological food that is now all the rage in China. There is also no better illustration for this trend than the story of Babuluo. Out in the back of beyond in Nanjing’s far-flung Liuhe District can be found the Babuluo Eco Valley. Featuring Eastern China’s largest ranch, Babuluo combines eco-tourism with a modern agriculture learning experience in a unique area, previously volcanically active and now sitting on a crust that offers up 14 kinds of essential trace elements.
Then there is the shop/warehouse that sells much of the fresh, green, ecological food grown on site that is our subject matter here. Now I know what you’re thinking; “That’s a long way to go for some clean fruit ’n’ veg”.
Yes it is, but now Babuluo’s true business model has become known. Over the last few months, over 100 of their new brand-name, eco-food, little shops have sprouted in Nanjing; there is probably one near where you live. Look for the distinctive logo above and on the bread photo to the right.
Therein, a comprehensive selection of the kind of clean, fresh vegetables and fruit that ones needs for daily living, accompanied by some interesting meat options, that include, if you get there early before its sold out, beef not requiring of a slow cooker to become tender.
Saving the best for last (for the Carbophiles), and until now unheard of in China, Babuluo also sells run-of-the-mill, white, sliced bread almost identical to that found in any major supermarket in a western country. Elsewhere, pay ¥10 for a small pack of eight slices or so that is substandard, sweet and filled with fruit or walnut or goodness knows what. At Babuluo, the real thing is only ¥3.9. Baidu’s online encyclopaedia Baike describes Babuluo as being, “designed to provide the public with an environmentally safe food supply”. It may perhaps be exactly that, something which has been a long time in the making. Count yourself lucky that we live not so far away, on those Eastern flatlands of China.