Bad news stories about food safety in China abound in both the local and international press. These concerns aren’t unfounded, nor are they limited to China. Worldwide, it’s important to avoid foods contaminated with toxic metals, human growth hormones and pesticides. The presence of these substances in food sources has been linked to neurological problems, cancer, infertility, allergies and asthma, skin problems, ADHD and birth defects. Actively avoiding unsafe food also has long-term benefits for the environment, such as reducing reliance on fossil fuels, maintaining cleaner water supplies and reducing soil erosion. Given all the advantages that emanate from eating safe food, it’s no surprise that this is a prominent issue among the younger, educated generation of Chinese.
The good news is that this generation is taking active steps to correct the mistakes made during decades of heavy industrialization and mass production farming. Determined to resurrect China’s resplendent relationship with food, there is a community of young entrepreneurs, small businesses and government officials working towards a safe food solution in Shanghai. Ma Yun, listed by TIME Magazine as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People, committed time, energy and money towards supporting cleaner air and water quality. Several organic farms have emerged on the outskirts of Shanghai in recent years and their produce is of the highest quality. And then there are companies like FIELDS trying to make this food easily accessible. As consumers we wield great power to support initiatives that foster sustainable food safety; if we’re going to find a real solution, it requires collective effort.