The Bad Earth


In light of the recent pet-food and hog-farm scares, consider this: Chinese produce is about the last choice an Asian shopper will make (outside of China, anyway). Chinese food safety (or lack thereof) is such an issue in the region that Asians routinely forgo foods produced and grown in China. This goes hand-in-hand with a recent BBC report that notes 10 percent of China's farmland is polluted. I still recall one of my first strolls through a Hanoi market more than a decade ago, when my hosts from the Vietnam Women's Union emphatically warned me: "Don't buy those pears in the little white wrappers. They're from China. Bad pesticides." Such was the prevailing thought in Vietnam back then, and I've encountered similar sentiments time and again throughout Southeast Asia. Chinese restaurants, Chinese recipes? Yes, of course. Vegetables grown in China? Not if they can be avoided.

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