Archive for the ‘Food’ Tag

Volunteer in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Last week, I volunteered in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and worked as a representative for the OAC and the university. The University of Guelph display also showcased the cutting-edge research, e.g. bioproducts, animal welfare and biodiversity.

The role of my partner and I is greeting visitors and answering general questions about the OAC and its program. And we interacted with many students and their parents, who were interested in the OAC, and the alumni who were excited to see their alma mater in the fair.

As these high school students and their parents, the main questions focus on “what are the admission requirements for a specific program” and “I want to be a vet”. For the first question, the answer is to see the admission book for more information because these requirements vary by program. Then for the second question, the doctor of veterinary medicine requires at least three years of an undergraduate science, and it’s extremely competitive, so you should keep your marks high during that time, and then apply for it.

I worked for three days; it’s really fun and challenging. This is a picture of me in the fair below.

Fruit and Vegetable London

A photographer Carl Warner and his team has recreated London’s iconic skyline using 26 different types of fruit and vegetables, for example, the Houses of Parliament.   (From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk link

These are the excellent works:

London's Tower Bridge made from runner beans, celery, pineapple and Shredded Wheat

The London Eye made from radishes, runner bean, rhubarb and a lemon

London's skyline has been recreated using fruit and veg as part of a promotional campaign

“There’s no difference between juggling tofu and juggling balls”

“A viral video in China of a middle-aged woman who sells tofu in a market. She juggles a block of tofu like a football (soccer ball) and performs other tricks, amazing bystanders. In the end, the video reveals itself to be a viral advertisement.” (From YouTube)

FreeRice: donating 10 grains of rice if you get each answer right

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That is an interesting site. It is a “non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program.” And it has two goals: 1. Provide education to everyone for free. 2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

So when you get right for each question provided by the site, they will donate 10 grains of rice for the hungry people in the world.

The subjects of the questions include: Art, Chemistry, English, Geography, Language Learning and Math. And they donated 12,255,121,230 grains of rice in 2007!

Try it now!  http://www.freerice.com/index.php

Why did the Taiwanese man eat cow dung?

As what I posted last week, “Taiwan lifts ban on U.S. beef import”, Taiwanese feel disappointed about the government. Then several days ago, a Taiwanese man, zhenlin zhu, has shooting a video on eating cow dung hamburger to protest the import of American beef.

In this video, the man said, “Eating American beef is more poisonous than eating cow dung!” He made a hamburger with cow dung, and then said:” I’m sure that this Taiwanese cow dung hamburger is absolutely safer than American beef, although it looks dirty.” After that, he swallowed the hamburger with a sad expression, and at last, what he wrote on the video is that:” I will use the painful of my body to warn the apathetic government!”

In this video, he said that, the government lift ban on the import of U.S. beef, which regardless of people’s health. You have no choice! Once the beef is imported, they will be everywhere!

Why are Taiwanese so afraid of it? From the comments I noticed that there are several reasons.

On one hand, the infectious agent in mad cow disease is a specific type of protein called a prion, but someone has one kind of gene, which will be immured to this protein. In Europe and America, 45% ~50% of people have this gene, while in Asia; only 4% of them have it.

On the other hand, Americans don’t eat the internal organs, where the prion proteins will aggregate, but Taiwanese people love to eat. And someone also concerned that the bones (After being grated) which will be used as part of feed of livestock, will cause contamination of food chain.

The back shadow of melamine

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One year ago, a milk scandal occurred in China. It’s reported that Chinese milk powder contaminated with melamine sickened more than 50,000 infants, including 4 deaths. This issued seriously damaged the dairy industry and Chinese consumers lost confidence in native milk products. As a result, the head of major Chinese dairy firm Sanlu Dairy went into bankruptcy; The former chairwoman of Sanlu Dairy was sentenced to life in prison and three others received death sentences. In total, more than 60 people have been arrested in connection to the scandal.

Recently, it seems that the Chinese milk market is recovered. The latest data shows that from January to July, the nationwide diary industry has recovered to 70% of the pre-scandal consumption level. The three giant diary brands–Mengniu Dairy, Yili Dairy and Bright Dairy still rank the top three in Chinese diary market, and the industry structure haven’t changed much, neither.

Melamine

Melamine

However, does the melamine totally disappear in China now? The positive results may probably base on two judgments. One is that the enterprises involved in it have paid too much for this; the other one is the government has paid a large amount of compensates and revised some more safety standards.

But what Chinese government did is just an overall control. The truth is the diary industry still faces the shortage of original milk, and the establishment of that is weak. On one hand, the government improves better technology and management so the quality can improve, on the other hand, it just focus on “this issue”, that is, if some other problems occur, we may not have enough preparation for them. In the meantime, if the three giant diary brands’ development only result in government’s effort, that will also be the sorrow of theindustry.

Fair Trade: Is That Good for Us?

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The Coffee World Map (source: www.gardfoods.com)

What is fair trade? Let us refer to the definition in Wikipedia. It says, “Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.”

In other words, fair trade is kind of “conscientious consumption”. That is, you can buy products in a reasonable price, at the same time which develops opportunities to people (most of them are poor famers, or handicraftsmen) in the area of origin. It’s beneficial to both sides.

In China, the rural areas take a large amount of country, and the number of farmer is the largest in the world. But many farmers are living in a low lever living quality, what they owned for one year’s labor may only afford their living. If fair trade be the mainstream market in agriculture of China, Chinese farmers will get the maximum benefit. While at this time, it is hard to reach that. More realistically, requesting developed to reduce agricultural subsidies will be an efficient way, which can decrease the import from other countries and leave enough market to the local farmers.

In 2003, Dr. Liang did an investment in Guangxi province (in the western part of China), and wrote a report about the unfair trade sugar industry in China faced with. She analyzed that between 2001 and 2003, the sharp decline of international price of sugar severely damaged the Guangxi’s sugar industry, which leaded to the low income for the sugar farmers. Dr. Liang indicated that if there were a fair trade organization, the situation will not be that worse.

In most time, poverty and hardship limit people’s choices while market forces tend to further marginalise and exclude them. But fair trade can draw consumers closer to producers, and reduce the unnecessary exploitation in the market. Now fair trade has some large organizations such The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), The World Fair Trade Organization, The Network of European Worldshops (NEWS), The European Fair Trade Association (EFTA). There are 25 stores approved by World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in Asia, including an embroidery company in Yunan.

Products: Where do you come from?

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In recent years, some Japanese products are pretended to be made in China, which rises the “fake wind” of the food industry. It is reported that one fruit company in Shizuoka was searched for faking the bamboo shoots imported from China as home-grown. At the same day, another food processing factory labeling the Chinese eels as raised in Japan was been prosecuted by Tokyo court.

In Japan, most domestic products are more expensive than exotic ones. And the point is that Japanese products are of good quality, which is common sense in Japan. On the contrary, the passport of Chinese products is “cheap”, which means that many cheap daily necessities come from China. For example, most of the products in hundred shops (every commodities in this shop is 100 yen) are made in China. The same thing happened in Dollar store in North America.

Several days ago, one article caught my attention, which is about the bitter harvest for some Canadian wineries. In this article, it says that in Ontario some large Canadian wineries are allowed to import cheap foreign wine, blend it at Canadian facilities and bottle and sell it under the “Cellared in Canada” label. But it makes consumers think they’re buying local product when that may not necessarily be the case.

These two situations describe the similar problem, which all due to the price of the products. In my opinion, the original place of production is not so important, yet the quality of that is what we need to pay attention to.

References:

Embarrassment to Chinese products: Japanese products pretend to be made in China

Bitter harvest for some Canadian wineries

Chinese mooncake’s export face the tough time this year

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(The above graphic is from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service homepage)

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming soon, and eating mooncake on that day is a tradition for most of the Chinese people. For someone living overseas, they are more eager to eat mooncakes from their hometown. But this year, the mooncake export in China faces up with more strict standard set by other countries, such as the US, which restrict Chinese mooncake export.

Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. A thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2-3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. And many other types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture, for example, sweet bean paste, taro paste, jujube paste and so on.

As for import of mooncake from China, America, Canada, Spain, Australia and New Zealand all prohibited egg products in mooncake fillings. European countries have tight regulations on moon cakes with nut fillings; Japan has also added regulations about preservatives and additives used in moon cakes. France, Germany, Thailand, Sweden, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria all prohibit the sending of moon cakes by post.

Recently, the US Food Safety and Inspection Bureau of the Department of Agriculture has mandated that food containing traces of meat, poultry and egg products need be manufactured under supervision of US food inspection authorities or trusted foreign food safety and regulation agencies before being admitted into the US. Hui Lee, a manager of a mooncake company, said: “If we make mooncake by their standard, it’s not mooncake any more. So we canceled all the orders this year.”

References:

1.Dark Side of the Moon Cake: Countries Ban Holiday Imports

2.中国月饼海外受阻 ( Export of  Chinese mooncake runs into obstacles )

3.Mooncake (from Wikipedia)