Tag Archives: Food

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

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.