CSAs Crop Up in China in Response to Food Safety Crisis

Much like the US, but perhaps in more exaggerated ways, China has been dealing with food safety issues in recent years. The contamination and toxicity of food has Chinese consumers alarmed and skeptical, wary of what they bring home from the market. In fact, statistics show that up to 70 percent of Chinese citizens feel their food is unsafe. And while the government has promised to enforce more stringent food safety regulations, most government employees and major companies have food grown specifically and privately for their offices in order to avoid any contamination issues, a sign that change won't be coming anytime soon.

So what's the Chinese citizen to do, but take matters into her own hands? Such is the example set by one young Chinese farmer, featured in USA Today. She and other farmers are bringing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) trend to China in response to feeling insecure with the government's lack of food safety regulation. Although the CSA trend is only just beginning to take hold, with a mere 40 CSA farms now operating in all of China, farmers have seen an amazing response from people who want to eat safe, healthy food.

While vegetables and other produce purchased from a CSA in China is likely to be well above market price, farming isn't necessarily a lucrative business to get into. However those who do choose to farm feel an obligation to work against the environmental degradation, lack of safe food, and to sustain fellow citizens. It's also an obligation to help educate their community about protecting themselves and the environment. Chinese CSA farms are dedicated to growing without the use of pesticides and herbicides, which are too often found in scary quantities on conventional Chinese produce.

It's encouraging to see that CSAs are spreading far and wide, and meeting the basics needs of people everywhere who want to eat healthy, safe food. As our global food systems grow more and more out of our control and industrial, CSAs and sustainable agriculture become more and more necessary. While it is true that we (and China) need much better regulations to keep toxics out of things like baby formula and provide more traceability, there is also a more people-driven, grassroots response to food safety, as manifested in organic CSA farms.