Eating in China

In two threads below, readers have raised some intriguing questions about the safety of farmers growing crops on farmland polluted by industrial waste and runoff.

This raises a whole slew of questions. China’s water is probably the world’s most polluted. And yet seafood is universally popular there. And since water is the main ingredient of just about every kind of food, aniumal and vegetable, how can any food from China be unaffected by the pollution? Even in beautiful Kunming, in the heart of the country’s bread basket, there is a huge lake that is one of the world’s most polluted. So I am wondering, how can you eat fish and vegetables from China (and anything else indigenous to China) without becoming a receptacle for toxic substances? This is a serious question, and maybe there’s a factor I’m unaware of that makes these foods totally safe. Commonsense tells me, however, that if you water plants with poison, some of the poison is going to get into the plants. No?

The Discussion: 136 Comments

Sorry Richard, I hope you will forgive me for promoting on your blog with you doing so your self, but I feel this directly relates to your post.

You can damn the rivers and you can modify their course, but you can’t stop them from flowing.

July 20, 2005 @ 11:30 am | Comment


July 20, 2005 @ 11:30 am | Comment

Food of China in a Nutshell:

-Don’t eat out, except KFC or Mcdonald’s or other restarants that procure from overseas.
-Only buy fish and seafood and meat and vege and fruits from Asda, Tesco or other multinational supermarket chains that procure from overseas.
-The last rule can be extended infinitely to any edible stuff that is imported from overseas.
-Pray there is nothing wrong with your tap water.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

Damn, that’s sad, Bing. Such wonderful, delicious food in china and we can hardly enjoy it.

Here’s another tip – take charcoal tabs and drink aloe juice.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:13 pm | Comment

It took me some effort to persade my parents in Xi’an to eat China grown produce and meat as less as possible.

malnutrition is better than toxication, isn’t it?

July 20, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

Other Lisa,

Make sure the charcoal tabs and aloe juice are imported too. Otherwise you might be double poisoned.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

Bing, I’m genuinely interested in what you’re saying here (and not only for obvious selfish reasons I hope!). I noticed you made a couple of similar coments on the “New Riots in China” thread.

You really told your parents to eat less China-produced farm-produce and meat? I mean, is it that serious? Honest question.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

Or triple poisoned: food, charcoal and aloe. Can’t imagine. ๐Ÿ™

July 20, 2005 @ 12:37 pm | Comment


Here is part of a list of stuff I sent back to China since last november:

More than 40 tins of milk powder
5 bottles of honey
numerous Fish oil capsules (in replace of raw fish)
numerous garlic essence capsules (in replace of fresh garlic)

I’m neither crazy nor wealthy to send those stuff that can be bought or is not normally necessary in China.

And just give you one example. My dad is a angler and used to cook his fish cought from fishing pond (yes, they do fishing at reservoir or ponds dedicated for anglers). Now he just gives free to others all he gets (no one else thinks they are not edible).

The reason is partly that he visited me last summer and had some fish dishes here, partly that I warned him enough times with enough evidences (or gossips) I collected from overseas Chinese media.

If you guys in China do pay attention to Chinese media like sina, you won’t have one month or one week that no food poisoning (most man made crime during food processing just for making more money) incidents are exposed.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

They now buy salmon (imported from … don’t remember, but not China) from supermarket that is owned by foreigners if they really want to eat fish.

Damn the salmon is China is even expensive than here.

Here only 0.99 pound for two big salmon heads, which might be more expensive than the filet in China.

July 20, 2005 @ 12:59 pm | Comment

The only things I would eat out when I go back to China is, be careful richard, Roast Peking Duck and some dishs in Xi’an. Oh, I have to although I know there is a risk.

As said in a Chinese proverb: drink poison to satisfy the thirst.

July 20, 2005 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

Bing, I buy the charcoal tabs here (in the US) – I found aloe juice that is imported from Korea – you can buy it at a lot of the little Korean markets in Beijing and in the nicer department store supermarkets.

Along with lung cancer, stomach cancer rates are really high in China. Emma, the mother of my friend Paul, who taught English in Beijing for nearly 2 years back in 79 died of stomach cancer a few years later. We all always wondered if there was a connection between her death and her time in China.

July 20, 2005 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

Boy, I can’t wait to go back now!!

July 20, 2005 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

I think the formaldehyde in the Yanjing will take care of everything.

July 20, 2005 @ 2:31 pm | Comment

I had the best jiaozi in my life in Xi’an. God alone knows what was inside of them, but then, that’s the case with most Chinese food, isn’t it? The only way to maintain sanity is to adopt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell attitude.

July 20, 2005 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

Bing, most of the salmon in China is imported from Norway. (I used to do their public relations.)

July 20, 2005 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

I’m gonna go hang myself now. Bye.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Don’t bother, AM, the parasites and mercury will get you soon enough.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

Of course a lot of the fish in China are from fish farms. Think you’re safe? Think again. Inspectors always find tanks with botulism and other fun stuff in the water. And of course, none of thse inspectors would ever even think of taking a bribe to keep their mouth shut.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

Brian, Cynicism isn’t welcome here!

July 20, 2005 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

Me, cynical? About Chinese officials? Perish the thought.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

Communists don’t take bribes.They only care about the people. Get with the program.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:35 pm | Comment


Okay, what about stuff like MaLaTang on the streets? Korean food? Seriously, what can I eat? Bing, give me more information! I LOVE chinese food. I’m not sure I can be in China and not eat the food. I mean, brown rice is nice and all, but if that’s all I can eat for a year I’m going to Taiwan.

Anyway, biologically speaking, Richard, it’s really complex. Plants take up some things and don’t take others up, and different plants take up different things. Theres a Japanese delicacy that eats Creosote (a petrochemical used for sealing wood for construction – very toxic) like nobody’s business, but nothing else will grow in it. You wouldn’t want to eat that Gobo.

Fish in China probably have varying amounts of dioxin, lead and mercury, like everywhere else, but probably a bit more than America, Japan, Canada or France.

I guess washing all plants with a little detergent should help with the buckets of pesticides they spray on. Peel fruit. Don’t eat fish, or only very rarely. don’t have kids in China.

I might also point out that any women that are in China at the moment or have spent lots of time there should probably undergo some radical detox – Lisa – activated charcoal is damn good for acute stuff, but it takes up chemicals non-specifically, so your vitamin B12 is as likely to get absorbed as your pesticides if you take it as a supplement. Or so my chemistry knowledge would suggest.

Interestingly, they use that indigestible fat – remember Olestra? – for acute dioxin poisoning. I bet you could use it for mercury and pesticide poisoning too – anything that accumulates in fatty tissues.

Anyway, my point is that breast milk can be really lethal to kids if you’ve spent a lot of time accumulating mercury, dioxin etc. in your fatty tissues – it all gets concentrated in the breast milk and then disproportionately affects your new born (cause he/she is only like 4 kilos)

All this being said, the human body is remarkably resilient, and if you’re only there a few years (stomach cancer aside – lisa maybe that was pesticides?) you can recuperate from any damage done…

July 20, 2005 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

You know, I think this is a really important thread. Bing, can I get you to expound a bit on your suspicions/knowledge/cautions etc? I’d like to enjoy myself in 6 months when I move to Beijing

July 20, 2005 @ 4:45 pm | Comment

And Bing, why do you think this way and so few (okay, none) other Chinese people I know think this way? What changed your mind?

July 20, 2005 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

In high school I worked at KFC.One of my daily jobs was to look for and remove tumors from the chickens.My buddy worked in his college cafeteria. On the boxes of poultry it said: “Grade D but safe for human consumption” Yummers!

July 20, 2005 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

Only eat at KFC or McDonalds? I couldnt imagine anything LESS healthy!! i will eat at any reasonably clean restaurant, but i do avoid the street vendors, and smaller dirtier restaurants, just because i dont think the proprieters have much concept of good hygene. i dont eat fish because i dont like fish, but that is one thing that would most likely be easily contaminated. i have seen first hand all the dirty ponds south of beijing (and other places) that are so called fish farms, and i wouldnt eat anything that came out of there.

we all have to die of something sooner or later.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

Looks like it’s sooner rather than later. Don’t eat ,drink , think or breath in China and everything will be fine.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

Aren’t most of the products from KFC, McD’S etc…Grown/raised in China?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

There’s a lot of reports out there without much actual information – think CSR might know?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:08 pm | Comment


Can you read Chinese? From the following link, you can see a tip of the iceberg.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

As I said, Laowai, I don’t know if there’s anything to this or not. I’m really curious. A lot of food here in America is exposed to pesticides, but let’s face it, the quality controls here are pretty rigid compared to most other countries, and anytiume a certain level of dioxin or arsenic is detected, the newspapers go crazy. Fish fat is famous for offering a spledid home to mercury and dioxin and other goodies, and I have to wonder, if all the fish are swimming in filthy water, doesn’t that have to affect their safety? (And again, I really don’t know.)

The first thing people told me when I went to China was to get vaccinated against hepatitis, and to prepare for periodic food poisoning. Sound advice, considering the levels of pollution and lack of food safety standards.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

Honestly, I have no problem with bacteria compared to the problem I have with ingesting toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

Anyway, Chris – McD’s is better quality meat in China than it is in the States. And anyway, all restaurant food has way too much fat and salt, so it’s not like you’re saving your heart by going to the local home-cooked style restaurant. Although you’re probably getting fewer trans-fatty acids.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

What’s with all the China bashing? I think you are just jealous of the D Lish Urse foods in China. It has long history.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

Richard – heavy metal contamination that the fish swim around in is likely to contaminate fish. Bacteria in the water is just likely to kill the fish, or do nothing really. Phenol and benzene and stuff are likely to give the fish cancer and stay in the fat.

I can stay away from fish. I’m worried about the “stay away from all domestic food” clause that Bing put in. Does Carrefour stock international food?


July 20, 2005 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

I have no problems with fat or salt. The Mediterranean diet is rich in both, and they’re in fine shape. If the only thing to worry about when it comes to Mainland food was fat and salt there wouldn’t be much of an issue. The stuff I’ve seen in those lakes in China was much, much nastier than fat and salt.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

Speaking of food, I have a long, unrelated and rambling post on blueberries on my blog, incorporating ancient chinese wisdom, nazis and fruit. Yeah, try to do that on your own!

July 20, 2005 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

Your MaLaTang is mentioned in this report too.

It’s your expertise, name some chemical substances that taste like top chili. You might have a bit of them in your MaLaTang.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

In all seriousness, my mother’s sister is a pretty well-known virologist, with a specialty in parasites. She told me never to eat sushi anywhere, ever, but to be 100 times surer not to eat it in China (where sushi is eatern everywhere).

I listened to her and never ate sushi in China. I was stupid, however, and forgot her advice when I was in Bangkok in 2001, where a piece of sushi made me so sick I get nauseous just thinking about it eevn today.

Sushi, anyone?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:19 pm | Comment

What a banch of China bashers here bwahwahwahwah. China has two thosand years of cooking histery!

July 20, 2005 @ 5:19 pm | Comment

Right, yes, let’s focus here:

Fat, salt, bacteria: natural things we can deal with, and have to deal with.

Mercury, lead, dioxins, pesticides, benzene and other organic solvents: Things we should avoid.

Who knows what levels these are at in Chinese:

1) Fish
2) Pork
3) Beef
4) Leafy Green veges
5) root veges
6) seeds
7) oil/soy sauce/sauces
8) grains
9) fruit


July 20, 2005 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

Thanks Bing. I’m gonna spend some time reading that. Off to bed now though.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:22 pm | Comment

sulphur is popular for blanching or rendering vegetable

July 20, 2005 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

You put word in my oral? Screw your ancestor worship!Dioxin is gift from God.It’s good for your heeeeelth.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

TA, love it or leave it laowai, run out of my Chiiina, becus you guys are bad arse boys dont know shite about coking, those who have teeny tiny chinky eyes know the secret of 2000 years of culinary.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

You got coking? How much for a gram?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

Sulphur is in many foods like onions and cabbage. Too much, of course, will make you sick, and will also make you smell very bad.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

Speak of the devil. The TV dinner inventor just croaked.He lived to the ripe old age of 83. He didn’t eat well but he lived a long time.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

Yes maser me just a horny little chinaman, me know nutin about coking, forgive me maser.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

This is a bit of a trashing, but It’s pretty humorous too.

And thus they make their belly their god
John Mandeville, Travels p. 187

The aims of meals in China are to transfer food onto the table and floor, and to get other peopleโ€™s spit into your mouth. These purposes are facilitated by eating with sticks, and by swirling your sticks round in the communal dishes. Itโ€™s also polite to talk with your mouth full, so that everyone can see exactly what youโ€™re eating. And the Chinese love dogs and cats; normally one between two is enough. Amuse your friends by showing how far you can spit the bones! Chinese restaurants are easy to locate: just look out for what appears to be a pet shop.
Most Chinese people like the idea of trying Western food, but in practice they are invariably disappointed that it does not taste like Chinese food. Ideally, Chinese food should not taste of food at all, but instead of chilli paste, salt, vinegar and of course MSG.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:38 pm | Comment

If your government spends some effort on bashing Chinese food standard and the failure of Chinese government in providing its people the basis guarantee of food saftey, I assure you that must be a very embarassing exposure for CCP and few Chinese will feel offended. Compared to protecting wheelers, this will help or even save much more Chinese

July 20, 2005 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

Jesus Christ. I’m not going to eat anything except McDonalds until I leave China.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

Super Size Me

July 20, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

Oh God, Gordon, that is truly gross. Now we’re going to have multipersonality Sybil-types flooding the commments of the Chinese blogosphere with accusations this blog is breeding ground of racism and hatred.

For the record, I love Chinese food. At least I did until I started this thread.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Yeah,Super Size me was a good documentary.Buy it! Also check out the book Fast Food Nation.It’s real scary. Ivan, You sprechen der Chinee?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

Ancient Chinese Wise Man, you are going to get me in serious trouble with the Internet loonies, who seek me out like flypaper. Please, don’t say derogatory things about Chinese people, even in jest. Complain, but please don’t give certain fucktards an excuse to raise their self-righteous voices against my site. Thanks.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:48 pm | Comment


There is an element of truth in your citation.

Somehow changes have taken place in the way people eat around a table.

One thing I can’t agree is Chinese food is much much better than most of Western food, except dessert.

You could encounter Chinese dishes made up of chilli paste, salt, vinegar and of course MSG, if you sit in a restarant spending 50 pence on a supper.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

TV dinners – fat and salt, not much else. Yum.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

Many Chinese cooks pick their noses without washing their hands afterwards.So we are eating quite a bit of snot also.Snot is like 80% dead skin cells. The remainder is just pollution.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

Richard said:

A lot of food here in America is exposed to pesticides, but let’s face it, the quality controls here are pretty rigid compared to most other countries, and anytiume a certain level of dioxin or arsenic is detected, the newspapers go crazy.

Bingo! Quality controls. It doesn’t exist in this country. (something I just ranted about).

Also, as you pointed out, if such contamination is discovered, the media flies into a frenzy and every government agency from the FDA down to the Dept. of Natural Resources becomes involved.

You wouldn’t even hear of it in China. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Well, one of my best mentors taught me that the truth is mostly the opposite of what Marx said. Marx (and all of his followers, INCLUDING most Americans now, despite what they pretend to believe) – Marx and all of his followers believe that all mental conditions are the “superstructure” of material conditions.
But the opposite is true. Material conditions (at least for Humans, who have free will, who alter their material environment in accord with their ideas) are the superstructure of mental conditions.
And so, the pollution in China is MOSTLY the superstructure of the pollution of Chinese minds.
China is polluted because Chinese minds are polluted with Communist shit.
China is polluted because Chinese minds are polluted with cynicism and materialism, the cynicism and materialism (and materialist superstitions) of Marx and Lenin, mixed further with the destructive and cynical and nihilistic lunatic ideas of the mind of Mao.
China’s pollution is the superstructure of the pollution of Chinese minds by Marx and Lenin and Mao.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:53 pm | Comment


“You wouldn’t even hear of it in China. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

As I mentioned, if you read Chinese, check the mainstream news portal you would find lots of exposed food contamination, espcially in recent years.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Wow,I just thought that the food was dangerous to eat.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:55 pm | Comment

Ivan, Are you slipping into the realm of the unwell?

July 20, 2005 @ 5:56 pm | Comment


I was just posting that in humor, but in fact it’s also something that really bothers me the longer I stay here because it points to a more serious issue – Hepatitis.

Hepatitis spreads like wildfire here in China and aside from the lack of sanitation here, it has a lot to do with the traditional style of eating.

One of my American friends here in Chengdu has invited me out to dinner with groups of people on several occasions, but I have politely declined because I don’t like eating out in large numbers with people I don’t know simply because of the whole communal thing.

If you have a table of 12 people and one of them unknowingly has hepatitis…..bam!

It really freaks me out, especially since I didn’t update my hepatitis vaccinations before I left the States. I was under the impression that I was still covered from my military inoculations.

The communal dish concept is a hell of a lot cheaper when you’re eating out with a lot of people, but it poses some serious health issues.

July 20, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

Aiya Richard,
me got it, me will disapear for now. ciao

July 20, 2005 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

As I mentioned, if you read Chinese, check the mainstream news portal you would find lots of exposed food contamination, espcially in recent years.

Thanks Bing, I stand somewhat corrected.

I’ll give the media credit, they are getting more and more daring about reporting the ills of society here in China and I think that’s great.

Having a free media is one of the keys to improving society, in my opinion.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

American Man,
I was BORN into the world of the unwell, ie Humanity.
And yes I am a madman. ๐Ÿ™‚
But I still say, material conditions are the superstructure of mental conditions. And so, whenever we see any environment polluted by humans, we must remember that it came from polluted minds.
All of the pollution on this Earth, has come from polluted human minds.
There was never any pollution on the Earth, until polluted human minds CHOSE to create the pollution….

July 20, 2005 @ 6:04 pm | Comment


The high infectious rate of Hepatitis, or Hepatitis B has been a very hot topic in the last two or three years. One theory is that it is due to the vaccination campaign of the goverment in 70s and 80s. At the time, the grass root paramedics (actually they had little training at all) were responsible and they simply didn’t have the concept of proper sterilization.

One needle and one syringe were used for the whole villege. Can you imagine what would happen?

July 20, 2005 @ 6:07 pm | Comment

Bing makes another point.

I’ve been sending medicine and health supplements to my wife and her family for quite awhile and now my mother does it for me in my absence.

The thing I found interesting when I first starting shipping Q-10 supplements to my mother-in-law was that it was so difficult to find at the health food store where I have a membership. When I inquired about it, the clerk told me that a Chinese family comes in every month and buys bulk amounts of everything and sends it back home to their family.

Now I get it.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Ivan,Will you marry me?We could go to Canada.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Gordon, do you believe Q-10 is worth the huge price?

And AM, you can also go to Holland, Belgium or Spain. Nicer than Canada, more to do.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

Canadians are SO nice.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Once I found a short and curly in my soy milk.I almost puked.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:20 pm | Comment

A short and curly or a mutilated finger, which one would you prefer?

July 20, 2005 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

American man, will you marry me, but I have to be the husband. Me will love you long long time mmmmhhhh ahhh soldier boy.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:26 pm | Comment

Oh god, Bing.

That’s a horror movie in the making.

When I first moved to China I had to go through the standard medical checkup and it was a horrifying experience.

Thankfully I had the foresight to bring my own syringes and of course the were not happy about that.

I stood in a line full of Chinese and foreigners who were waiting to have blood drawn and I was watching the phlebotomist with great interest. He kept a new hypodermic laying on the counter so that everyone could see it, but when it came time to take their blood he pulled one out from below the counter. Highly suspicious.

When my turn came, I noticed that the guy wasn’t even wearing and laytex gloves. He told me to lay my arm on the table and that’s when I pulled out my own package of syringes. He insisted that I allow him to use theirs, but I adamantly refused and finally had to raise my voice and become mildly belligerent by pointing out his actions that I had been observing over the past few minutes and the fact that he wasn’t wearing any latex gloves or even sterilizing his hands between patients. Everybody stopped talking and focused their attention on him and he finally agreed to my demands.

Once he had drawn the blood however, he couldn’t figure out how to remove the blood sample from the syringe (it was a safety syringe). He began bending the needle back and forth trying to break the end of the needle off, which could have sent potentially contaminated blood spraying across the waiting crowd and then before he finally allowed me to simply twist the needle off, he had begun pushing it up against the wall.

People were standing there with their jaws gaping open. It was unbelievable and of course a few hours later I had a bruise on my arm the size of Texas. (it took him 5 times to actually get the needle into my vein)

Hell, even an orderly in the US knows how to take blood.

So, if you’re coming to live in China, don’t forget to bring your own package of syringes.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

Bing, me likee chocolate finger dip in peanut butter, yummy.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:29 pm | Comment

Bing ,if the finger nail is clean they are delicious.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

Richard, I have personally never taken Q-10, but my mother-in-law has heart trouble and the guy at the local health food store highly recommended it. So, I bought some and sent it to her. A couple of months later my wife told me that her mother felt better than she had in years.

She now climbs the stairs and goes dancing every evening without even the slightest feeling of exhaustion.

I don’t know…it seems to be working for her, so I guess it’s worth it. (and yes, it is quite pricey)

July 20, 2005 @ 6:31 pm | Comment

In what country can you marry yourself?

July 20, 2005 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

American Man,
I WOULD marry you, except for two complications:
1. I prefer women, and
2. I really don’t like Canadians.
Sorry, I cannot elope with you to Canada, I just dislike Canadians too much.
But if you ever get a sex change, AND if you ever excoriate Canadians as much as I do, then we can talk…

July 20, 2005 @ 6:34 pm | Comment


I sincerely thank you and believe a lot more Chinese will do, If you get a chance to expose things like this to western media.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

Ancient Chinese Wise Man,

I believe you can marry yourself in the States of Kentucky, Tennessee and W. Virginia.

Say, ever seen Deliverance?

July 20, 2005 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

PS, to American Man, who wants to elope with me to Canada:
I hate Terence and Philip, those wankers on South Park, who personfiy Canada to me.
I cannot marry you in Canada unless:
1. You get a sex change (assuming you’re male)
2. You get plastic surgery to look just like Juliet Binoche
3. You promise to sing anti-Canadian songs with me forever, like:
“We fired our guns
and the British (Canadians)
kept a comin,
there wasn’t as many
as there was a while ago,
we fired once more and
they began a runnin,
down the Mississippi
through the Gulf of Mexico….”
If you can meet all of those demands AND look just like Juliet Binoche, then yes I will marry you….

July 20, 2005 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

do you likee tranny, chick with dick? they’re HOT!!!! HA

July 20, 2005 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

my hands have been having sex with my penis, can my hands marry my penis. Can they marry in church in Kentucky?

July 20, 2005 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Gordon’s right,Arkansas! I was there for the annual Ricketts Telethon. A good time was had by all. BTW, I stole that Ricketts thing from Bill Hicks. I have no original ideas.

July 20, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

Ancient Chinese Wise Man:
I think, you American. You try to trick me on hegemony! You American, you always hegemony!
China rising power no more take your trick!
You make fun of China woman want many sex, you big shit, China woman never chick with dick! You America, you only chick with dick because you always hegemony!
You no hot. China food too hot for you. You hegemony cause you no hot enough.
(now going to bed….nice to chat with you, American Man my wonderfully weird friend…. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 20, 2005 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

It’s time for Brakefirst!

July 20, 2005 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

Believe it or not, Ancient Chinese Wise Man and American Man are not the same person. Well, maybe, but he’d have to have the ability to post simultaneously under two different names with two different IP addresses. Why bother?

July 20, 2005 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

Oh no two illiterate assholes.Great.Just what the world needs more of.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

Gordon you have mail

July 20, 2005 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

Dag nabbit! I’m not having much luck with links today. The thread I meant to post to over at Middle Kingdom stories was this one:

Totally Inappropriate??

My apologies Richard. Please delete the other post above.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

I haven’t received anything yet GBH.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

Call me

July 20, 2005 @ 7:46 pm | Comment

Can someone answer me this: if China’s water is the world’s most polluted and the food there is so toxic, how come the average life expectancy in China is almost the same as that in the US?!

July 20, 2005 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

I second that emotion!

July 20, 2005 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

Oh no, why you bashing China?
China does have a food inspection system. An inspection system “with Chinese characteristics.”
Downstairs from my old apartment in Nanjing, there was a road with some charming name like “Road No. 7.” It was filled with some of the most unhygienic restaurants I have ever seen in my life, the kinds of places I would only go to if I was really really drunk. Anyway, one day they were all closed. The next day I talked to a boss of one of the restaurants, she said that they had received a warning that there would be hygiene inspection that day. So everyone closed, and the boss of one restaurant invited the inspectors out for a big dinner in a nice, clean restaurant. Every time there was an inspection, a different boss would have to take them out to dinner, they rotate.
Now that story really made me hopeful for the future of this country!

July 20, 2005 @ 7:50 pm | Comment

renxu said:

I would just like to point out that there is a difference in life expectancy and actually living that long.

The life expectancy for an American male is somewhere around 74 years old. Does that mean that all American males live until they are 74 years old and then drop like flies?


Some die before 75 and some live much longer.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

US life expectancy as of 2002: 77.2

China: 71.8

That is a significant difference.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

Good point renxu. I’m vaccinated, and I ate street vendor food, ate out almost every night, and I consumed at least a whole donkey’s worth of donkey burgers. I did avoid fish after awhile, because of what I heard about the rivers and because I hate the bones in river fish. I never got food poisoning once. I did get bottled water delivered to my apartment, but I can’t be sure it was much cleaner than the boiled tap water. I definitely think the pollution was getting to me on some days, but it was the air pollution. Westerners just have an irrational fear of pollution because we want to live forever.
Not to say I didn’t ingest some bad stuff in China. I’m just not going to worry about it.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

aaaahhhhhhhh!! What the hell is going on. I can’t seem to post anything right today.

Renxu said:

Can someone answer me this: if China’s water is the world’s most polluted and the food there is so toxic, how come the average life expectancy in China is almost the same as that in the US?!

I would just like to point out that there is a difference in life expectancy and actually living that long.

The life expectancy for an American male is somewhere around 74 years old. Does that mean that all American males live until they are 74 years old and then drop like flies?


Some die before 75 and some live much longer.

July 20, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

And what is your definition of living?

July 20, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

I could be wrong, but I think the word speaks for itself.

You know, opposite of deceased.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

Well if you define LIFE as having a heartbeat. I think it’s much more. Just ask Terri Schiavo. Oh sorry. By the way. Whats the worst part of eating vegetables? Removing the respirator!. Da dun dun!

July 20, 2005 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

>US life expectancy as of 2002: 77.2
>China: 71.8
>That is a significant difference.


If you believe that is really a big difference, then I think it is a bit of shame for people living in this country (considering what this country has and China has no).

July 20, 2005 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

it must be the wonderfully effective Chinese medicine.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment

Yeah, Americans should be living to 120.Whats up wit dat?

July 20, 2005 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

Richard probably thought that this was a fairly innocuous subject.Yet again, offending our Chinese brothers and sisters.You could do a thread about salt- water taffy.You would still be in trouble.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

boycott chinese food! eat KFC and drink french wine! work hard to achieve a life expectancy of 72 in year 2015!

BTW, it’s reported that china-made coffins are becoming popular in the US market recently.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

They better make em’ big!

July 20, 2005 @ 8:47 pm | Comment

Two words on the China food front: Don’t and panic. Seems like plenty of old people and healthy children here in Beijing.

I’ve spent the past decade eating crud scraped from the walls of every dingy, roadside stall and sidewalk cookstand in Southeast and, now, north Asia. Pig’s blood soup, mekong river snails, duck fetus (possibly the nastiest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life) and god knows what. I’ve had exactly two bouts of food poisining. One came from a Wall’s ice cream bar given to me at the Unilever ice cream factory in Singapore. The other came from a Westin breakfast buffet in Surabaya, Indonesia. (Salad bars and buffets are likely worse than any communal Chinese meal.)

Yes, the Chinese get stomach cancer. So do the Japanese. It seems to be related to a diet high in preserved and pickled foods. Yes, there are probably nasties in the river fish and pesticides in the plants and hormones in the meat. So a little common sense is good. Don’t eat out all the time. Wash your vegetables with detergent. Less meat, more fruit and veg, etc.

But anyone who is complaining about Chinese food quality while drinking Cokes or macking Doritos from the bag has lost the plot. Also, if you think you’re in food paradise in the US, pick up a copy of Fast Food Nation or, if you have the patience for it, Food Politics.

All that lovely farmed salmon from the pristine fjords of Norway and New Zealand? Crammed with antibiotics because pen-reared salmon crawl with parasites and infections and dyed with canthaxanthin to produce that lovely, orange flesh (farmed salmon have naturally grey meat).

The Chinese love to eat, and they have appropriately wonderful food. Try to enjoy it. Yes, China’s got real problems with food sanitation and dud food products, but if food paranoia is what’s keeping you from coming here, then you haven’t seen the air. That worries me much more because. I can always use common sense with food. I have no control over the air.

Also, per Gordon’s syringe story, that’s way more alarming than any food issue. The Chinese government is still essentially covering up the ramifications of the use of contaminated needles for blood sales in Hebei, which gave thousands of people AIDS. Foreigners are not allowed to affected villages, nominally for safety reasons. In Beijing, I watched the needles they used on me come out of sterile envelopes. But I was able to go the “foreigners” floor of the travel and immigration clinic. Sounds like the Horse had no such option.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

Renxu, I’m simply saying that in terms of numbers, it’s quite a difference. Now, the topic of why Americans live longer is another conversation. But you said the life expectancy is the same. It is not.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Things have apparently gotten better Will, at least in Beijing. I had to go through the same experience in 2002 as Gordon and it was just like a Western clinic, very clean and latex gloves etc. Of course, in Chengdu or elsewhere it might be very different.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

Funny, I share needles ALL the time. No problemo! You guys are so paranoid. I live near the “Golden Triangle” When in Rome…….

July 20, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Good morning everyone. Some of the discussions of food and water quality in China are really interesting. I got on the phone with a friend of mine who just returned from Beijing in order to verify some of the statements and concerns raised by some of you. My friend confirms that people in Beijing, particularly the older generation, are worried about water and food pollution. Nowadays very few people will use tap water for drinking and cooking at home. They are also very suspicious of some cheap wheat flour that is floating around in the shops lately. As a result of that, many people no longer buy cakes, noodle or dumpling etc from shops anymore because they are not too sure of the quality of the flour that the shops are using.
However, my friend doesnโ€™t agree with some of you about the intention of the farmers who staged the riot against water population from factories. His understanding is that farmers in China usually do not โ€œcause troublesโ€ for no reasons. Because they know damn well that no one will actually listen to them. So something must have gone seriously wrong for farmers to come out and vent their anger.
Bingโ€™s comment about the trend of buying imported produce: my friend confirms that it is the case in Beijing, particularly among the rising middle class population. However, the major of people there will not be able to afford some of imported food.

July 20, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Fat Cat, I agree with your friends. The farmers didn’t riot just to earn themselves a few yuan. There are easier ways to do that with far less risk. They put their lives at stake. They are fighting for their lives, or at least that is how they see it. I have huge sympathy for them.

July 20, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

THE two things you don’t fuck with. A Chinese persons health and money.You do and you’re asking for trouble.

July 20, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

AM, out of curiosity, what can you fuck with?

July 20, 2005 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

I will concede the water. I don’t tend to drink the tap water (bottled water being so cheap here), although I do cook with it. And I will drink it in a pinch. As for avoiding dumplings – the day I do that, I have nothing left to live for anyway, so what’s the point? Some things ya gotta take a chance on.

July 20, 2005 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Um………. ur………..shit………… like me at my S.A.T.’s. Oh, I quit.

July 20, 2005 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Like all those cheap hookers. No condom necessary.EVERYDAY, My friend.Wanna share a bowl o noodle Will?

July 20, 2005 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

Will, I’m sorry but you’ve totally missed the point. It’s not about getting food poisoning. It’s about Mercury, lead, dioxins and pesticides. Screw bacteria and hepatitis etc – I can live with that (and I already got my vaccination vs. Hep A and B). I’m worried that the food I eat will be contributing to a less than enjoyable period when I’m 50 to 77. Dioxins cause cancer, lead and mercury screw with your nervous system. Some pesticides cause cancer too.

Anyway – how costly is food in asda and tesco? does carrefour carry overseas produce?

July 21, 2005 @ 2:51 am | Comment

I think slightly expensive than UK for imported produce.

Don’t be scared.

July 21, 2005 @ 2:58 am | Comment

slightly more

July 21, 2005 @ 3:09 am | Comment

Carrefour Guangzhou has one isle with imported food although it’s mostly tinned and packaged stuff obviously.

A small amount of the fruit is imported. The bread/pastries are made on the premises.

A lot of the dairy stuff, cheese, butter etc is imported.

A small amount of Aus/US beef and mince is imported.

Everything else, as far as I know, is from China. Fresh and processed meat, veg, fruit, sauces, tins, preserves etc.

July 21, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment

I sometimes dream of walking round the Asda Superstore in Wembley Park, London, filling my trolley.

July 21, 2005 @ 3:52 am | Comment

Just imagining a life without M&M, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tescos would absolutely sadden me.

July 21, 2005 @ 4:20 am | Comment

Some great information in this thread, thanks.

I’m with those who take a practical approach. Yeah, the food’s more dangerous in China, but on the other hand, it’s much less likely I will die in a drive-by shooting, an armed robbery, or be killed in a car (I usually travel by public transportation).

I do avoid all fish and most sea/river food. It’s not just the contaminants — for me, chopsticks and fine bones are not a good combination.

When I cook at home, I scrub those (unpeelable) veggies in a a tub of warm soapy water, just like doing the dishes. Tedious, but absolutely required.

My problem is mushrooms. Since they are soft and absorbant, you can’t scrub them. I usually just swirl them around in soapy water for a moment, then thoroughly rinse them off? Any suggestions?

July 22, 2005 @ 5:22 am | Comment

Sorry, that was me posting about the mushrooms.

July 22, 2005 @ 5:24 am | Comment

I just finished conducting a rural research project on water management in China and I can say after looking at a myriad of problems that China is in one hell of hole dug by the Communist Party. The problem is that other countries allow for specific interests to negotiate over the delegation and quality issues surrounding water management. The Party is simply not in a position to listen to differing interests and it wouldn’t care if it did anyhow. Additionally they aren’t trained enough for the task anyhow.

July 23, 2005 @ 2:42 am | Comment

actually i wanted to ask what restaurants you recommended in beijing….

July 24, 2005 @ 7:14 am | Comment

Look at you oh wise ones…may i ask… if you hate China that much, what in the world are you doing there???

And Food from overseas A.K.A. —> K.F.C. and all that “fast food” are just giving high cholesterol levels in each one of us.

Come on, business are giving you people lots of money, so face it!!! if your company send you there, is ’cause they have money to pay you guys.

You can say China is the hell, but at least they are paying your services. If you don’t like to be there just look for another “client” business are soooo easy.

June 12, 2006 @ 4:32 am | Comment

It’s a thread about food contamination, idiot, not hatred of China. You must have one huge inferiority complex.

June 12, 2006 @ 6:52 am | Comment

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