Over the past three decades in China, meat consumption per capita has quadrupled. This rapid change in diets has paralleled the massive migration from the countryside to the cities. City dwellers eat twice as much meat on average as those back in the villages.
This has put a strain on the country’s land and water resources. Agricultural runoff, mostly manure from large-scale farms, is causing water pollution within the country. Because of water shortages, China imports 70 percent of its soybeans and increasing amounts of its corn from the United States, Brazil, and Argentina to feed its cows and pigs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set up an office in Beijing to help train hundreds of Chinese companies, government inspectors and officials in food safety.
But some say the Chinese government is relying too heavily on inspections and needs to focus more on prevention.
Chinese fed up with waiting for government action have started to find other ways to access safer food – like buying imported, processed, or organic food.
With the increasing calls for more safe, affordable and environmentally friendly food, China’s leaders will need to show creativity and balance to meet those needs.
This video was produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Reporter: Mary Kay Magistad
Producer: Cassandra Herrman
Camera: Serene Fang
Editor: Stephanie Mechura
Field Translation: Yufan Zhang
Additional Translation: Ah Ping
Series producer: Cassandra Herrman
Executive producer: Sharon Tiller