Would you eat produce farmed in China?

I'm about to throw out a pack of snow peas as I just notice the label says "product of China" in very fine print. I hate being wasteful, but it just doesn't sit right with me. Where do you draw the line? Is a Chinese snow pea more scary than a Mexican zucchini? Do you think organic means the same thing in China as it does in the west?



Amrita March 22, 2012
I think the Chinese life-expectancy has risen in the last two decades. It currently averages at 73 years. The point here is that its not about American food or Chinese food or Japanese food or Russian food. People need to eat food that's locally produced.
And unless anyone of us has had first-hand experience of eating the food of a particular country that has been produced in that country itself, we shouldn't be pointing fingers at anyone.
Every country has its share of organic produce and produce that has been treated with pesticides. Also, every country has its share of diseases. The best thing to do if you're uncomfortable with eating those peas is to go and ask your supermarket why they think its safe to sell them.
lloreen March 21, 2012
I would be wary. Also, I really object to shipping food so far. Recently I picked up some tomatoes at trader Joel's only to notice that they were a product of Holland. Are you kidding me? A Northern European country is shipping tomatoes to southern California in mid-winter?? there is something seriously wrong with this picture.
softpunk March 21, 2012
That is crazy. Equally crazy, these snow peas were shipped from China to Ontario for packaging, and then back west to British Columbia.
pierino March 21, 2012
And your supermarket peppers are probably coming from the Netherlands as well. But it's a global market we're shipping soy, beef and pork bellies overseas ourselves---and we don't have a lock on food safety. If you were English or Dutch would you want to buy beef raised on a feed lot in Kettleman City or a Zacky chicken from Alabama?
vickyness March 20, 2012

Considering the rich Chinese are buying imported food and imported chopstick and refuse to eat their own food; I refuse to buy anything that's imported from there to eat or use in my kitchen. We actually carry around chopsticks so we're not using the disposable ones since they're soaked in tons of chemicals. When my Chinese friends are avoiding stuff from there; there's no way I'm eating it!

SKK March 20, 2012
Let us not forget U.S. food issues. Not so sure we can point fingers. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

Peanuts, lettuce, pistachios, spinach, hamburgers, peppers, tomatoes, melons and pepper-coated sausages are among the foods that have sickened and killed Americans in just the last few years. Children are most at risk, with half of food-borne illnesses striking children under 15 years of age.
pierino March 21, 2012
And don't forget those "triple washed" and bagged salad greens and lettuces, bagged for convenience. There have been numerous outbreaks of e-coli poisoning associated with those. And then you get into the realm of listeria which is potentially far more deadly; think melons from Colorado.
hardlikearmour March 20, 2012
Nope! I won't even feed my pets food produced in China. There are too many horror stories of tainted food, toys, etc...
SeaJambon March 20, 2012
With the food scares (tainted baby formula; poisoned pet food; shellfish raised in ponds that are little more than toxic dumps), it has been interesting to watch how the Chinese people who can afford to buy imported food do so (there have been a number of NYTimes articles on this, as well as WSJ as investors see this as a market opportunity). Yes, a certain (perhaps large) portion of this is "status" driven, but some is also safety driven. I agree that whether in the US or China, it is always wonderful to be able to buy direct from the producer (which is why Farmers' Markets are AWESOME!) but when I'm buying in the grocery store, I do my best to avoid "Made in China" foods (and even cookware -- there have been issues with lead in cookware, especially the porcelain types). I'm grateful for the labeling laws that we have but also think we need more. I want to know where ALL my meat and produce comes from (country of origin) as well as ingredients in processed food; I also want to know if my food (regardless of country of origin) is genetically engineered or not.
Amrita March 20, 2012
Yes. Unfortunately.

Mostly because all the Chinese produce I've ever seen or bought from China while staying in China was fresh and organic and I'm still happily alive. Considering the fact the Chinese population is almost 4 times that of USA, 1.5 times that of India and 21 times that of UK, and they're all still very much living and breathing on the food they grow and cook themselves, I see no reason not to eat Chinese produce. I would prefer a bowl of rice and red-cooked pork over supermarket-bought hamburgers any day.
On the other hand, it is cause for alarm if we start buying Chinese-origin produce while living more than a 1000 miles away. If it is a question of ethical eating and sustainability, then yes, I agree that those Chinese peas should go straight back to the shop they came from.
softpunk March 20, 2012
But do the hormone disrupters, carcinogens, etc. in pesticides used without restriction in agricultural practice contribute to the lower life expectancy? Just because you can reproduce does not mean you will lead a long and healthy life.
softpunk March 19, 2012
I am still shocked by that story about Whole Foods' "organic" frozen vegetables being from China. This is why I prefer farmers markets... I just have a hard time believing that organic in developing nations (mostly China) is the same as organic in Europe and North America.
ubs2007 March 19, 2012
Absolutely not! China does not have any regulations for food or health. I'm very surprised that Chinese food products are allowed in the US. What happened to the FDA?
pierino March 21, 2012
What happened to the FDA is that they had overlapping and conflicting responsibilities. Now USDA handles most of it.
creamtea March 19, 2012
No, I've seen frozen edamame from China. I usually try to avoid Chinese produce & products. I don't trust their "safety" record.

Voted the Best Reply!

mainecook61 March 19, 2012
No, because of the difficulty of monitoring pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide use, particularly on industrial items (like apple juice) that may contain produce from many different sources. Local produce from China that is meant to be eaten without industrial processing is an entirely different thing.
Mr_Vittles March 19, 2012
I lived in China for awhile a few months back, let me say this, at least where I lived, it some of the best produce I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Maybe it was because I bought everything from a little vendor and had face-to-face communication (or lack thereof), but everything from lettuce to apples, to onions, to cabbage, to squash (to even unrefrigerated meats) tasted great. The tomatoes were loads better than our "tomatoes" here in the States. Red, firm, sweet. Maybe the imported stuff is the same, but when I lived there, and I mean really lived, I ate everything, and NEVER got sick or felt ill. [Take this as one man's experience, or not]
softpunk March 19, 2012
My concern is with pesticides and other chemical residues, not so much food poisoning.
ChefOno March 19, 2012
No, not with their safety record.

What I find frustrating is how difficult it is to find the country of origin sometimes. A good example is apple juice where the paper label may have a U.S. company's name and address but virtually hidden, printed directly on the bottle in a manner the light has to strike it in a particular manner to read is "Product of China". No sale.

If the peas aren't out of date, I'd return them to the store, have a talk with the manager and ask for a refund.

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