China has one of the biggest populations in the world and over the past few years there has been a lot of business growth in the country. People live busy lives, trying to keep up with the pace of business growth as well as tourists. As a result, once traditional Chinese foods are soon becoming a thing of the past. In Honk Kong, although residents and tourists love food and talk about it all the time, older people point out that a lot of traditional dishes are just not made any more . They say that this is because of the difficulties vendors face when getting fresh and unique ingredients needed for making these dishes. Such food also usually takes longer to make than the fast food that people are consuming today. But this is leading to not only poor health for the people who eat unhealthy fast food, but also in the loss of a very important part of any culture – traditional food.
The Slow Food Hong Kong branch is aimed at bringing back interest in authentic traditional food, and making it out of fresh ingredients that are bought locally. Their aim is to have this mentality of ‘ respecting’ food adopted by street food makers in Dai Pai Ding to big five star hotels, no matter which country’s food is being served. The opening of Slow food Hong Kong in 2009 was the first step towards bringing the movement to mainland China. The movement took a ‘ giant leap’ when it was inaugurated in Beijing in September 2010. The first event was held at a small fruit production village named Mutianyu, which is located about 2km away from Beijing. While almost 400 city people attended the event, not many were excited about the Slow Food movement. However, it is believed that this is the first, and maybe the biggest challenge for the success of the movement .
In December 2011, the Slow Food movement reached Shanghai, thought to be the ‘ biggest, fastest city in China’. Naturally, getting people to adopt the Slow Food movement will be a challenge here too as hotel and eatery owners would like to serve food quickly and at low prices to keep their clients coming back. Organic food sold at city outlets is generally more expensive than commercially produced fruits and vegetables which are also more widely available. Plus, slow food is not just about using food that is fresh but it is also about growing fruits and vegetables in an organic fashion. Farmers are used to using chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds that make sure that they will produce a lot of food and fast too. It is important for their profitability. Which is why even farmers will be difficult to convince to grow crops and foods in organic manner .
Another major challenge was that the Chinese people saw Slow Food as a ‘ foreign’ movement, which is why the movement organizers expected that there would be some resistence towards its adoption. By holding various events where farmers, hotel owners as well as diners would be invited, the organizers hope to show that this movement is good for China, its people and its culture. Once the people accept this, it will be a little easier for the movement to spread across the mainland. The next challenge is the size of the country. China is a very big nation and its farmers are spread across the land. Most farmers own small lands that produce just enough to support their families. Getting these farmers to form a network so that food can be produced organically and sold effectively near to cities where the movement is taking place with be a difficult task.
However, once these challenges are overcome, the Slow Food movement will be able to convince farmers to grow organic food, hoteliers to use fresh and organic food, and the people to prefer to eat more of Slow Food when compared to Fast Food. China is a country that values it culture and traditions, which is why the Slow Food movement’s ‘ Respect’ for food mentality is liked by many people there. People are seeing it as an opportunity to go back to their roots and preserve their culinary heritage . With proper effort and support from the government, it is expected that the Slow Food movement in China will pick up well and be a major success. This will bring several advantages to the people in terms of better health, the preservation of culture and heritage as well as boost the country’s economy by giving its farmers the opportunity to produce and sell more food in a healthy manner.
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MacDonald, Lynette. ” The slow food moveent takes on Shanghai.” 16 January 2012. SHFamily. 20 February 2013
Patton, Dominique. ” Slow Food Reaches Beijing.” 16 September 2010. The School House at Mutianyu. 20 February 2013
Slow Food Hong Kong. All About Slow Food Hong Kong. 2009. 20 February 2013
Smith, Mary K. ” Slow Food movement aims to help both diners, farmers.” 21 May 2012. The China Post. 20 February 2013.