While the challenging problem of feeding one fifth of the world’s population with only seven percent of the world’s arable land remains a priority in Chinese agricultural policy, extensive environmental degradation and innumerous food scandals have shifted the primary concern of food security to issues of food safety. Anxiety about the safety of Chinese agricultural products stemming from factory polluted soils and toxic water have led to demands by farmers and consumers for a concerted governmental effort towards a cleaner, more sustainable system of agriculture. One focus of the class will be on the challenges and successes of such a turn to a more ecologically friendly agricultural production.
Another focus is the rapid changes in food preferences that are displacing more traditional diets and redirect agricultural production, especially towards production of meat, and how these changes affect traditional regional food cultures.
A comparative look at the same issues in Taiwan provides an informative contrast of how these urgent environmental concerns are addressed in the People’s Republic and in Taiwan.