China has always had two separate systems of food production and consumption. One for the elite ruling class and one for the common people. Recently, they banned a story on an organic farm that was producing food exclusively for high-ranking officials, and in fact banned all future reporting on the subject.
The common people, meanwhile, must drink questionably melamine-laced milk. In August people died from vinegar that was laced with antifreeze. If we think North American food producers cut corners to increase bottom lines, Chinese food producers are much, much worse and less ethical, if that is even possible. Chinese people mistrust food labeled “organic” at their local grocery stores, as labels are easy to fake in this country where the bottom line is king rather than the people. Perversely, this is almost the ideological opposite of socialism and communism.
Many have fought back by forming multi-family cooperatives that pitch in to collective farms and dairies. This way, their families get “pure” food and milk without having to worry about their babies dying from melamine poisoning or even eating innocuous foods like vinegar. But how long is it until the mother state seizes those co-operatives for their own? It may be that the next revolution in China is about food rather than politics, which are increasingly becoming entwined.