April 18, 2006

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It's Not Easy Eating Greens

Not in Hong Kong anyway. A recent Greenpeace study on vegetables available at leading supermarket chains Wellcome and Park N' Shop demonstrated that the veggies they were selling to hapless consumers had pesticide levels well in excess of recommended limits, and used banned substances such as DDT.

The unspoken, shocking thing about this, of course, is that most consumers go to those supermarkets because they think that the beans and tomatoes there are somehow 'cleaner' and less 'local' that the produce on hand at the wet markets. But a Wellcome choi sum offering, for instance, had 240 times the EU limit on pesticides, and other fresh veggies offered by both stores were tainted by up to 5 different pesticides that act like a 'cocktail effect' that can multiply their effects by up to 100 times. All this produce is naturally coming from China.

Aside from prompting questions of why people on the mainland aren't just dropping dead (and in the countryside, many are), is there really any way local consumers can stop poisoning themselves? In the short-term, aside from the option of paying megabucks for a Japanese radish or a Dutch tomato, there really aren't any foolproof methods. One hopes though that China will eventually impose some sort of standards for their agricultural exports, and failing that, that Hong Kong perhaps needs to set one up for imports to set its citizens' minds at ease.

posted by HK Dave on 04.18.06 at 05:08 PM in the China food/environment/health category.


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I'm not sure that the "Japanese radish" is a solution to the problem. Last time I saw statistics on this, Japanese farmers used eight times the dioxin-based pesticides, etc., that American farmers did....

posted by: Jonathan Dresner on 04.19.06 at 03:29 PM [permalink]

Thanks Jonathan! I didn't realize. I had always assumed that the astronomical price tags for Japanese produce at least meant higher standards...

posted by: HK Dave on 04.19.06 at 03:59 PM [permalink]

And...you believe everything Greenpeace tells you?

posted by: GZ Expat on 04.20.06 at 09:49 AM [permalink]

No, far from everything. But this time sadly, it appears that they are correct, it's backed up by tests done by the companies themselves.

posted by: HK Dave on 04.20.06 at 10:40 AM [permalink]

Um, hate to point out the obvious:

- while washing does not eliminate all pesticides, it does reduce the level of their presence.

- peeling also reduces exposure to pestcides that bind to surface.

posted by: bobby fletcher on 04.26.06 at 02:51 AM [permalink]

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