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Food Safety Scandals Fuel Urban Gardening in China

Food safety concerns and increasing incomes are sparking growth in urban gardening and farming among Chinese consumers, according to China Daily.

“More urban residents, many of whom are young people between the ages of 25 to 35 living in metropolises such as Beijing, are growing vegetables and herbs on their balconies or rented farmland in the suburbs, and turning to Taobao, a major online shopping service provider in China, to start their apartment gardens,” the paper reported Monday.

According to China Daily, online searches for the Tabao have jumped 280 percent in the past year — indicating that a growing number of people are looking to buy seeds and tools to start vegetable patches.

The paper features Xue Ling, 26, who says she has been planting vegetables on the small balcony of her apartment since 2010.

“It’s the only way to keep my food, at least the vegetables, clean and safe,” said Xue Ling. “Then I found out that many of my friends have realized the importance of eating vegetables. They have been busy planting this year and asked for my help to get tools for them.”

In response to growing demand, Xue launched her own shop to sell supplies and business is booming.

In China, fruit and vegetables have had their share of scandals in recent years — cucumbers with contraceptives, leeks filled with toxic pesticides, exploding watermelons, pesticide-laden beans, to name a few.

The paper featured several other urban farmers who are growing food primarily so they know where it came from and that it is safe to eat.

“Planting vegetables by myself may cost more money than buying them from the market and they might consume extra energy. But the risk of having polluted food is everywhere,” said new farmer who bought a plot of land outside the city to grow vegetables. “I don’t want my 3-year-old daughter to suffer from any of it.”

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