China Business

China: Don’t Drink The Water Don’t Breathe The Air, Don’t Eat The Food And Don’t Wear The Shoes

China attorney

I hate stories like this.

I can remember the first time I went to the Russian Far East around ten years ago. I landed in Vladivostok and was picked up at the airport by a driver who my law firm’s Russian specialist assured me would take good care of me. The driver came with his own bodyguard/friend, and the two of them were quick to show me they each had baseball bats — yes, real wood baseball bats. Do not ask me how they got them in Vladivostok or why they needed real baseball bats. It was only on my subsequent January trip to Vladivostok that I was arrested and then had to hole up in a hotel in Magadan with no heat. But I digress.

Anyway, on the trip from the airport to downtown Vlad, I was all eyes and what I noticed were countless abandoned factories, many of them with huge holding ponds filled with what were no doubt toxic chemicals.  Near as I could tell, none of these holding ponds had anything even resembling an impermeable lining to prevent seepage of the chemicals into the surrounding soil. And what typically surrounded these ponds now? Tomato farms, which my drivers (in broken English and Russian) explained were “very good.” For two solid weeks, I ate pretty much nothing but sturgeon and potatoes. Nobody could understand why I was turning down the only thing offered (the tomatoes!) with any color.
Which gets me to the whole point of this post. Time Magazine just did a rather sobering story, entitled, China’s Taste for Toxins, regarding toxins in China food:

Chinese shoppers are used to warnings about tainted food. According to a November report by the Asian Development Bank, food-borne disease affects 300 million Chinese per year, costing up to $14 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses. But a recent string of high-profile health scares involving toxic ingredients has consumers worried about more than a stomachache.

In Hong Kong, imports of freshwater fish from the mainland were halted in November for 18 days after officials discovered MALACHITE GREEN , a banned fungicide possibly linked to cancer, in samples of fish from local markets.

On Feb. 5, the Chinese government released a list of 10 of last year’s most egregious food-safety cases — everything from selling homemade beer in brand-name bottles to making edible gelatin from OLD LEATHER. The top spot went to a firm in Jiangsu province busted for adulterating its nationally sold nutritional supplement, supposedly made from silkworm chrysalis. The real ingredients? Dried pig’s blood and chicken feathers.

On Feb. 6, Chinese health officials ordered six kinds of lipstick from two Shantou-based companies — including a strawberry-flavored variety — pulled from stores after they were found to contain SUDAN RED, an industrial dye known to cause cancer in lab animals. The dye, used to color petrol and floor polish, has also shown up in some Chinese chili powders and eggs.

Tests by environmental group Greenpeace recently detected residue from banned PESTICIDES such as DDT in 4 out of 5 mainland-grown tangerines, strawberries and green vegetables bought in Hong Kong produce markets. One tangerine tested positive for 13 different pesticides.

I remember being in Korea, a few years ago when Korea was talking about (or maybe did) enacting a temporary ban on Chinese seafood after the third incident of finding lead pellets in fish stomachs, intentionally put there to add weight.

Fibre2fashion just did an article on how British customs has detained children’s shoes made in Wenzhou City because the shoes were found to contain “carcinogenic substances like naphthalene.”  The shoes will be sent back to Wenzhou (is anyone willing to bet they will not be re-sold?) or destroyed.

So what’s a conscientious Westerner to do?

My best advice is that until China starts enforcing food safety laws, don’t think about food safety. Just eat.

57 responses to “China: Don’t Drink The Water Don’t Breathe The Air, Don’t Eat The Food And Don’t Wear The Shoes”

  1. I for one would hope this shows Whole Foods Market that costal cities in China are of big potential markets to supply organic “SAFE” food! 😉
    Major retailers like Wal-Mart and Carrefour have been betting on this for a while with both frequently talk about their total control over their produce supply and their contracted farm management in major cities.

  2. Food scare stories run the world round – we had a whole bunch of stuff pulled off the UK shelves in 2004-05 after it was found to have Sudan Red (an India link I think).
    Having said that China does seem especially bad. Remember the parasite eggs found in Chinese kimchi exports to Korea (from what polite folk term “night soil” being used as fertiliser)? The poisonous powdered baby milk scam? The current investigation of the State Food and Drugs Administration head for taking bribes to approve medicines?
    On a side note the US Chamber of Commerce has also argued that the media seems to be using food scares to raise consumer fears about foreign foods. China wouldn’t be the first East Asian nation to go down that route…

  3. Whole Foods would have to import most of its product from the US or Europe (don’t know the state of the organic market in Japan or SK). The prices would make City Shopper look like Costco.
    As for China, everything is tampered and tinkered with, the same ingredients used to make that infamous fake baby powder can be found in chinese brand milk and when you are in a bus, car or train and see peasants spraying plants wearing only the clothes on their back…that’s not water they are spraying.
    China’s bad food exports has diplomatic baggage too. SK banned chinese made kimchee because of various toxins and spoilage. Instead of fixing the problem, Beijing scolded Seoul for not “consulting” the Dragon Throne before acting on its own. Old behaviors die hard.

  4. Don’t think, just eat? I thought that was only applicable to unidentifiable foods on lazy Susan?
    The food chain in China is another area that I suspect you will see high profile prosecutions. the former head of SFDA was taken down for fake pharmaceutical, and the next few weeks are sure to bring down more people related to corruption.
    Outside of the corruption issues, there are a number of other issues that contribute to the poor quality of the food chain:
    1) Land contamination
    2) Poor farming techniques and poor knowledge of pesticide usage
    3) Lack of proper cold chain facilities
    4) Poor water quality in cities (sometimes the water contamination has more junk than the veggies that are being washed)
    At the same time though, there have been improvements:
    1) Lianhua, Carrefour, and others are implementing centralized buying (McDonalds just rolled up a huge amount of land in NE China to support stores)
    2) Organic farms (Ostore) are bring seen more and more – still minority for sure
    3) Government recognition of problem and public outing of offenders (Heinz 2 years ago).
    Ironically, the only time I have had food poisoning in China was at a foreign restaurant….

  5. “to hit anyone who tried to attack us ” – you should have skipped this part. I was just about imagining a dark corner they’ve pushed you in to ask politely to contribute some wealth to a poor region…
    On a second note for those of us living in a overly polluted Beijing – we are all going to die early anyways so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

  6. Whole foods in China…good idea. As for the price, Whole Foods is not the most expensive grocery store Bistro Farms still got plenty of bussiness at price twice as much of Whole Foods.
    Maybe Whole Foods China can help develop China’s own farming like they did to some southern Mexico farmers (where Whole Foods is producing several of their veggies).

  7. The head of the SDFA was fired, but how many others knew about it? Pan Yue, the head of CEPA, was fired after the big benzene explosion, even though local officials and plant managers took great pains to cover it up. A few people were fired for the fake baby powder scam, even though it stretched across 7-8 provinces and involved an entire chain of state owned factories.
    Lianhua and Carrefour have buying power that smaller chains and mom and pop stores don’t have, and even Lianhua and Carrefour couldn’t do much about a focused effort to “cut costs” and that includes court action (especially Carrefour since they are foreign).
    An organic farm in China? Who is going to establish and regulate the standards? How can you punish violators?
    Yeah, Heinz got busted, so has Nestle and Hagen Daaz. See a pattern?
    With a few exceptions, even foreign restaurants get most or all of their food from local suppliers.

  8. Thinking about how to take measures against this problem presents a set of problems itself. Shopping for groceries at Wal*Mart or Carrefour would seem to be the best way to avoid unsafe foods. However, my mother-in-law is staying with us for a few months, and there is no way I could convince her that the vegetables at the local vegetable stand being sold at the cheapest possible price are probably less safe than the slightly more expensive veggies at Wal*Mart. For her, price is the only consideration and saving a few jiao on the jin is of supreme importance. This attitude, I think, is a big reason why this is such a big problem in China in the first place.

  9. Kevin,
    I have had similar conversations. Price is important, and even arguments like “you get what you pay for” (yi fen qian, yi fen huo) don’t go very far.
    There are other issues as well. When asked by her friends where YJ and I might raise our children, I suggested I was concerned over quality control in China of many products for infants as well as larger issues of food safety. (I have long ago given up worrying about what I eat, but a growing baby is something else.)
    Her friends reacted with indignance that I might suggest Chinese products are somehow less “safe.” I reminded them that one of the leading brands of milk powder trumpets itself as “Australian made” as a way of demonstrating its safety. They would have none of it.
    On a positive note, I applaud the recent upsurge of local media reports on unsafe foods. This is an issue that clearly concerns everybody who lives in China and I think it is one that will get better over time. One need only recall Upton Sinclair to remember a similar situation in the development of the American food industry.

  10. Mr. Li —
    Whole Foods. Interesting idea. Seeing as how I go there about twice a week and love it, that certainly would be nice. At my brother’s wedding (he’s from Houston, where Whole Foods is based) a year or so ago, I sat at a table with a Whole Foods exec. He told me WF sites its stores based on educational levels, not income. How would that play in China?

  11. Duncan —
    I hate kimchi. Hate it. I ALWAYS eat Japanese when I’m in Korea. Everyone there knows it. So, I don’t remember the kimchi scare and for me, that would just be yet another reason to stay away from the stuff. I mean, how good can a food be when people brag about how long their Halmani (grandmother) buried it in the back yard. Oooh.
    In 1993, my law firm was representing one of the companies involved in the Seattle Jack in the Box e-coli case. I have not had a speck of meat since. No kidding.
    As for foreign threats, can you say mad cow?

  12. nanheyangrouchuan —
    Whole Foods would have unbelievable logistical issues with which to contend in China, but someone has to start somewhere. I have no doubt though that organic is catching on in China. Last time I was in China, I went to the Carrefour in Qingdao to buy some tea to bring back and I had no clue which one to buy. I asked a store clerk and she instantly started touting an organic one. What do I know, I bought it. Is it really organic? I have no idea, though it has some nice labels saying it is. Is it great tea? Yes.

  13. All Roads Lead to China (Rich) —
    I too have been pretty lucky. Got sick once in Yantai, just stopping off at a random restaurant near the hotel late at night. Worst food poisoning I ever got was at one of HK’s so-called best Thai restaurants. Sick for days. Oh yea, there was the time I got it in Seoul and could not leave on my scheduled day so got to watch 100,000 people chanting “Down with the USA” from my window at the Westin Chosun. They were mad beacause a couple of American soldiers had run over and killed a 14 year old Korean girl.
    I try to be really careful, but one never knows. I also always travel with Cipro and Immodium. Always.

  14. Arty —
    Thanks for checking in. Never heard of Bistro Farms, but here in Seattle, Metropolitan Market and Central Market make Whole Foods (a/k/a Whole Paycheck) look cheap. I actually think that if one is careful at Whole Foods, the prices are fine. I admit I am totally hooked so it may just be cognitive dissonance kicking in.

  15. Kevin —
    I will give a million to one odds your mother in law is Chinese.
    I agree with everything you are saying, but the 32 year old attorney in Shanghai or the 28 year old software coder in Beijing are not your mother in law and those people are more likely to lead China into the future than your mother in law. Of course, this is going to take a long time and a lot more deaths from bad food, but slowly but surely, it will happen.
    Just today I had lunch with a Chinese attorney from Shanghai and we talked about the possibility of pursuing food litigation in China together. I was surprised to learn how easy it is to bring such lawsuits in China on behalf of the public. Maybe the lawyers will help lead the change, just as lawyers have helped make things safer (cars, bikes, etc.) here in the US.

  16. Jeremiah —
    I ain’t buying it. Either your relatives are rubes, or they were playing nationalists with you. The surveys I have seen of Chuppies show that they fully recognize that American and European brands are likely to be safer. My lawyer friends in China tell me the same thing. Do they something different when the big Laowai is not around?

  17. That was my guess because, as I mentioned, the number of food and product safety stories in the print and broadcast media would suggest that this is an issue of great concern for everybody. I must also reiterate that while journalists do get criticized for “muck-raking”, it is this kind of investigative journalism that changed the way Americans look at issues of product and food safety. I think it’s a very positive sign that such stories are being broadcast with such frequency over the past few years. It bodes well for continuing progress in better consumer protection.

  18. I am on the beautiful Li River this week…
    It is one of the clearest bodies of water I have seen here…
    I took a trip down the valley on a bamboo boat and stopped along the way for more beer and relief from same…
    I noticed, after the fact, that the bathroom was nothing more than a sluice emptying into the river…
    I threw away the local strawberries I had rinsed under a waterfall, went home and boiled my shoes and socks, bought LOTS more beer (fished the chunks out first) and sandblasted the shells off my river shrimp for dinner and then boiled them in Pepto Bismol …
    Life is good in China…

  19. Another question to raise is: How will Chinese cuisine fare within China, the raw vegetables, meat and seafood being what they are? Maybe it’s just me but the food hereabouts sure tastes weird.
    I sometimes think that the best Chinese cuisine is no longer found within China but in places like Vancouver, where many skilled Chinese chefs have emigrated and where plenty of wholesome vegetables, meat and seafood (the salmon!) can be found.

  20. Wabisabi —
    There are those who claim HK and Taipei have the best Chinese food. I have never been to Taipei, but have had unbelievably good meals in Taipei. I will also say there are some great Chinese restaurants in Vancouver (no such great restaurants in Seattle, unfortunately). But, I also have certainly had some unbelievably good food in China. I don’t know why it is, but some of the best food I have had in China has been in Qingdao (where there is a Sichuan restaurant I have been known to dream about) and Dalian. I am a seafood guy and those two cities are big on seafood.
    BTW — I am loving your What the Thunder Said Blog on life in HK Biglaw. I especially liked your current post on the red envelopes and I am not the least bit surprised by the conclusions. I am hugely impressed by your ability to keep up three such disparate blogs:
    1)Beniguma: Japanese cinema, literature and aesthetics (this is also where I will post my Japanese poems written in various classical styles every now and then)
    2) Iwa ni Hana: Commentary and analysis of art-house Japanese anime
    3) What the Thunder Said: Legal studies and legal practice in Hong Kong, ‘the two Chinas’ and Japan.
    Are you Japanese? How is your Chinese? I have many friends who are lawyers at HK firms and I am dying to know if any of them are at your firm. Of course, you would have to kill me if I were ever to find out. (All Roads — I did not mean that literally).

  21. “I have had similar conversations. Price is important, and even arguments like “you get what you pay for” (yi fen qian, yi fen huo) don’t go very far.”
    That problem exists with Chuppies also, it seems to me that chinese love to complain. Either it is too expensive, regardless of the quality (especially if said product is a non-face building item like a real Prada bag) or if it is cheap and the quality is bad, another reason to complain.
    @CLB, organic chains do source their supplies in N. America based on their standards, but what if they get “tricked” by a grower (small amounts of hormones/pesticides/herbicides/meat-fed animals), do they have legal recourse? If consumers buy products marketed as “organic” and they are not, isn’t that false advertising?
    Weigh that against the liklihood of a foreign grocery chain successfully bringing suit against a large farm in a faraway province (knowing that said farm(s) provide generous income to local and provincial officials).
    And those farms in NE china that foreign supermarkets, McDs, and Burger King source their food from? Those farms are in the path of China’s toxic sand storms which are gearing up to poison Korea and Japan again. Now how safe is that food? Those sand storms carry so much mercury and lead, fish consumers in the US are on notice to reduce consumption and have their blood checked.

  22. I think Whole Foods stand a chance in Shanghai with its recent pledge in buying local and that’s inline with China’s policy in helping farmers. Several friends work with Taiwan’s agriculture have been doing well in China. Several towns and cities around Shanghai are eager to fund high value agriculture products. Last year, the imported Taiwanese fruits were about twice the price of local varieties and they still got large backlog to fill. Chinese do pay premium for organic food. There are about 3 organic food markets in Gubei, one near by Xintiandi but they are not interesting to shop. Most of people send their Ayi to shop instead.
    If Whole Foods were to come to China, they should build markets on expats and bring those out to shop instead of their Ayi. Strike deals with farming towns to ensure local supply. Carrefour/Wal-Mart are doing that but their prices are low low low. Most of the local suppliers don’t like them. A friend once got a 10 tons beef jerky order from Wal-Mart but the profit margin is only 1/4 of usual order.
    One other thing Whole Foods can do is to follow the Starbucks model: being the place to be seen and symbol of affluence.
    It could work. Adjust the site selection to where the most mid-age Lao Wai live and build up reputation from there. Shanghainese go to great length to find best supermarket in town. Carrefour in Gubei have shoppers from all over the town since it’s widely believed it has the best quality in town. People came all the way from Pudong to shop there, even it’s more expensive comparing to other Carrefour in town.

  23. nanheyangrouchuan,
    I think you are asking the wrong questions. Big chains like Carrefour, McD and Wal-Mart employee their own food inspectors and often have very specific clauses in the contracts to uphold their standard. My friend selling beef jerky to Wal-Mart has to agreed to an contract allowing Wal-Mart to inspect its factory at anytime without prior notice and full access to all personnel data to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart doesn’t need a “Wal-Mart beef jerky, made by (of?) Chinese kids” PR nightmare.
    As for legal question, I think it’s should be whether the farmers in N. China can afford to sue Wal-Mart, Carrefour or McD to collect payment with their violation of the contracts. Guess which side Shanghai or Beijing courts are likely to side with?

  24. Another example of niche super market is Jenny Lou’s in Beijing. Starting as a roadside fruit stand less then 10 years ago, Jenny now owns several super markets catering primarily to expats.

  25. nanheyangrouchuan —
    Stuff happens here too, without litigation. IF WF were to go into China, I am sure they would do a decent job monitoring their sources, just as McDonald’s has done around the world.
    I wonder if WF has any plans for China. I note they are in England and Canada and the US, but nowhere else. Is China their next logical market? I have no clue?

  26. Mr. Li (i, ii) — I think you are right on all counts.
    Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers Are Liars (great book, BTW) talks about WF and how shopping there helps us create an image in our minds as to who we are: people who care about our family’s health and the environment. Whether it is true or not is, of course, a whole ‘nother story.

  27. Mr. Li (iii) —
    My firm used to have an apartment in Qingdao in a complex with many foreigners (mostly Koreans and Japanese, but some Americans and Euros as well). Within our complex (which was not huge) was a small grocery store with an amazing supply of American products, from cereal to spaghetti sauce to oreo cookies. The owner of the store had a sister in Los Angeles who would ship the foods to Qingdao. The store did an amazing job of stocking the foods foreigners want and did a bang up business with margins (I am sure) higher than the typical small store.
    I am sure there are places like this all over China already, where it makes sense.

  28. CLB,
    Bistrol Farms (I spelled wrong last time) is actually older thank Whole Foods. I actaully suspect Whole Foods copied Bistrol Farms’ format. It only has store in extremely expansive neighbor in California. To create a Whole Food like chain stores, I think using either Taiwan or HK as starting point is very good idea, since if a store can’t make it there, I doubt it will make it in China.
    I used to live in Seattle and Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are usually my backup gocery stores. The new QFC in the U district is good enough.

  29. A Glimpse at a Reunification Issue
    The China Law Blog offers a reason to avoid Russian produce; on the trip from the airport to downtown Vlad, I was all eyes and what I noticed were countless abandoned factories, many of them with huge holding ponds filled with what were n…

  30. Thank you for your compliments. Anyone interested in the law blog ‘What the Thunder Said’ can find it at:
    I studied Japanese for my undergraduate degree and I am a native speaker of Chinese. As for the lawyers at my firm – there are hundreds and I do not know them all. At any rate, my law blog is rather subversive, and as much as I prefer anonymity, it’s not like I am reinventing the wheel – anything I say has probably been said better long ago by someone else.

  31. Organic agriculture is hot stuff in china now.
    The worst time is in the 1990s when my parents in a small town of 10k ppl in southern shangdong refused to buy vegetables WITHOUT worm bite holes becuase local farmers used a lot of pesticides. More pesticides=no worm=Toxic stuff.
    For the last 5,6 years Local governments have been promoting organic agricuture among local farmers and it turns out to be fairly effective. Now. they dont have problem buying whatever they like.
    Besides my hometown is the biggest vegetable supplier for shanghai/Guangzhou, possiblly beijing

  32. Oh I forgot, there is good Chinese Resturant in Seattle. Yea’s Wok at Factoria is really good (unless it has changed since I left). The chef used to be one of the main chefs at Taiwan’s Imperial Hotel.

  33. Arty —
    There are definitely some smaller, hugely upscale grocery chains out there. Metropolitan Market and Central Market come to mind. QFC was bought by Kroger a few years ago and I am guessing your love for the QFC at U-Village predates that.

  34. jk —
    Thanks for checking in with your interesting recollections. Your parents were ahead of their times and I am guessing that played a role in your learning English as well as you have. Shandong is some good farm country, that’s for sure.

  35. Arty —
    I have heard a lot about Yea’s Wok (it is still there), but since I tend to get lost every time I go to the burbs ….
    Actually, I will go there sometime, especially now that I have a GPS.

  36. Mr. Li –
    I think I will have to award you the title of best-read reader. What a great story. Leave it to California. I can remember many years ago I had a friend who had lived in China and he would tell me that one way to find the best Chinese restaurants in the US is to find those that have been cited for not keeping their food refrigerated. He insisted that whatever goes into a wok should be at room temperature first.

  37. “As for legal question, I think it’s should be whether the farmers in N. China can afford to sue Wal-Mart, Carrefour or McD to collect payment with their violation of the contracts. Guess which side Shanghai or Beijing courts are likely to side with?”
    Individual farmers won’t sue, they’ll complain to local and provincial officials who will use this as “foreign companies cheating chinese” to extract a settlement, ie hush money. The farmers will still get screwed, or get enough to fulfill the contact, but the foreign companies will get milked and may get bad press for “looking down on chinese”.

  38. Chinese people and chinese government are facing a great dilemma now.
    About 10 years ago, I read a report about the water pollution in Huai River area. Huai River is a big river that flows across henan, Shandong,anhui, and jiangsu. Farmers that live aside it use its water to irrigate plants and for everyday life use. Lianhua (or Lotus) Corp in zhoukou, henan, is the biggest MSG producer in china and has been dumping waste water into Huai river ever since its establishment.The water pollution was so bad that vegetables and wheat would die if irrigated, not to mention drinking. Local farmers sued lianhua corp to no avail. Why? Lianhua pays a lot of tax. I absolutely hated chinese government for not doing anything about it and wished lianhua corp to be shut down immediately.
    In my hometown there is this small state owned paper producing factory, a big water and air polluter and a big headache for my hometown. Local government ordered it to install wastewater treatment equipments but the factory didnt comply because the equipments are too costly, 30-50 million yuan. That factory itself is barely profitable, there is no way it can come up with 30 million yuan for wastewater treatment. Yet it can not be shut down because it employs 500 people.These 500 people need to bring money back home every month and its almost impossible for them to find other job opportunities as other SOEs are on verge of bankrupcy or have bankrupted.
    I am pretty sure you can see this kind of situation everywhere in china. People need food to feed themselver, need moeny to raise their children. Its the kind of basic human right that no one can deprive of. Its a tragedy that has no immediate remedy. As chinese used to say, Yin3 zhen4 zhi3 ke3, that means drinking toxic water to quench your thirst.

  39. jk:
    That is the kind of story I have heard and seen quite a few times over there and the kind of story that expat and international businesspeople (including lawyers) want to whitewash, ignore or downplay in the name of what Americans call “maintaining an even keel”. They can’t do business if their current and potential clients are afraid of the air and water, which they should be, and China’s pollution problems are not limited to China. Wind and water currents do not respect political boundaries. The yangtze river is lined with non-operating, brand new water treatment plants because the managers and gov’t officials are rewarded by higher ups for turning a profit on their operations, and paying people to be quiet and sit at home while not using the plants is the best way to turn a profit on each operation. So, any supermarket or restaurant that buys locally is getting heavily tainted food simply because the irrigation water is so polluted and untreated.
    CLB, take a poll of people you know living in China and ask them how often they have bad colds and diarrhea, as well as hemorrhoid flareups well before 50 years of age.
    Glorious declarations by Beijing and green technology trade shows are dog and pony shows and moves to get western tech for reverse engineering and resale purposes.
    Oh yeah, I’ve been emailing lots of chinese email addresses educating them on “Silent Spring” and the US NEPA, CWA and CAA as well as ever present opposition to green laws by western corporations (including european companies). People have a right to know

  40. jk —
    In my view, you have nailed the issues right on the head. Economics versus the environment, and as much as we wish it were otherwise, it really isn’t. If China were a democracy and if pollution did not spill over borders, we could all sit back and say let China decide where on the economy/environment continuum does it want to be. But, as we all know, it is far more complicated than that.

  41. nanheyangrouchuan —
    Of course it is bad in China and of course people have a right to know. Okay, now what? Should China be forced to turn into Denmark overnight, let jobs be damned?

  42. We used to use the California Health Department check label to judge Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park in L.A. ‘F’ = Best and Authentic, ‘A’ = Chinese food for, well, white people. 😉

  43. China’s pollution problem is not caused by a lack of technology, they have the money to buy gear and the expertise both at home and from abroad to use it and clean things up. China has no political will to really bring down the brick outhouse on violators, both foreign and domestic, and is somewhat unable to stop local officials who cover for the polluters.
    Let’s not be naive about the “other” reasons that foreign companies went first to SE Asia and then to China.

  44. I generally agreed on Sushi. However, best one I have in L.A. had a ‘C’ at the door next to “No California Roll” because the owner insisted on buying fresh fishes every morning and refused to put them in refrigerator. Well, he also refused customers ordering anything, just ate whatever he prepared. And he yell at anyone using too much wasabi.

  45. Mr. Li —
    I MUST have the name of that place. I live for sushi So much so that I feel the chef was being nice for yelling only at those who use too much wasabi; he should be yelling at anyone who uses any wasabi at all. If you are at a top sushi restaurant, adding wasabi is basically the equivalent of asking for ketchup for your duck l’orange at an ultra high end Western restaurant. YOU MUST TRUST THE SUSHI CHEF! But even worse than those who add wasabi are those who mix the wasabi in with the soy sauce. APPALLING!

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