For most Chinese people who lived between the 1950`s and the 1990`s, the food coupon was one of the representations of a planned economy. Each single food had its coupon. Cash and coupon had to be used together in order to buy anything. It was an age when commodities and materials were in scarcity. In fact, food coupons were still in use until I was 2 years old. According to my father, he had to buy extra food coupons in a black market in order to provide sufficient food for my mother when she was pregnant. Although food was scarce, people never had such concern as food safety since food was organic and natural. With one problem being solved, another came up. Ten years later, when food shortage was no longer a problem, the issue of food safety came up.
By 1998 China`s economy had basically shifted to market economy. Food coupons became history and the supply of food was sufficient and plenty. One of the reasons that this issue could be solved was the large-scale use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. In addition, growth hormones and antibiotics were commonly used in live stock cultivation. By doing this, the productivity was boosted dramatically.
The summer of that year, I was sent to my mother`s friend for daycare. The lady who took care of me was so nice that she cooked fried chicken for almost every meal I ate at her house. Children like fried chicken and there was no exception with me. After going to her house for two months, my parents found I had gained so much weight that I could say I had mild child obesity. However, the obesity was not the only consequence. The following years, I had to go to the hospital when flu season came because of an immune deficiency. Two years later, the problem of overuse of growth hormones and antibiotics in chickens was disclosed by the media in China. Many children who were the same age as me generally had health problems such as low immunity and obesity. At that time my parents realized that the growth hormones were the reason for my obesity. Moreover, my immune system was altered by the overdose of antibiotics that remained in the chicken I ate. Since then, our family has no longer consumed any chicken bought from the supermarket. We started to pay attention to what we put on our dining table every day.
Since my parents started to be concerned with the food safety issue, many types of food disappeared from our dining table. We stopped consuming any domestically produced milk since melamine was found in the products of one of China`s largest dairy companies in 2008. Moreover, we no longer bought any food products from the supermarket since food additives were being overused. Almost at the same time, more and more food safety issues were exposed to the public. For example, the remaining pesticide on many vegetables exceeded the standard level. After experiencing all this food safety issue, our daily life was changed completely.
The worsening food safety situation in China did not only stop us from buying some food products but it also shaped the way my family shopped for groceries. My parents began to visit the traditional market more often. Specifically, my dad built a good relationship with some venders. Most of them were honest farmers and they would have told us what was organic and natural, which meant they grew the vegetables on their own land without the use of chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides. On the weekend, my family drove to the countryside to buy agricultural products from the local farmers. Once we went to a farmer`s house to purchase vegetables and he showed us his garden. When my father saw the garden, it