China’s increased wealth has come with the problems of urbanisation, pollution and poor eating habits. Together with recent food safety scandals that have been addressed by the government, this has caused more socially conscious consumers in the People’s Republic to seek all that is organic, healthy and sustainable, fuelling demand for healthier food in mega-cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing. Alternative food outlets and networks are popping up all over the place in the form farmers’ markets and organic restaurants.
One example is Beijing Country Fair, an organic farmers’ market that is rapidly increasing in popularity, especially among the growing middle class. Every week the market groups some 20 small and medium sized local farms which produce home-grown items, everything from rice and vegetables, to chicken, eggs and meat. The fair’s success is largely due to its presence on Sina Weibo, China’s largest micro-blogging site, which has become an important platform for showcasing the products that are available for purchase. The blog has also become a formidable online force with some 63,000 daily visits. The fair also sustains local, organic agriculture by raising as much as 100,000 yuan, about 12,250 euros, each time it gathers.