The sleeper has to awake on this one.
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‘You Get What You Pay For’: The Hidden Price of Food from China
By SPIEGEL Staff: SUSANNE AMANN, CHARLOTTE HAUNHORST, UDO LUDWIG, MAXIMILIAN POPP, SANDRA SCHULZ, ANDREAS ULRICH AND BERNHARD ZAND
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Source – Der Spiegel, published October 17, 2012
In recent years, China has become a major food supplier to Europe. But the low-cost goods are grown in an environment rife with pesticides and antibiotics, disproportionately cited for contamination and subject to an inspection regime full of holes. A recent norovirus outbreak in Germany has only heightened worries.
Qufu, the city in China’s southwestern Shandong Province where Confucius was born, isn’t exactly an attractive place. But its fields are as good as gold. A few weeks ago, a shipment of strawberries left those fields bound for Germany.
The air above the cities of the Chinese heartland is blackened with smog, as trucks barrel along freshly paved roads carrying loads of coal from the mines or iron girders from the region’s smelters. Fields stretch to the horizon, producing food to feed the world’s most populous country.
The chili pepper and cotton harvests have just ended, the rice harvest begins in two weeks, and garlic will be ready in April. Thousands of female farm workers are kneeling in the fields planting the next crop of a particularly profitable plant in the international food business.
“Garlic is eaten everywhere,” says Wu Xiuqin, 30, the sales director at an agricultural business called “Success.” “We sell garlic all over the world, and increasingly to Germany.” The going price of a ton of white garlic is currently $1,200 (€920). The Germans, says Wu, insist on “pure white” product, and they want the garlic individually packaged.
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