The government promotes them as a strategy to address the country's agricultural problems--providing sufficient and safe produces for the population--and to supply upper-middle class consumers’ with fresh organic produce. China's boom in "organic" foods is thus playing a role in the rapid disappearance of traditional peasant farming and the rise of an industrial model of standardised mass food production.
The market for certified organic foods has been growing steadily in recent years in China, thanks to increasing urban incomes and numerous food scares. Demands are high for all types of fresh vegetables and fruits, throughout the year. But, because of self-sufficiency policies in vegetable production, municipal governments are required to ensure that a high proportion of their city’s vegetable supply is produced within the municipal jurisdiction. To increase supplies of organic fruits and vegetables to meet demand, municipal governments have turned to forms of “factory farming” and marketing, such as e-marketing, that are out of step with the organic agriculture movement in many other countries.
As eloquently explained by Prof. Jingzhong Ye, it is not easy to fully display the predicaments that millions of Chinese peasants are suffering through today, as a result of large-scale development projects, modernisation, urbanisation and commodification. They have paid a huge price for the continuous economic boom of the country. The original ideas behind alternative organic food distribution systems, like community supported agriculture (CSA), was for urban consumers to pool money to support farmers in return for organic farm produce. But in China what we are seeing instead is that this demand for organic foods is leading to a new class of hi-tech urban farmers and online food merchants, with rural peasants and small vendors once again being shut out of the picture.