September 13th is Mid-Autumn Day

September 11, 2019

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is similar to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Families and friends in China get together and celebrate a bountiful harvest by coming together to eat, drink, and be happy.

Around the world, Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate this festival. For instance, in San Francisco, not far from where I live, the Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival took place on September 7 – 8, 2019.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, it is customary to have Moon-Watching parties, and offerings are still made to the Moon.

Also known as the “Full Moon Festival,” the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month and takes place when the moon’s orbit is at its lowest angle to the horizon, making the moon appear brighter and larger than any other time of the year.

One historical event linked to this festival is the Moon Cake Uprising.

Near the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), many Chinese wanted to take back their country from the invading Mongols. Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the resistance forces. However, it was not easy to organize the different factions spread across the country so the rebels hid notes with details about the rebellion in mooncakes and sent them to the different factions on Mid-Autumn Day. Since then, eating moon cakes have been a Chinese custom during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

About iLook China

Advertisements

Rice and its History

August 28, 2019

When you think of rice, do you think of China? If not, you should. China is the world’s largest producer of rice with 208-million metric tons in 2017, and the crop makes up a little less than half of the country’s total grain output.

Ricepedia.org reports, “Based on archeological evidence, rice was believed to have first been domesticated in the region of the Yangtze River Valley in China.” Then “In the late 3rd millennium BC, there was a rapid expansion of rice cultivation into mainland Southeast Asia and westwards across India and Nepal.”

Fast forward ten-to-eleven thousand years from the domestication of rice in China to 2017, and Statista reported, that almost 496-million metric tons of husked rice were produced in the last harvest year worldwide, and China’s share was almost 42-percent of the global total.

When we compare rice to wheat production, “the global amount of wheat produced came to about 755-million metric tons in crop year 2016-2017.”

World Atlas.com says, China is (also) the largest producer of wheat in the world. “China produces more wheat than any other country, followed by India, Russia, and the United States.”

How difficult is it to grow rice? “All rice cultivation is highly labour intensive. Rice is generally grown as a wetland crop in fields flooded to supply water during the growing season. Transplanting seedlings requires many hours of labor, as does harvesting. Mechanization of rice cultivation is only minimally advanced. Rice cultivation also demands more of other inputs, such as fertilizer, than most other crops.”

When comparing the benefits of rice to wheat, “A study published … by a group of psychologists in the journal Science finds that China’s noodle-slurping northerners are more individualistic, show more ‘analytic thought’ and divorce more frequently. By contrast, the authors write, rice-eating southerners show more hallmarks traditionally associated with East Asian culture, including more ‘holistic thought’ and lower divorce rates. The reason? Cultivating rice, the authors say, is a lot harder.”

How important is rice when it comes to feeding the world? Thought Co.com tells us: “Today, rice feeds more than half the world’s population and accounts for 20-percent of the world’s total calorie intake.”

Next time you eat a bowl of rice, you might want to thank the Chinese for domesticating it for the world?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

About iLook China


The Life of Dogs in China

July 3, 2019

Thought Co says, “Dogs are known the world over as man’s best friend. But in China, dogs are also eaten as food.”

While it is true that dogs are still food for some, most Chinese do not eat dog meat. In fact, ltl-school reveals, “the simple fact is most Chinese adore dogs just like many western households do. The practice of eating dog meat in China is actually much less common than most expats think. …  One thing we can say for sure, eating dog is NOT common practice in China and Chinese restaurantstofu and pretty much anything else is much more common.”

I’m a vegan and visited China several times starting in 1999 and my last trip was in 2008. Not once did I see dog meat offered on any menu, and I also did not see dogs in cages in the farmers’ markets I visited. I saw ducks and chickens in cages waiting to be bought and slaughtered, but there were no dogs or cats.

In fact, China is more vegan and vegetarian-friendly than in the United States.

GBTimes reports China’s love-hate history with dogs. “China began domesticating dogs thousands of years ago, producing many of the breeds that remain popular today. Over the centuries, however, the Chinese have also developed a complicated love-hate relationship with its canine population.” …

“In ancient China, the dog was one of the most honoured and cherished animals.”

Then during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, “Dogs were seen as a symbol of the bourgeois, therefore they were involved in the class struggle,” Marina Shafir explained. “There was a mass extirpation of dogs, and many of the original Chinese dog breeds almost became extinct.”

Then once Mao died along with his Cultural Revolution, dogs made a comeback, not as food but as an honored and cherished family member.

What is it like owning a dog in China today?

The Culture Trip answers that question. “Walk down any street in Shanghai or Beijing and you’re sure to see little brown poodles dressed more extravagantly than their owners, schnauzers with impressive beards, and shiba inus that look like they’ve been ripped straight from a meme. Little old ladies are more likely to be seen with a dog buggy than a baby buggy, and Uncle Ma is able to impress his friends with his samoyed, as if it were a Bulgari watch.” … “Dog ownership is on the rise. There are an estimated 100 million registered dogs in China, with the real number being likely even higher.”

In addition, the BBC reveals that Taiwan has banned the selling and eating of cats and dogs and that in mainland China, “The practice of eating cats and dogs has become less common as pet ownership rises, and new generations have different attitudes to eating domestic animals.”

If you are a hardcore meat eater, hate vegetables and tofu, and want to try out dog, “Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat,” but you better hurry because in 2016 there were large protests against this festival throughout China.

However, if eating dog and cat ends in China, never fear, because there is a better country to visit if you want to chow down on dog. South Korea, according to the BBC, has an estimated 17,000 dog farms, and then there is Thailand and Vietnam.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

 


China takes the lead in growing indoor crops

June 26, 2019

I recently read a comment on another blog that said Trump was going to win his tariff war with China because of a crop eating pest known as the fall armyworm that is threatening China’s domestic food supply.

So far, this worm has only attacked crops in Southern China.

The flaw in this thinking is the fact that China imports food from other countries. In fact, in 2017, China bought more food products from France than the United States, and World Bank.org lists the countries China buys from and how much China spends. All you have to do is click the World Bank link in this paragraph to discover those facts.

The comment I read mentioned Inkstone News.com, “To compound matters, China’s food supply was already under pressure after it was forced to slaughter millions of pigs with African swine fever affecting all 31 autonomous regions and provinces within just nine months, trimming 20% of the national supply and driving up prices.”

First, China is not going to starve because they lost twenty percent of the country’s pigs, because the Chinese eat a lot more than pork. I’m a vegan and have never had a problem finding a variety of plant foods to eat when visiting China.

Second, Smart Cities Dive reports, “How China Leads the World in Indoor Farming. China is investing significant amounts of effort into developing vertical farming systems to feed its burgeoning urban population. It aims to become a world leader in industrial scale applications of these systems.” …

“Compared to conventional farming, a plant factory with natural solar light can increase productivity per unit area by between two and ten times. With artificial light, this rises to 40 times and by adding vertical farming this goes to 1000 times.”

To learn more, read what Next Shark.com reveals about China’s high-tech indoor farms where “5,000-square-meter (53,819-square-foot) indoor space, produces eight to ten metric tons of vegetables DAILY while requiring only four staff members to manage it. Conventional farmlands would require about 300 farmers to produce the equivalent amount which can feed almost 36,000 people.” …

“The smart farming method involves a strict system that regulates temperature, water source, humidity, nutrients and LEDs that replace sunlight in a confined indoor space. Such regulations allow the firm to significantly save on water, granting each plant only the right amount it needs.”

If bugs, African swine fever, and global warming continue to threaten China’s domestic food supply, how fast will it take China to convert most if not all of its outdoor farms to these high-tech indoor farms?

The answer can be found in China’s high-speed rail network. China’s first high-speed train service was introduced in April 2007. Twelve years later, China has the longest high-speed railway network in the world, 18,000 miles in length, two-thirds of the world’s total, with plans to increase it to 24,000 miles by 2025.

How does China’s high-speed rail development compare to the rest of the world?

Well, the first high-speed rail system started operating in Japan in 1964, and it took the rest of the world 55 years to build one-third of the world’s high-speed railroads. The United States only has one high-speed rail line linking Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC, but those bullet trains cannot take advantage of their maximum speed because some sections along that route are old rail lines that cannot safely support trains moving 150 mph.

When China needs to, it can move fast. For instance, the Chinese government made high-speed rail construction a cornerstone of its economic stimulus program in order to combat the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis and the result was a rapid development of the Chinese rail system into the world’s most extensive high-speed rail network. China moved up its timeline when twenty million Chinese lost their factory jobs because of the global financial crises … and let us not forget that the United States was responsible for that crises due to old fashioned capitalist greed.

One day, pork might not be on the menu in China, but there will still be plenty of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and if I can survive for thirty-seven years as a vegan, the Chinese can do it too.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


China does not need MAGA Man’s United States

May 22, 2019

Once MAGA Man, the Deplorable Serial-Liar Donald Trump declared a tariff war with most of the world, China started looking for other markets to buy the same products it has always bought from the United States.

For instance, “China’s soybean imports from the United States plunged to zero in November, marking the first time since the trade war between the world’s two largest economies started that China has imported no U.S. supplies,” CNBC said, “Instead, China has leaned on Brazilian imports to replace the U.S. cargoes, customs data showed on Monday.”

About 120-million Chinese work in manufacturing but China’s total workforce is estimated to be almost 800-million and a lot of what is made in China is also sold to Chinese consumers, and Industry Week says, “China’s export share of its gross domestic product has fallen from 37 percent in 2007 to slightly less than 20 percent today, an important outgrowth of a decade-long rebalancing.” (reported on April 2018)

Because of the explosive growth of China’s middle-class over the last thirty years from no middle class to more than 400-million, China doesn’t have to rely on the U.S. market as much as it once did. That’s why China is in a stronger position to give MAGA Man the middle finger and tell him to “F” off.

In fact, China is already doing it by being passive aggressive. To achieve this, China is punishing his supporters by threatening their businesses and/or jobs.

“Over the summer,” The New York Times reported, “the Chinese took aim at Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. In his home state, Kentucky, 18,000 jobs depend on whiskey. So they (China) put a 25 percent tariff on it. Representative Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker, is from Wisconsin, a leading producer of cranberries. So cranberries were added to the list, for good measure. And China went after pork and soybeans, two of the leading farm products in Iowa, home of Charles E. Grassley, a powerful member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

The Financial Times also reports, “China is shifting its growth model to one relying more on consumption … In 2000, US consumption levels were 13-times larger than China’s but are now only three-times larger and the gap is closing. … The plausible assumption, however, is that over the next decade a mass consumer society will emerge in China. This will begin to approach that of the US in scale …”

In addition, The Chicago Tribune says.  “A Chinese-owned pork producer is eligible for federal payments under President Donald Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout, a program that was established to help U.S. farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war with China.” That means when China buys American pork, they are really buying Chinese pork raised and butchered in the United States. And that isn’t the whole story. According to AXIOS, “Chinese investors and firms own (the) majority of 2,400 U.S. companies.”

Oh, and MAGA Man means Moscow’s Agent Governing America. MAGA has nothing to do with Making America Great Again and everything to do with destroying the United States. Since that is obvious to China’s leaders, they are already adapting by finding goods in other countries that they once bought from the U.S.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


How do you Define Freedom: Part 2 of 2

April 25, 2019

Slavery in China vs India, the democracy next door.

The Wall Street Journal reported, Of the 167 countries surveyed, India has the highest number of people living in slavery–more than 18 million, or 1.4% of the population. The 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation said modern slavery comes in many forms, from domestic to sexual to bonded and child labor. China has only 3.4 million slaves or 0.24-percent of the population. India, a democracy, has more than five times the number of slaves that China has.

USA Today reports, “There are 40 million slaves worldwide, most are women and girls. A United Nations agency warns 40.3 million people across the globe were subject to some form of modern slavery in 2016. Among them, about 28.7 million — or 71% — were women or girls forced into sex, marriage or labor.”

Freedom to Travel to Other Countries

Then there is the freedom to travel to other countries, but you have to have enough money to afford to become a globe-trotting tourist. The Economist reports, “China’s decision to let its people travel abroad freely is changing the world. … for much of the 1980s, the number of trips abroad taken by Chinese citizens was in the tens of thousands a year, the current figure is well over 130-million annually.”

For a comparison to the world’s two largest democracies, The Times of India said, “In 2015, more than 20.4-million Indians had the money to visit other countries.”

How about the United States? The PointsGuy.com said, almost 67-million US citizens traveled outside the country in 2015.

Food Production
How do you feed 1.4 billion people using only 10-percent of your land?

National Geographic.com reveals, “Sweeping reforms starting in the late 1970s have transformed China from an isolated, centrally controlled economy into an increasingly market-oriented juggernaut. Agricultural and industrial modernization has fueled continuing migration to cities, rising incomes, and a growing appetite for a more westernized diet among China’s 1.4 billion people. … Economic and food-production reforms have helped China’s growing population double its supply of daily calories.”

When U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry, who was born a free man to a successful family, never lived in poverty and never starved said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” did he mean freedom of speech was more important than living in slavery, poverty, starving, and/or going without medical care?

Improving Education in China

“After Deng (Xiaoping) took over in China (in 1978) and initiated a series of market-oriented reforms that led to explosive economic growth, the nation set out to reach parity with the West in education at every level—a truly daunting goal, given the very high rates of illiteracy in China, the extent of the prior destruction of its education infrastructure and teaching force, and the depth of poverty in this very rural nation.”  China’s agenda to improve its educational system at every level does not mean replacing public schools with private sector corporate charter schools that profit a few individuals like what has been happening in the United States for the last few decades. Instead, China has worked hard to improve its public schools from kindergarten through college. – Not replace them with public funded corporate schools.

In fact, Statista reports, “During the school year of 2017/18, over 363-thousand Chinese students were studying in higher education institutions in the United States.”

If China’s leaders were afraid of their people learning how to think for themselves, why allow them the freedom to attend colleges and universities in the United States and Europe?

The leaders of the United States seem to have forgotten: “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson – 1820

Return to or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


What came first the soybean or tofu?

January 16, 2019

The answer to the question in the title is simple. Soybeans came first. Tofu-making was first recorded during China’s Han dynasty more than 2,000 years ago. Chinese legend credits its invention to Prince Liu An (179–122 BC).

We learn from Soya.be that “Soybeans originate from China. In 2853 BC, Emperor Sheng-Nung of China named five sacred plants – soybeans, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. Soybean plants were domesticated between 17th and 11th century BC in the eastern half of China where they were cultivated into a food crop.”

And Eating China reports, “But while those ancient farmers had discovered a new food source, only their descendants, almost 1,000 years in the future would begin to fully understand the nutritional value of the soybean. The long history of domestication resulted in a great variety of upright hardy soy plants that do well in a wide range of soil and weather conditions. The main types of soybeans are categorized by seed color: green, black and by far the most common, yellow, the variety that inspired the bean’s other name, Yellow Legume, Huang Dou.” …

“Making soy milk was one of the early methods. Soy milk is nothing more than a milky liquid that results from boiling and mashing whole beans, so we can assume that it was not long before soy milk was ‘invented.’ Initially it may have been eaten as bean meal soup. Even today in China soy milk remains a drink that is processed and consumed in simple ways, though it is often sweetened and occasionally salted.”

I can attest that fresh soy milk in China is much better than most soy milk you buy in supermarkets in the United States. When visiting China, I get up early to go to the nearest market that makes fresh soy juice and buy it without sugar or sweetener added. There is no comparison. It’s warm. It’s fresh. It’s China. It’s different from the genetically altered, American, factory-farmed soy juice sold in American markets. That stuff is “yuk” and I don’t touch it.

I’ve even made tofu chocolate pie at home. The Chinese invented tofu, but I was introduced to Chocolate Tofu Pie at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa, California. Then I figured out how to make it at home by experimenting. You may find the recipe HERE.

Then there is stinky tofu, another of my favorites. When visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same shop, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with peppercorn sauce that’s spicy hot enough to make me sweat.

Medical News Today.com says, “Tofu is made from soybean curds. It is naturally gluten-free and low in calories. It contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of iron and calcium.” It is also an important source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. “It also contains isoflavones such as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones may have both estrogen-agonist or estrogen-antagonist properties. These may help protect against some cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis.”

Then there are the health benefits from soybean sprouts. Livestrong.com says, “Even though you can sprout seeds from any type of bean, the two most common types are mung bean and soybean sprouts, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Bean sprouts give you an easy way to boost the nutrients in your diet. Toss them onto your salad, use them in a sandwich or add them to soups and casseroles, and you’ll quickly increase the amount of protein, B vitamins and vitamin C.”

In fact, the Chinese learned how to sprout beans on their sailing ships to protect Chinese sailors from scurvy long before the west discovered that vitamin C prevented the disease. Our Everyday Life.com says, “Soy bean sprouts, which are germinated soy beans, have been used for human consumption for more than 5,000 years.” Just one of the benefits: “Soy bean sprouts provide the B vitamin, folate, which is essential for the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. One cup of raw soy bean sprouts has 120mcg of folate. Adults need 400mcg of folate daily, according to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. Soy bean sprouts are also a source of vitamin C and pantothenic acid.”

Soy bean sprouts were not the only source of vitamin C for ancient Chinese sailors. Asian cultures have relied on fermented cabbage to survive long winters between fruit seasons for thousands of years. Kimchi, sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, was historically used during winter to stave off vitamin deficiencies, while early records show workers building the Great Wall of China ate fermented cabbage regularly when fruit was not available.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China