Other Chinas- How Did Chinese Farmers Feed the Cities

For almost 5000 years, Chinese farmers and farming have been the main role of Chinese society and farmers adopt a life style called self-sustaining, meaning they produce almost all food and clothing for themselves by raising animals and growing crops in a fine ecologically sustainable circulation. Most likely the only thing they needed to exchange from the outside was salt.

I was born in the 1970s in the distant village of the mountains in Southern Central China, where part of Avatar was shot. I have 4 elder sisters and 2 elder brothers.

My whole family had around 0.5 acres land for rice paddy, our staple food. We harvested around 0.6 tons rice for the year. Yet we were supposed to submit around half the harvest, as far as I remember, to the government. Those food I assumed were transported to the city to feed the citizens in different part of China.

Apparently, the storage of staple food was not enough to feed my big family of 9. So naturally hunger became the in-erasable memory for my childhood. We then had to turn to other options like sweet potatoes or pumpkins. And that accounts for my dislike of sweet potatoes or too much pumpkins now.

Now I have the chance to talk to peer friends who grew up in the cities like Shanghai and have learnt that most of them could have enough to feed their stomachs during that time. I am happy because my families’ contribution to the city may have also helped some of my friends to grow up! I mean for farmers we had the chance to find some substitutes for the staple food in the forest and nature but that was definitely impossible for people living in the cities.

Now we do have sufficient food to feed all the population and my son and daughter never have to repeat the starving experience of my childhood. Still I tell my son and daughter that they need to respect food and appreciate the farmers’ great contribution to us as apparently without food we cannot survive.

Fred Young for Vivereliquido.it