Eating Bird Nests

September 28, 2016

The idea of eating soup made from bird saliva gives me the shivers. However, there is a history behind this Southeast Asian delicacy and there may be health benefits but also some degree of danger for a few people.

Myths say the Chinese have been eating bird saliva for 1,500 years since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). But another myth says China’s most famous eunuch, Admiral Zheng Hi, brought these nests made from bird saliva back to China in the 15th century.

What we do know for sure is that the Chinese have been making soup from imported swiftlet nests from Southeast Asia for centuries.

A few comprehensive scientific studies in Asia and China in the 1990s revealed that this particular bird saliva appears to play a crucial role in major normal cellular processes and may help resist the effects of aging.

However, the Malaysian Society of Allergy and Immunology reported that for a few people there is a major risk of an allergic reaction after eating Bird’s Nest Soup that might cause death.

To be fair to the birds and their saliva, eating peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, shellfish (Medical Daily), and getting flu shots (CDC) can also end in allergic reactions with severe symptoms for a few.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review Updated August 26 - 2016_edited-2

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What Peanut comes with Health Benefits – boiled or roasted?

September 20, 2016

The first time I tasted boiled peanuts was in China in 1999. Since I was used to oil-roasted, salted peanuts, it took time for me to acquire a taste for the Chinese way of boiling peanuts.

Although archeologists have dated the oldest known domesticated peanuts to Peru about 7,000 years ago, it was Portuguese traders in the 17th century that introduced peanuts to China.

Peanuts became popular and are featured in many Chinese dishes, often being boiled, which enhances the health benefits of the peanut.

What scientific studies have proven about the boiling process is that peanuts prepared this way are preserved and the presence of phytochemicals are enhanced having the same qualities as antioxidants, which are noted for protecting the body’s cells against heart disease, diabetes and several different forms of cancer. – Live Strong.com

In fact, a 1990 Harvard study determined that women who ate five ounces of more of nuts per week were only 65 percent as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease as women who avoided eating this legume.

Another study in 2007 at Alabama’s A&M University’s Department of Food and Animal found that the health benefits for boiled peanuts were far healthier than oil-roasted, dry or raw. The states of Florida, Mississippi, George, Alabama, and North and South Carolina also have a tradition of eating boiled peanuts.

The Chinese boiling process brings out and enhances the health benefits of the peanut, and the Chinese eat more boiled peanuts than any country on Earth.

Perfect Insider.com reports that, China leads the world in peanut production with 18.7 million metric tons (one metric ton is 2,205.62 pounds). India is in 2nd place with 6.8 million metric tons. The United States is 3rd with 4.1 million.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s challenge to preserve its arable land

September 7, 2016

Arable land is where countries grow the food people eat. According to Nation Master, the U.S. has 174.5 million hectares (one hectare is almost 2.5 acres) of arable land, India has almost 160 million hectares, Russia almost 122 million, but China has less than 105 million (almost 40 percent less than the U.S). The trouble with that is that China has more than 1.3 billion people to feed compared to America’s 320 million.

Then there’s the water. Live Science.com reports that after 3 days, you’ll need water or you’ll die, but you can survive for 3 weeks without food.

To make China’s challenge more daunting, it almost has the same amount of total renewable water that the U.S. has at 2,813 billion cubic meters vs. 2,818 for the U.S.

Don’t forget that China has more than four times the people to feed.

That’s why it is vital that China protects as much arable land as possible while conserving water. That challenge is tough because almost one third of China’s land is desert — a process that has accelerated due to development and human activities. The deserts of China have also become a tourist attraction and that doesn’t help.

In addition, another third of China is mountainous with an additional 10% covered with hills. Combine deserts, mountains and hills and that accounts for about 70% of the country’s land surface.

One strategy to slow the spread of the deserts has been to create a grid of plant growth that will hold the sand in place. The Economist reported that since 1978, 66-billion trees have been planted by Chinese citizens with the goal that by 2050, there will be a forest stretching 2,800 miles along the edges of China’s northern deserts that will increase the world’s forest cover by more than a tenth.

However, due to the natural resources needed to fuel China’s growth and a huge population, northern China has become a boomtown and is attracting millions of people because of the opportunities to earn better money. At the same time herders have also been restricted from allowing their animals to graze on the areas that are being reclaimed from the desert.

This has caused a reduction in the size of herds, for instance, sheep and goats.

Yet, even with these challenges, China still produces more food than any other country on the planet. Agriculture is a vital industry in China, employing over 300 million farmers. China ranks first in worldwide farm output, primarily producing rice, wheat, tomato, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed and soybeans. Although accounting for only 10 percent of arable land worldwide, it produces food for 20 percent of the world’s population.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Long Love Affair with a Root

July 6, 2016

Ginseng is a dried root that the Chinese believe possesses magical powers because it’s shaped sort of like a little person.

My wife often cooks with ginseng. She slices the ginseng thin and it goes into the wok with what she is cooking—tofu, cabbage, edamame, Bok Choy, etc.

The Chinese also use Ginseng as a powerful herbal medicine.

At one time, modern scientists rejected these claims, but recent research shows it does help the body resist illness and heal damage caused by stress by stimulating the immune system.

I’ve never taken the herb for its healing properties, but I like what it does for the taste of food.

Ancient Ginseng History reports that ginseng was used as an herbal medicine over 3,000 years ago and in cooking as far back as 5,000 years. Chinese emperors valued ginseng enough to pay for the herb with its weight in gold.  In America, ginseng was also used by several North American Indian nations.

In fact, some Chinese are willing to pay a very high price for older ginseng roots. Business Insider.com reports that one ginseng root from a plant that lived for 65 years in the wild was going for more than a half million U.S. Dollars, because some buyers think roots that lived in nature for a long time are much more potent than farmed ginseng that costs a lot less.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man who unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu

March 29, 2016

China has a unique food culture compared to the West. For instance, my wife loves noodles. I’ve followed her down narrow Shanghai streets to a well-known won-ton and noodle shop on the corner of Chang-le and Shang-yang Road. The front is open and the ceiling low with each narrow table crowded with Chinese sitting on small chairs shoveling noodles in with chopsticks.

My wife orders a small bowl of noodles with peanut sauce for me and a bowl of blood soup and another bowl of noodles with spicy hot Sichuan peppercorn sauce for her.  As she eats, sweat beads her face but there is not one word of complaint—not one sign that she is suffering. Instead, this seriously satisfied look spreads across her face as if she has entered a Chinese noodle heaven.

When visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same food shop where my wife orders steaming hot noodles with the same peppercorn sauce, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with the same sauce that causes me to sweat too.

At celebration feasts, a wider variety of food will be served from whole fish, crab, a variety of vegetable dishes and tofu.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 2 of 2

December 23, 2015

If you read Part One of this two part series, you are probably thinking it isn’t safe to eat in China so you will stick to American food.

However, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Struggles with food safety are not a specifically Chinese problem. Many countries, including the U.S. and Japan, have gone through similar growing pains in the food industry, says Wu Ming, a professor at Beijing University’s school of public health.”

Professor Ming is correct. Down to Earth.org reports, “Every day in the US about 200,000 people become sick, 900 are hospitalized and 14 die (that’s more than 5,000 annually) due to food borne illnesses (and few if any people are punished for these deaths). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one quarter of the American population suffers from food poisoning each year.”

It’s just business as usual and those food deaths are collateral damage on the way to making profits.

New U.S. Laws for food safety cover all food except meat, poultry and some egg products and there are other exceptions too. In fact, the CDC.gov reports, “Every year, about 48 million of us, roughly one in six people in the United States, get sick from eating contaminated food—it could be you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, or other loved ones.”

And if you believe China is not doing anything about food safety, think again. I Googled “arrests in China for food safety”.

The first hit for 2014 from Food Safety News reported, “Chinese Police Arrest More Than 100 People for Selling Contaminated Pork.”

In 2013, The Guardian reported, “China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal.”

In addition, the U.S. is no saint. Sustainable Business Forum.com says, “Unlike the U.S., China arrests Food Safety Violators.”

Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News.com recently reported, “Current statutes (in the U.S.) do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws,” said Leahy, who has become an outspoken advocate of food safety reform. “Knowingly distributing adulterated food is merely a misdemeanor right now, and the Sentencing Commission has found that it generally does not result in jail time.”

In conclusion, if you are in the food industry in China and want to take short cuts regarding food safety to boost profits while possibly killing people along the way, the United States is a safer place to commit murder while making a profit, because in China, you might go to prison and even be executed.

Return to or Start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 1 of 2

December 22, 2015

In 2011, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Ink, dye, bleach and toxic chemicals … have been found recently in food products in China, reigniting fears over food safety despite repeated government pledges to crack down on tainted eats.”

Sounds bad, but don’t judge China before reading this entire two-part series to discover that China is not alone in the struggle to make food safer to eat.

It isn’t as if China’s government is not trying to improve food safety. In 2011, Al-Jazeera’s Melissa Chang reported from Beijing about China’s government vowing to improve food safety laws. In fact, according to Melissa Chang, more than 2,000 people across the country were arrested for failing to meet food safety standards.

The Wall Street Journal said, “One of the biggest issues is the drive to make a buck at any cost, says Lester Ross, a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm Wilmer Hale. Some companies see that by using additives, they can cut overhead costs or boost profit margins, and they merely aren’t thinking about the affects the additives will have on consumers, Mr. Ross says.”

Melissa Chang demonstrated how a chemical sauce to turn meats such as pork into beef can change any meat that isn’t beef into beef so the enterprising capitalist can charge more and increase profits.

Is that capitalism at work?

Since living in China means awareness of such trickery, “Many Chinese,” Chang says, “pay a premium to know exactly where the food they eat comes from.”

Chang then talked about an organic food cooperative in the suburbs of Beijing, which was established by families to buy directly from organic farmers and the project was successful.

However, Chang said, “Even the best intentions (may) go awry.” Organic in China doesn’t mean the food would qualify as organic outside of China since so much of the air and water is polluted there.  It is a challenge to grow quality produce.  Achieving better standards will take years.”

What about food safety in the U.S.? Continued on December 23, 2015, in Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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