For the Center for Investigative Reporting, PRI’s Mary Kay Magistad reports on the economic and political implications of China’s rising demand for meat, with China now producing and consuming half the world’s pork:
Mindi Schneider: Now that many people who have the income to do so can buy meat every day if they want to, there’s this idea that they’re eating meat in revenge, and it’s revenge against a past of sort of poverty and scarcity and what felt like struggle, and it symbolizes progression.
Reporter: But this is creating a huge challenge for the Chinese government. China has almost a fifth of the world’s population. But it has just 9 percent of the earth’s arable land and a chronic shortage of water. Both are needed to raise and feed livestock. So, how to provide so much meat and dairy to so many people?
One answer: Modernize.
These cows at China Modern Dairy get music piped in while they get milked on carousels. This year, as many as 100,000 cows will be shipped to China from Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay and packed into facilities like this.
And these pigs live snout by jowl in enclosed buildings, where visitors are only permitted to view them remotely to prevent the spreading of disease. They belong to the Chuying Company, a major player in China’s industrialized farming boom.
One of the major issues facing China’s food industry is food safety, with a number of scandals making it a major topic of public concern in recent years. In a related report for PRI’s The World, Magistad profiles blogger Wu Heng, who focuses on food safety issues. Listen here: