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Green Living in Hong Kong

  1. #1
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
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    Green Living in Hong Kong

    Hi all,

    There has been some different threads surrounding issues of substandard goods and food from China. One of the threads (in the news & issues section of this site) turned into a non-acrimonious discussion of where to buy organic food. So, after posting there I decided to start this new thread. For people to discuss where to buy organic foods and more earth-friendly products.


    1) Organic Food
    - The Hong Kong Organic Farmers Association has a website that lists its farmers' markets:
    http://www.hofa.org.hk/english/farmer_market.html

    They also have courses and some of the members, like at "The Organic farm" rent out plots and lend expertise to allow you to grow your own http://www.organic-farm.com/grow_my_own.htm

    There is a shop in Sai Kung called "The Green Earth Society" that sells lots of non-toxic cleaners, pain, etc. It's in the square near the Ali Oli bakery and the SPCA.

    I'll add more as I think of things.

  2. #2
    mailmail is offline Registered User
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    Loupou,

    Thank you so much for sharing info with us all. I have never bought any organic produce and wonder if you could give me a mini crash course related to this. These are the queries I have:-

    (1) I assume organic produce are more expensive than non-organic, so it seems in the supermarkets or are there exceptions?

    (2) Are there any taste difference between organic and non-organic? Will organic ones taste blend?

    (3) I have heard once from someone that if you raise a child feeding him exclusively on organic food, the kid will get weaker day by day as he won't gain immunity from what are (germs, insecticide et al) in non-organic food (which you normally get in restaurants). Is there any truth in this?

    (4) I live smack in the city, I wonder if you know of any organic farmers/firms that do deliveries.

    (5) How about meat? Is there a healthier alternative to normal chickens, pork and beef we can get from the wet markets/ParkNShop/Wellcome?

    Thanx tonnes!
    Mailmail

  3. #3
    wintermom is offline Registered User
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    Organic v. Conventional v. Local

    Dear LouPou & Mailmail,

    This is a great thread and a timely topic for Hong Kong. I am pleased to see that there is a quite a good variety of organic products available, at varying costs of course, including produce and packaged goods.

    I have not been able to find out what the specific concerns are about the fresh local produce, such as that sold in the Wan Chai market. There is a belief that eating fresh, in-season, local produce strengthens the immune system and adapts it to the local environment. It is also so much cheaper to buy at the markets. BUT what sorts of pesticides and soil toxins are used in this area, how does the pollution affect the vegetables? How much does impact does soaking in veggie wash for 15 minutes have?

    I am looking forward to joining the Organic Farm for weekly home delivery, and it looks like they also have brown rice. I have been buying a mix of organic and when the local stuff looks very fresh, I buy that and wash it well. Just wondering if anyone has specific information about local produce.
    Last edited by wintermom; 08-24-2007 at 06:30 AM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
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    Hi Mailmail & Wintermom,

    I am not a big expert. There are contrversies over whether or not organic food is healthier for humans than non-organic. Some researchers say "No"
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quackery...s/organic.html

    Others say, yes.
    http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/ab.../organicis.htm

    The Agriculture & Fisheries Dept. has information on organic farming in Hong Kong
    http://www.afcd.gov.hk/english/agric...r_orgfarm.html

    It also depends on one's definition of "organic" and what is used. For example, for thousands of years all over the world, human waste was used as fertilizer. This is "organic" - but you would have to wash your veggies very carefully. :)

    "organic" meat may mean that the animals are fed on orgnic feed, or (in the case of beef cattle) are "grass fed" on non-pesticide sprayed grass.

    I generally take "organic fruits and vegetables" to mean that they are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Therefore, the vegetables my family grows on our rooftop are not completely organic, because in addition to compost & some things we add to the soil, we also sometimes use a commercial fertilizer that we buy at the flower market. But, we don't use pesticides.

    As for how much good soaking for 15 minutes or so will do, how much pesticide exposure comes from eating various vegetables grown in various locations - there are lots of people studying such things.

    For example, searching the Pubmed database for
    "pesticide residues human hong kong" I found this article:

    *************
    Wong CK, Leung KM, Poon BH, Lan CY, Wong MH. (2002). Organochlorine hydrocarbons in human breast milk collected in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
    Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. Oct; 43(3):364-72.
    PMID: 12202934 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Abstract:
    In southern China, the awareness of persistent organic pollutant contamination has been increasing as a considerable number of past studies in Hong Kong had reported their trail in the coastal sediments, green-lipped mussels, muscle and viscera of pond fish, and foodstuffs. Hence there is an urgent need to assess their existence, contamination profiles, and potential impact on the public.

    In the present study, a survey was conducted to examine p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE, beta-HCH, and PCB concentrations in human breast milk, one of the most reliable bioaccumulation indicators. Milk samples (115 from Hong Kong and 54 from Guangzhou), in the lactation period from 3-5 weeks were analyzed.

    The results demonstrated that the mean levels of p,p'-DDT (Hong Kong: 0.39; Guangzhou: 0.70 microg/g of fat), p,p'-DDE (2.48; 2.85), and beta-HCH (0.95; 1.11) were 2-15-fold higher when compared with studies conducted elsewhere ( i.e., United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and Canada), and in contrast the concentration of PCBs (0.035; 0.031) was about 10 times lower.

    When compared to a similar study conducted 10 years ago in Hong Kong ( p,p'-DDT 2.17 microg/g of fat, p,p'-DDE 11.67, beta-HCH 15.96, and PCB 0.64), a considerable reduction in the levels of their contaminations was observed. The drastic reduction in body burdens in 10 years' time is presumably the result of effective regulatory actions. It is worth noting that body burden correlated positively with maternal age (total DDT, r = 0.93; beta-HCH, r = 0.91; PCBs, r = 0.77) and with historical record of seafood consumption (total DDT, r = 0.89; beta-HCH, r = 0.98; PCBs, r = 0.91) (p < 0.001) and potential uptake of the POPs by breastfed infants may pose adverse health hazards.

    *******

    So, HK is worse for DDT than many western countries - but much better for PCBs & the amount of DDT in the local food appears to have gone down between 1992 and 2002.

    What does that mean about the food choices I make? Not much. I mean, I need to eat & so does my family & nothing is pure and perfect and guaranteed to cause no harm.

    I try to purchase fruit & vegetables food grown locally (in HK and Southern China). Mostly it's because I think fresher is better (when possible) and also I'm a little concerned about "food miles" and also think it's safer/better to support local agriculture wherever I live.

    When I lived in the USA I would often prefer to buy local vegetables over the ones imported from California, because I wanted to support our local farmers & keep those agricultural systems intact. But that was decision making based on political and economic ideas and beliefs, not based on "is this best for my health, or the health of my family?" - although (if pressed) I would say "in the long run, it is healthier for my family and community to have a vibrant local agriculture sector."

    It's the same reason I prefer to patronize our local wet-market when I buy fruits and veggies - because I want to support & maintain local entrepreneurs (the market stall people), rather than the shareholders of ParknShop & Wellcome - when I can.

    Finally - fairly reliable source of information in Hong Kong is the Consumer Council.

    You can visit their website and do searches
    http://www.consumer.org.hk/

    Here, for example I found a press release from 2006 saying their study shows that traditional cleaning w/ tap water is still best for removing contamination.

    http://www.consumer.org.hk/website/w...es/p36201.html


    You can also visit the Centre for Food Safety (a govt. department)


    Wow, too much. I better stop now.
    http://www.cfs.gov.hk/cfs_indexe.html

  5. #5
    mailmail is offline Registered User
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    Wow, so much info!!! I am going to read them all one by one. Thank you so much Loupou!

  6. #6
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
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    Environmental Organizations in HK

    Friends of the Earth - Hong Kong
    http://www.foe.org.hk/

    Go to the subsection "Green Links" and you can find a large number of other organizations:
    http://www.foe.org.hk/welcome/greenlinks_gg_en.asp

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