Food Production in South of China
The agricultural trends in south China have been of major importance in the nation since time immemorial. As a matter of fact, China is one of the chief producers of food in the global arena. From the ancient days of human civilization the Chinese masses have been very active in agricultural processes such as crop irrigation and utilization of animals such as cattle in farming. As is to be expected, therefore, the dietary culture of the Chinese has been one that is primarily composed of grains. In the modern day the staple food of most South Chinese remains grains, with meat being the occasional supplement. Grains are therefore responsible for more than three quarters of the carbohydrate energy found in diets of the South Chinese people. After cereals, vegetables and fruits make up most of the food culture in this part of the world followed by milk and related products and finally eggs, fish and the other forms of meat. Another well known aspect of the dietary patterns in South China is the utilization of chopsticks in place of forks, spoons and knives. Foods like longan, peanuts and Chinese dates are the traditional foods that soon to be parents to wish them luck.
Nabhan (2002: 22-27) asserts that there is a need for people to consume more locally produced food. In his piece of writing he mentions that they once ate food that had travelled miles to reach them and exchanged hands more than six times! It is this strong inclination towards local food that caused Nabhan’s great revulsion by the occurrences that he went through at the Casino. The food that was served at the restaurant included those from France, Sicily, Italy and Cuba; there was absolutely nothing from Lebanon. The location, topics of discussions and recreational activities that are associated with meal time in South China are also very relevant. We can clearly perceive that the discussions that occurred over the meal at the casino about political issues such as taxes were very offensive to Nabhan. Unlike the Lebanon dances, singing and shouts described by Nahban (24), the Southern Chinese masses rarely cause such commotion during meal times; this is more so if the people at the table are from different age groups.
Just like Nabhan, many, modern day families have taken a keen interest in the foods that they eat; this is especially so due to the increased occurrence of obesity as well as other diet related health complications. Those with the ability to do so have even resorted to growing their own food so as to make sure that they eat food that is as fresh as possible.
The South Chinese people are very proud of their culture; consequently, they tend to prefer their traditional food more than they do international diets. The most widely known Chinese food, the cuisine, is a mixture of the traditional culinary habits of the Chinese Han people in addition to many other diet cultures collected from various cultures. The value attached to dietary patterns by the South Chinese people goes past the dietetic value of food to its ability to provide the eater with happiness and good luck. In addition to this, unlike other cultures the South Chinese people do not necessarily attach time frames to the foods eaten; this implies that one can eat whatever they want for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
In his essay Nabhan (2002: 17-27) is very pertinent in his evaluation of the discrepancies that exist between local and international foods. In the first chapter of this piece of writing, Naban describes the culinary experience he had in Lebanon; despite the fact that he had had a wide variety of foods in the past, it is then that he realized the importance of food in an individual’s interaction with their family as well as the environment. In Southern China people have particular mannerisms when they eat; firstly, visitors in any house, or guests taken out to a restaurant for any meal should never eat before their host invites them to, after a few words of pleasantries and greeting. Behaving contrary to this would imply rudeness and disrespect. In addition to this, the elders are treated with utmost respect. As a consequence of this, Southern Chinese people practice their old age tradition in which the elder people at the table are served first and allowed to eat of the choice delicacies; the younger people can then eat their fill.
In conclusion the perceptions of food and how it is consumed vary from one Southern Chinese to the other. Nevertheless, all of them believe that more than the nutritional value of food, the dietary patterns that are adopted by a person ought to increase their happiness as well as their well being. In addition to this, they foods also ought to be healthy especially for the elderly. As stated by Nabhan (2002: 17-27) local food is also more preferable to international ones.
Gary Paul Nabhan: ‘Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasure and Politics of Local Foods’ Norton:
New York, (2002) Pages 17-27