Changing Rice Bowl: Economic Development and Diet in China
The book deals with a topic of perennial interest to Chinese and non-Chinese alike: Chinese food. Chinese culture is exceptionally food-oriented, and non-Chinese are curious about what Chinese people in China actually eat, as contrasted with meals in ever-popular Chinese restaurants. Furthermore, foreigners have long received the impression that Chinese people are inadequately fed, but the picture today is considerably more complex. At its best, the Chinese diet is among the world’s healthiest, and access to adequate, nutritious food has made enormous progress in recent years. The content of the Chinese diet and its nutritional adequacy vary over space, not only in the vastness of China but even within one province. All these strands, examined after the end of food rationing opened new choices to Chinese consumers, are portrayed in a text that is easily accessible to the general public and that is supplemented with maps, graphs, and photographs. Beginning with background concepts in nutrition, culture, and economic development, the book proceeds to describe foods that Chinese traditionally eat and the farming system that has produced them for hundreds of years. It then gives an overview of rural-urban contrasts at the national level. A summary geography of Liaoning Province in China’s northeast provides background for the detailed study of the dietary regime in a sample of households at five sites within the province. The book concludes with some suggestions of possible future implications of the findings.
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