Organic vs. Local Milk in Hong Kong

Taking a break from the usual is also a good thing to do when it comes to food choices. Too often we can get into a rut of eating the same fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. Even the products and brand names are repeated over and over again. One of the advantages of moving to a new country is that you are forced to re-evaluate all of the foods that you are eating. [There is only so much healthy shopping one can do at Gateway!] As well, because the familiar is completely absent, the need to make an educated selection becomes even more essential; and it becomes a good time to evaluate our choices, from an: environmental, nutrtional and “resilience” farming perspective.

Happy CowIn Hong Kong, the only Organic milk is imported from Australia or Canada. So, from an environmentally-sustainable perspective does it make sense for me to be drinking organic milk that is shipped in from so far away? Or should I be purchasing the milk produced right here in Hong Kong? I need to consider the greenhouse gases that are emitted during transportation. Yet, I have discovered that transportation is in fact responsible for only 1/10 of the greenhouse gas emitted during food production. 

Rather than considering the greenhouse gas load, I turn to a concern with the farming practices used on the farms in each country. Paul Roberts, author of The End of Food, writes of the “resilience” factor: how sustainable are the farming practices over the long-term? Roberts explains that the farming land mass required to produce organic food is much greater than other methods of farming. As well, often feed and fertilizer for organic farms needs to be shipped in from overseas, thus adding to the environmental and financial cost of producing organic food. On the other hand a study from the UK states http://www.i-sis.org.uk/OAMCC.php that organic food is much less energy dependent and CO2-contributing.

So then, is Organic food only for the elite few who can afford the price and can afford the land mass required? Roberts professes there is a middle of the road; where food is grown locally, in inner-city warehouses or “vertical farms” http://www.verticalfarm.com/ , using minimal pesticides (this would a system closed to unwanted pests) and using appropriate amounts of fertilizer.

My dream is for a happy food source, happy: farmers, produce, workers, transporters and happy cows who love the food they are producing. As in the book, Water for Chocolate, http://blog.freshlevant.com/2010/06/intentional-cooking-with-love.html the mood and intention of the chef (and farmer?) dictates the effect of the food on the consumers body. Back in the 90s I worked with Happy Planet Juice company (I supplied them with web hosting and email addresses) – that’s what I am talking about, happy food http://www.happyplanet.com/. So if anyone knows of some happy cows in the Hong Kong area, please, let me know. Cause happy cows make me happy and make more milk! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2009/01/29/2009-01-29_happy_cows_produce_more_milk_study_finds.html

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One thought on “Organic vs. Local Milk in Hong Kong

  1. Good article. Agree totally. There used to be a trappist monastery on Lantau and their brand is still around, but I suspect by all the cows on the loose in Lantau that they folded and set the cows free, and that the milk is suurced from who knows where. If you want, we can go over there one day , and round a few up. I will hold the cows, whilst you milk them.

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