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China may ban US pork

The Chinese government yesterday launched a counter-offensive on product quality controls, threatening a ban on imports of US pork and calling for a worldwide drive to improve health and safety standards. This is because US pork products may contain ractopamine, a growth hormone that is banned in China but not in the US.

Chinese officials are to send two separate delegations to the US to discuss mounting concerns about safety controls following a series of scares over food, drugs and toys exported from the country. The scandals culminated this week in the US company Mattel’s decision to recall 18 million toys made in China and sold worldwide following warnings they may contain faulty magnets on which children could choke.

The first of the Chinese delegations will arrive in Washington this month to meet the US Food and Drug Administration, Zhao Baoqing, a spokesman for the country’s American embassy said, to be followed by a second round of talks in September with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

However, Mr Zhao warned the Chinese government would not accept suggestions that lower production standards in Asia are the only problem area that such talks should cover. “I would like to say that the question of food safety and quality is a question for all the countries in the world,” he said. “It is not just a question for individual countries.”

Chinese officials are desperate to prevent a global backlash against exports from the country and have already introduced a series of measures designed to reassure trade partners.

In particular, the Chinese exports department has begun random testing of goods from industries including food and electronics, and also begun relaxing restrictions on journalists seeking to report on the manufacturing sector.

Last month, the former head of the Chinese food and drug safety agency was executed following a corruption scandal and officials have also launched a campaign urging manufacturers to more closely scrutinise the activities of sub-contractors.

Nevertheless, the scandals have encouraged some Western politicians to step up calls for much tighter controls on imports from China.

Christopher Dodd, the Democrat senator from Connecticut, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, even called for a ban on Chinese imports yesterday. “Parents should be confident that the toys and food they give their children have been inspected and are safe,” he said. “I am calling on the President to use his authority to immediately suspend all imports of toys and food from China.”

Meglena Juneva, the European Union’s Consumer Protection Commissioner, also called for greater vigilance on export standards. The EU already has a system through which each member state is required to notify the Commission of product recalls so that other countries can consider whether to follow suit. The Commission also has powers to ban products sourced from countries or firms implicated in several scandals.

However, widescale bans on imports from China would almost certainly provoke a trade war with the West, with serious consequences for both sides. Trade between China and the US alone is expected to be worth $500bn (£252bn) a year by 2010.

China has already warned it is considering a ban on pork imports from America, on the grounds that some products may contain ractopamine, a growth hormone that is banned in China but not in the US. A similar ban could be imposed on chicken feet and other agricultural produce.

The pork sector could be the first flashpoint in escalating trade disputes between China and the West. China’s concerns about US hormone treatments are mirrored by increasing anxiety among Western producers about an outbreak of the potentially fatal blue ear disease in Asia. Though Chinese officials say the outbreak is under control, the authorities have had to cull tens of thousands of pigs.

By David Prosser, Deputy Business Editor, The Independent UK, 17 August 2007

Book – Sprouts and Sprouting

Sprouts and Sprouting

Published by Grub Street
ISBN 978-1-904943-90-7

This is a wonderful book that explains everything you ever wanted to know about sprouting your own sprouts from seed, and how to use sprouts creatively to flavor every type of recipe.

Regularly eating sprouts can have a dramatic effect on your general health and wellbeing. Clinical research has proven that sprouts support human immunity, improve digestion, and help prevent serious diseases such as cancer. Packed with micro nutrients,

Split into an introductory section and a recipes section, this book has stylish and modern photography, including appetizing recipe shots and practical step-by-step guides.

The introduction explores the nutritional benefits of different kinds of sprouted seeds and grains. There’s a comprehensive section about different store-bought germinators, a guide to easy sprouting using an empty glass jar, and a guide to every kind of sprout you can imagine, including alfalfa, black radish, sunflower, fenugreek, dill and adzuki.

The author seems to relish her subject, enthusiastically sharing her personal experiences with sprouting, whether it’s to let you know that a particular kind of seed is difficult to sprout (carrots) or to share her penchant for a particular flavor (dill).

There are 70 vegetarian recipes split into 8 different sections:

* Appetizers
* Soups and veloutes
* Sauces and dressings
* Raw dishes
* Main dishes
* Cheese
* Desserts and fruit
* Grass juices

The bias for this collection is modern whole food cooking. There are plenty of ideas for daily treats, but the recipes don’t stop there. Fennel Coulis With Buckwheat Sprouts would be a lovely addition to a more formal meal, and Stewed Apples Stuffed With Sesame Sprouts is absolutely heavenly. Try sprinkling fennel seed shoots onto cubes of yellow melon, or making a simple salad of sprouted red lentils drizzled with walnut oil and seasoned with salt and ground cumin.

Book – A Slice of Organic Life

A Slice of Organic Life

Published by Dorling Kindersley
ISBN 978-0-7566-2873-4

This book is a wide-ranging compendium of everyday ideas for a greener lifestyle. Edited by the wife of the founder of the UK’s Ecologist magazine, A Slice of Organic Life is a rough beginner’s guide to organic lifestyle.

The focus is firmly on the home and home garden, with some great ideas for window boxes, homemade cleaning products, eco-gifts and composting. Find out how to make your own wood floor polish out of beeswax. Learn how to distinguish edible wild mushrooms from poisonous fungi.

Get inspired to create a wildlife pond in your backyard, and while you’re outside, there are beginner’s tips for raising pigs, keeping a milking cow, tending a flock of ducks and even choosing a hive to keep a colony of honey bees.

The organic culinary ideas are simply written and very practical. The recipes are scattered throughout the book, and are all very basic and user-friendly. My favorites are the simple recipes for sauerkraut, strawberry jam, flavored oils, and goat’s cheese from scratch.

This is a fantastic book for sparking ideas, although it’s very much in a magazine style. By this, I mean that the ideas are generally first thoughts on a subject. For example, the section on bee keeping is a beginner’s guide in six pages. If you truly want to keep bees, you’ll need a whole book dedicated to the subject before you’re ready to get started.

Overall, this is a great gift book for someone who loves all things organic. Good clean design coupled with nice modern photos, it’s a good book from a good publisher.

Living close to the land

My significant other and I have a 77 acre farm near Bloomington, IN. 4 acres are devoted to organic farming with wonderful results. My significant other is an Indiana University professor, however, his love his is garden. People love to come to visit and learn. We sleep in the back of our pick up truck in our garden to be close to the presence of the creatures who want to come to eat. We enjoy sleeping next to our garden to feel the energy of the vegetation. I am excited about finding your website, and look forward to sharing and learning from others as well.

Shel

Chrysanthemum tea from Hong Kong

chrysanthemum tea

My friend Mary Beth is one of the top fit models in Los Angeles. Her derrière is the basis for most of the designer jeans now gracing the finest behinds around the world. As such, Mary Beth is often transported to far flung capitals in order to model the very latest fashions. Recently, she was flown to Hong Kong, and during that trip she found a fantastic quality chrysanthemum tea. The big fresh dried flowers are slightly moist with resins, and pungent with the scent of chamomile mixed with honey. The big daisy-like flowers swell when drenched in boiled water, releasing their powerful liver-cleansing magic. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, chrysanthemum tea is deeply cooling for the body. It purifies the blood and detoxes the liver, and is great as an after-dinner tonic. It is wonderfully relaxing and helps clear the head of unwanted thoughts. So I’m delighted Mary Beth gave me a nice big jar, as well as some fabulous puer tea. More on that later…

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