Chengdu-Expat explains where to source organic food in Chengdu.
The market for organic food in China has taken off in the wake of food safety scandals and environmental concerns. Buying organic offers a more reliable provenance whilst countering the negative environmental impacts of industrialised agriculture; (runoff from excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides is a major source of water pollution).
The National Organic Certification offers official accreditation for organic food, ensuring products meet growing and supply-chain standards, and accreditation is reviewed annually. Those selling organic produce (有机) should be able to produce proof of accreditation. Free range meats are usually referred as 土. Other terms such as ‘eco’ (生态) and ‘green’, (绿色) can and are used much more loosely. ‘Eco’ foods are often produced by small-scale farmers who use natural fertilisers and pest control methods but can’t afford to pursue certification. However this lack of certification inevitably makes it much harder to establish if produce is truly organic (something only truly establishable through farm visits). In the circumstances produce is described as ‘eco’ or ‘green’ it’s best to seek further clarification from vendors.
Organic food is widely available in Chengdu, although you should expect to pay at least double the price for the privilege. Below is guide to the easiest places to source organic food from in Chengdu.
Supermarkets are probably the most obvious place to source organic food from. Foreign supermarkets such as Auchan, Carrefour, Isetan and Ito Yokado have organic sections as do many local high-end supermarkets (such as Ole’, BLT and Wangfujing). Xidan Market in Jinsha is said to have a good organic section in the back corner of the supermarket, with organic meats, vegetables, eggs and milk. Be careful to double-check the item is actually in the organic section rather than merely adjacent to it.
Here’s a few addresses:
- Isetan, Lidu Plaza, Chunxi Rd., Jinjiang District 锦江区春熙路利都广场
- Ole’, Mix C City Shopping Mall, No.8 Shuangquing Road 双庆路8号华润万象城商场B1层
- BLT, Sunken Plaza of 9 Square Mall, Fuchengdadao and Yizhou Ave, North Section 高新区府城大道中段88号九方购物中心B1楼
- Ito Yokado, 6 Yidu Rd., West Sect.1, 2nd Ring Rd. 二环路西一段逸都路6号
- Ito Yokado, Jinhua Rd., East Sect.5, 2nd Ring Rd. 二环路东五段锦华路
- Ito Yokado, 8 Dakejia Ln., Hongxing Rd. 红星路大科甲巷8号
- Auchan, 98 Shuhan Rd. 蜀汉路98号同善路口
- Auchan, 9 Zhanhua Rd. 站华路9号
- Auchan, 1, Sect. 2, Huafu Ave., Huayang Town 华阳镇华府大道2段1号
- Carrefour, 2-3/F, Fortune Bldg., 6 Daye Rd. 大业路6号财富中心2-3楼
- Carrefour, 162 Datiankan St. 大田坎街162号
- Carrefour, 99 West Sect. 1, 2nd Ring Rd. 二环路西一段99号
- Carrefour, 1 Babao St.八宝街1号, 86254735; 10 Xinguang Rd. 新光路10号
Direct from Farms
Chengdu city is surrounded by small farms. It’s not unusal for organic farms to operate direct to consumer models in which customers sign up for regular deliveries of fresh seasonal produce from a specefic farm. A benefit of buying organic produce locally instead of from foreign supermakets is that it helps reduce your carbon footprint (foreign supermarkets often import their organic produce). Futhermore, in establishing a direct link with a farm you can be more certain of your food’s origin. In some cases its even possible to visit the farms in person.
Anlong Village is an example farm. Wholly organic the community farm has also cooperated with the Chengdu Urban Rivers Association to clean up the neighboring Funan River. Abandoning chemical pesticides and fertilisers in favour of natural alternatives (such as the planting of mint around the border of plots) avoids the negative impacts of agricultural run-off. With CURA’s aid the village established wetlands adjacent to the river planted with specialised filtering plants to treat greywater (i.e. contaminated water). The adoption of other sustainable farming practices such as multicropping (planting a plot with mutiple species, meaning that should disease hit one crop the overall plot remains viable) and composting have further bolstered the farm’s green credentials. It should be noted, due to cost, the co-op have not however pursued official organic accredition. The Co-Op’s “Healthful Vegetable Delivery” service (健康蔬菜陪送) delivers fresh produce to 80+ pick up points throughout urban Chengdu, and all vegetables cost the same (irrespective of type, time of year or place of collection).
In addition to organic fruit and veg its posrasible to get your hands on organic meat in around and Chengdu. Aquaselect are completely unique in China: Their fresh salmon is raised with no antibiotics, no additives, and no hormones and all come from a sustainable source. Pollution levels are monitored and the feed provided to the fish is from a sustainable source. The fish are killed to order so they’re as fresh as possible.
Here’s a list a of a few farms:
- Anlong Village, Ande Town, Pi County, 15828581360 (in the village, the Gao family are the representives of local organic farming).
- Sunshine Earth Organic Farm, Xingyi Town, Xinjin County, Chengdu
- Jiutian Family Farm, Lianyu Village
- Jinqiao Town, Shuangliu County, (028)8572-3085, 13808002921
- Wenjingyuan Organic Farm, Qiquan Town of Chongzhou City, (028)8238-0478,400-612-5700
- Chengdu Sunyuki Organic food Co., has product bases in Dujiangyan, Shuangliu, Pengzhou, Jintang and Xichang, 400-6828-300.
In today’s day and age of course one can always order organic produce online. Several farms offer an online ordering services.
Hygeia is a farm whose web platform offers imported organic produce alongside the produce from their Shuangliu farm. Availability of products rotates with the season and their subscription service is available for regular deliveries. Although the subscription fee is initially seems quite high the service’s flexibility and value for money is apparent over time. A first trial gift basket provides potential customers the perfect oppurtunity to check out Hygeia’s service before committing to a subscripion. Unfortunately for non-Chinese speakers the website is only in Chinese. Sunyuki is another Chengdu based agri-business with mutiple farms in the region growing fruit and veg and raising livestock. Organic tea, grain and seafood from elsewhere can also be bought on their website. Although their website is in chinese its illustrated well and easily navigable. Each product is coupled with a description, detailing a product’s origin and the methods used in raising it’s prooduction (letting you doublecheck its organic credentials). Produce is picked fresh on order. Chengdu-based iGarden, which also runs a supermarket, has IFOAM certification and thus all its organic produce meets an international standard arguably more stringent than the current national standard. Their website is also in Chinese but, once again, easily navigable. With mutiple types of subscriptions available a short one month subscription gives you the chance to check out their service.
For those interested in similar articles, click here for a List of Vegetarian Restaurants in Chengdu or here for an article on Social Enterprises in and around Chengdu.