Erenlai - 按日期過濾項目: 週四, 15 十一月 2007
週四, 15 十一月 2007 23:09

Taiwan's first organic farmer's market

[dropcap cap="W"]hen he returned to Taiwan with an American Ph.D. and began teaching agriculture at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Ray Tung never guessed he would go on to establish Taichung’s first organic farmer’s market. He taught his students as his professors had him — that agricultural chemicals in the appropriate amounts do no harm. [/dropcap]A student came up after class one day to ask why he wasn’t considering that even if applied in safe doses, those chemicals accumulate in the soil, the riverbeds, and even the human body — until they reach levels where they do cause harm. A farmer may apply herbicide to his orchard only twice a month. But that’s 24 times a year. This student was a farmer and invited Ray to come see his organic farm.
It turned out to be a big surprise. Ray saw that organic farming wasn’t just about putting no dangerous chemicals in the soil and the water and no poisons in the food supply and the body. It boiled down to an issue of basic integrity: Do we care more about profit or about the health of the environment and the value of human life?

Thus began Ray’s decade-long odyssey to the many small-scale organic farms in the mountains and in the countryside all around the city of Taichung in central Taiwan. He got to know the farmers, learned from them, and began buying and using their products. At that time an organic trend was sweeping the agricultural market in North America, Europe, and even, to a lesser extent, Taiwan. Upscale consumers demanded farm products without poisons and large-scale agri-businesses began supplying them to supermarkets.

In Taiwan small-scale organic farmers didn’t really benefit from this. Even though their locally-grown produce was superior in freshness and quality to what the big companies delivered to supermarkets, these farmers didn’t have the marketing skills or the distribution networks to compete. Ray got a sense that in this he might step in and make a difference. He suggested setting up an organic farmer’s market in Taichung. The farmers said it wouldn’t work.

Everything Ray knew about organic food and the value of organic practices for the environment and for human health he learned from the small farmers, not from any teachers, professors, or agricultural experts at any of the universities he’d attended. He saw these farmers as a resource not just to provide chemical-free food products to upscale urban consumers — but to educate the broader public as they had him about an entire way of life that was wholesome and regenerative to the individual and the rural landscape. The big businesses supplying the supermarkets, in contrast, were just concerned with turning out an agricultural product as cheaply as possible that fit the organic specifications. It was Ray’s genius to see that the unique advantage of the small farmer would present itself in the face-to-face setting of a farmer’s market; and the farmers, in such a situation, could become an agent for change. He never gave up on his dream of the organic farmer’s market. But for ten years it didn’t happen.

Then, last Fall while on sabbatical in Tampa, Florida, he went around looking at farmer’s markets in Florida. They got him all fired up. When he returned to Taiwan his mind was decided. He begun reaching out to the organic farmers to let them know he was going ahead with that old dream of his. He invited them to a preliminary meeting to work out the specifics.

At one farm, the farmer’s wife was furious at him. “Because of you my husband turned this onto an organic farm,” she lashed out. “Now look at us. We’ve become a poor family. The neighbors ridicule us.”
“She’s going to divorce me,” the farmer confided sadly to Ray. “The neighbors have got these ideas into her head. She says I’ve betrayed the family for some stupid idea of mine that doesn’t make any sense.”

Ray invited them both to the meeting. To his surprise the wife came. Almost sixty farmers and their families were in attendance. The mix included vegetable farmers, fruit farmers, tea farmers, and rice farmers. Ray noticed the man’s wife listening in surprise as the stories poured out on all sides.

Farmers told how they initially turned organic after seeing their parents poisoned and crippled for life by farm chemicals. Taiwan’s small farmers in years past were uneducated people of low socio-economic status. They didn’t know better than to trust the fast-talking salesmen who came around promoting agricultural chemicals. Then, even when it became apparent that the chemicals did real harm, farmers kept using them because they knew of no alternative.

Other farmers poured out their stories about how organic farming takes time compared with conventional agriculture because it involves improving the quality of the soil and the environment. It may take a few years just to get started. They told how it’s not just about the immediate financial reward, but about leaving the land and surroundings better for the next generation than the last generation left it for us.

There was talk how in rural Taiwan there used to be all kinds of snakes, frogs, fish and birds. At night, a naked light bulb attracted a cloud of moths, beetles and flying insects. No more. So many living things had been poisoned and are not seen anymore. Taiwan has the highest rate of liver cancer in the world. In places the island is turning into a wasteland. It was once named for its beauty.

As the meeting broke up Ray happened to catch sight of the man’s wife and could see the change in her and in the way she was with her husband. She laughed and smiled and had made lots of new friends — individuals that unlike her ignorant neighbors could make her understand what her husband was trying to do and why.

Ray saw that this dream of his wasn’t just about marketing these farmers’ fresh organic produce in Taichung, and it wasn’t just about educating city dwellers to a new and more wholesome lifestyle. It was perhaps most importantly about community building. He scheduled a succession of other planning meetings. Then, in April he sent out the final invitations to join Taichung’s first organic farmer’s market. Of the initial sixty farmers, only thirty-three attended the opening of the market in September.

A representative from one of Taiwan’s big agri-businesses approached Ray with a desire to be part of the market. If that company had a booth at the market they would staff it with salespeople hired just to sell vegetables, individuals who wouldn’t themselves have undergone the change in consciousness that occasions a shift to the organic lifestyle the small farmers had undertaken, sometimes at considerable expense to themselves and their families. Ray turned the big company down. It wasn’t what he wanted for the market. He wanted the people of Taichung to have the chance for a face-to-face encounter that might possibly let them see — organic food is not just about fruits and vegetables that are free of poisons. It’s not just about a product that meets organic specifications. It’s about a change in lifestyle, and a change in consciousness — a way of living that doesn’t damage the environment or other people and is wholesome all around.

These farmers had lived isolated lives on their small farms, tending their land and crops, largely out of contact with each other and any larger community. Now they arrive at the market early every Saturday morning, energetic and excited to see each other and connect with all the different people thronging the stalls, asking questions, and buying things. One really does get the feeling at the market that the farmers have come not just for the money, but to feel part of a larger community that cares about the same things they do.

Many Saturdays in the first early morning rush around 8 a.m., when the market is at its busiest, some farmers sell out. Instead of packing up to leave, they stay the whole rest of the morning, socializing with farmers at other booths, assisting them with the customers, answering questions, and sharing their enthusiasm about the wholesome way of life they’ve chosen, and its benefits.

The market is held on the campus of Taichung’s National Chung Hsing University. It peaks early, between 8 and 9, but goes on until noon. A walk among the stalls and a talk with some of the farmers is enough to give a whiff of hope that environmentally-ravaged Taiwan might yet be turned back into the pristine paradise it once was.

Ray is always there, walking from stall to stall, talking with everyone — a big smile on his face. It’s not many men who can say as he can, that their dream has come true.

(Photo by B. Stimson: Dr. Ray Tung, the founder of Taiwan’s first organic farmer’s market, which takes place every Saturday morning on the campus of Taiwan’s National Chung Hsing University in Taichung)

週四, 15 十一月 2007 21:34

Asia needs more maturity

Asia’s big growing economies need to gain maturity to lead Asia’s development
Businessmen and politicians act at different levels
When you are a businessman, you go where the opportunities are, wherever the country is situated in the world. Recently, more and more Taiwanese are investing in the newly opened markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Capitalism teaches you, in a globalize world, to be ready to cooperate with countries, even if you do not agree with their national system. In this sense, economic exchanges go beyond political barriers, but do not promote political integration. Governments use economic cooperation to maintain their position in the foreign affairs of that country. Through economic exchange, Taiwan tries to ensure other countries will not attack the country, even though they do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It is a political game.

Culture travels without borders
TheTaiwanese adopt with a special ease other habits and life styles of other cultures, especially the ones from developed countries like Japan or the United States. I am ethnically Chinese, but I am also a local Taiwanese whose culture has changed and evolved through the stages of national development since the 1970’s. I use a very cultural approach to define my identity, and I can hardly say I am an Asian, because I would need to understand more the Hindus before I can assimilate with them. I think it is because we do not communicate enough with them that we think we are different. To improve common understanding, Asians should read and travel more.

The strong economies in Asia are not mature enough to form a union
Europe could successfully build the European Union because there were stable and strong developed countries which could lead its construction, such as France and Germany. They were even able later to support developing economies of other European countries. In Asia, the economic development of the two major powers in Asia, India and China, is a new phenomenon and they need more time to grow mature and learn to work together. It is a necessary pre-condition to think about establishing a union. Japan is geographically too small to lead, and Southeast Asian governments are too unstable. The current crisis in Myanmar illustrates this problem. In this situation, I think we cannot realistically think of building any union in the next twenty years.

Taiwan could be the ‘Asian Brussels’ to hold the headquarters of the Asia Union institutions
Because Taiwan fails to establish diplomatic relationships with other Asian countries, the country needs to be given a strategic role to convince the people to invest money and efforts in constructing an Asian Union. Taiwan is a stable and developed country, at the border of South and North East Asia. I believe Singapore would pretend to play this role as well. However, I believe if Taiwan is given this opportunity, it could also help to ease the tensions between the island and China. Everyone wishes one’s home country can develop and gain more power on the regional scene. I think Asia can face the Western powers only through cooperation which could be achieved in the form of a union, involving for example the two leading economies of China and India..

Wish for Asia in twenty years:
There are many latent conflicts in Asia. Perhaps if they could all be resolved as soon as possible in twenty years, there will be no more political tensions and Asia will be able to establish the basis for the construction of a peaceful union.


Attached media :
週四, 15 十一月 2007 19:17



2007 年暑假,我们又再度来到熟悉的羊圈,一群来自成都、台湾、法国与美国的志工,已经是连续第七年聚集于此。由于准备的计画一直在改变,出发前几个月是有一点混乱的,但最后一切都顺利…










週四, 15 十一月 2007 19:12



2007 年暑假,我們又再度來到熟悉的羊圈,一群來自成都、台灣、法國與美國的志工,已經是連續第七年聚集於此。由於準備的計畫一直在改變,出發前幾個月是有一點混亂的,但最後一切都順利…















« 八月 2020 »
星期一 星期二 星期三 星期四 星期五 星期六 星期日
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

目前有 12194 個訪客 以及 沒有會員 在線上