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Thread: Chinese food

  1. #61
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    Been wondering about this trend

    Chinese Restaurants Are Closing. That’s a Good Thing, the Owners Say.
    The share of Chinese restaurants has fallen in metro areas across the country in the last five years. Many owners are glad their children won’t be taking over.


    A selection of dishes at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which has been serving dim sum since the early 20th century.Credit...Colin Clark for The New York Times

    By Amelia Nierenberg and Quoctrung Bui
    Dec. 24, 2019

    415
    阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版
    KINGSTON, N.Y. — More than 40 years after buying Eng’s, a Chinese-American restaurant in the Hudson Valley, Tom Sit is reluctantly considering retirement.

    For much of his life, Mr. Sit has worked here seven days a week, 12 hours a day. He cooks in the same kitchen where he worked as a young immigrant from China. He parks in the same lot where he’d take breaks and read his wife’s letters, sent from Montreal while they courted by post in the late 1970s. He seats his regulars at the same tables where his three daughters did homework.

    Two years ago, at the insistence of his wife, Faye Lee Sit, he started taking off one day a week. Still, it’s not sustainable. He’s 76, and they’re going to be grandparents soon. Working 80 hours a week is just too hard. But his grown daughters, who have college degrees and well-paying jobs, don’t intend to take over.



    Tom Sit has cooked in the same kitchen for 45 years, making Chinese-American dishes and putting his own spin on the recipes.Credit...Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    Across the country, owners of Chinese-American restaurants like Eng’s are ready to retire but have no one to pass the business to. Their children, educated and raised in America, are pursuing professional careers that do not demand the same grueling labor as food service.

    According to new data from the restaurant reviewing website Yelp, the share of Chinese restaurants in the top 20 metropolitan areas has been consistently falling. Five years ago, an average of 7.3 percent of all restaurants in these areas were Chinese, compared with 6.5 percent today. That reflects 1,200 fewer Chinese restaurants at a time when these 20 places added more than 15,000 restaurants over all.

    Even in San Francisco, home to the oldest Chinatown in the United States, the share of Chinese restaurants shrank to 8.8 percent from 10 percent.

    Chinese restaurants are losing ground in metro areas around the country
    Share of restaurants in metro areas that are ...
    Chinese
    2%
    4%
    6%
    8%
    10%
    2014
    2016
    2018
    Chicago
    Miami
    New York City
    San Francisco
    Washington
    Indian
    2014
    2016
    2018
    Korean
    2014
    2016
    2018
    Vietnamese
    2014
    2016
    2018
    Source: Yelp
    It doesn’t seem that interest in the cuisine has faltered. On Yelp, the average share of page views of Chinese restaurants hasn’t declined, nor has the average rating.

    And at the same time, the percentages of Indian, Korean and Vietnamese restaurants — many of which were also owned and operated by immigrants from Asian countries — are holding steady or increasing nationwide.

    The restaurant business has always been tough, and rising rents and delivery apps haven’t helped. Tightening regulations on immigration and accounting have also made it harder for cash-based restaurants to do business.

    But those are not Chinese-restaurant-specific factors, and do not explain the wave of closings. Instead, a big reason seems to be the economic mobility of the second generation.

    “It’s a success that these restaurants are closing,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, a former New York Times journalist who wrote of the rise of Chinese restaurants in her book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” and produced a documentary, “The Search for General Tso.” “These people came to cook so their children wouldn’t have to, and now their children don’t have to.”

    The retirements of the restaurant owners also reflect the history of Chinese immigration to the United States. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act halted what had been a steady rise in people coming from China. It was not revoked until 1943, and large-scale immigration resumed only after 1965, when other race-targeting quotas were abolished.

    China’s Cultural Revolution, an often violent social and political upheaval that started in 1966, prompted many young people to emigrate to the United States, a country that projected an image of freedom and economic possibility.


    Eng’s opened in 1927 in Kingston, N.Y. Here’s how it looks now.Credit...Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    Mr. Sit left Guangzhou, in southern China, in 1968. He hiked, climbed and swam his way to Hong Kong, filling his pants with pine cones as an improvised flotation device.

    “There was just no future,” he said. “The only way to get freedom and to get a good job was to go to Hong Kong.”


    In a family scrapbook, Mr. Sit pasted calendar entries with the dates he left Guangzhou and arrived in Hong Kong. He considers June 21, the day he climbed out of the sea, an unofficial birthday.Credit...Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    In 1974, he immigrated to the United States and started working at Eng’s, which opened in 1927. Although he had never worked in a restaurant, the heat from the woks was much less intense than what he experienced at a Hong Kong plastics factory where he had worked.

    Unlike Mr. Sit, some immigrants had been chefs in China. They served Hunan and Cantonese foods on linen tablecloths to bejeweled, curious diners at places like Shun Lee Palace in New York.

    “There was the golden age of Chinese cooking in America, starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” said Ed Schoenfeld, a restaurateur and chef who has worked in Chinese restaurants since the ’70s. “We started getting regional practitioners of fine regional cuisine to come to this country and do their thing.”


    At Eng’s, they make their egg rolls thick and crisp, packed with celery instead of cabbage.Credit...Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    Mostly, though, the newly minted chefs cooked quickly and cheaply. They adapted their method of cooking to American tastes, developing dishes like beef chow fun, fortune cookies and egg drop soup, often brought home in the signature takeout containers.

    “They were not precious,” Ms. Lee said. “These people did not come to be chefs; they came to be immigrants, and cooking was the way they made a living.”

    Other immigrant groups follow a similar pattern. With social mobility and inclusion in more mainstream parts of the economy, the children of immigrants are less likely than their parents to own their own businesses.

    More economically mobile immigrant children are less likely to be self-employed
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  2. #62
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    Continued from previous post

    Change in the self-employment rate between first- and second-generation immigrants
    +5%

    Britain

    El Salvador

    More self-

    employment

    Honduras

    Yugoslavia

    Poland

    Philippines

    Spain

    Iraq

    Panama

    Chile

    Austria

    Mexico

    Guyana

    Ecuador

    Haiti

    China

    Canada

    Laos

    Jamaica

    Portugal

    Germany

    Japan

    Thailand

    France

    India

    Colombia

    Hungary

    Hong

    Kong

    Peru

    Cuba

    Brazil

    Egypt

    -5%

    Cambodia

    Vietnam

    Italy

    Nigeria

    Ireland

    Argentina

    Netherlands

    Israel

    Lebanon

    Pakistan

    -10%

    Greece

    Taiwan

    Less self-

    employment

    Iran

    -15%

    South Korea

    45th

    pctile.

    50th

    pctile

    55th

    pctile

    60th

    pctile

    65th

    pctile

    Average income rank for boys from poor families

    MORE ECONOMIC MOBILITY

    Source: Analysis of Current Population Survey by Robert Fairlie, UC Santa Cruz, “Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants Over Two Centuries,” Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Elisa Jacome and Santiago Perez.
    “In some ways, the children are regaining the status of the first generation that they have lost while migrating,” said Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and co-author of “The Asian American Achievement Paradox.” (She is not related to Jennifer 8. Lee.) “The goal has never been to continue those businesses.”

    When they do become entrepreneurs, these children tend to work in industries like tech or consulting, rather than in food service or nail salons.

    Most common fields for self-employed immigrants
    In first generation
    CHINA INDIA SOUTH KOREA VIETNAM
    1
    Restaurants

    Computer Services

    Restaurants

    Nail Salons

    2
    Construction

    Trucking

    Health

    Beauty Salons

    3
    Computer Services

    Grocery Stores

    Education

    Construction

    4
    Nail Salons

    Consulting

    Dry Cleaning

    Restaurants

    5
    Consulting

    Gasoline Stations

    Insurance

    Shoe Repair

    In second generation
    CHINA INDIA SOUTH KOREA VIETNAM
    1
    Computer Services

    Consulting

    Consulting

    Construction

    2
    Dentistry

    Computer Services

    Physicians

    Beverage Mfg.

    3
    Arts

    Insurance

    Legal Services

    Legal Services

    4
    Consulting

    Real Estate

    Admin. Support

    Restaurants

    5
    Education

    Landscaping

    Travel

    Real Estate

    Source: Current Population Survey, 2015 through 2019
    In the past decade, some members of the second generation have also chosen to take charge of family restaurants. Nom Wah Tea Parlor, a New York dim sum restaurant that opened in 1920, has stayed a family business: first run by the Choy family, then the Tangs.


    Wilson Tang took over Nom Wah Tea Parlor from his uncle in 2011, and has since expanded to more locations.Credit...Colin Clark for The New York Times

    The 41-year-old owner, Wilson Tang, left a career in finance to succeed his uncle in 2011. Initially, his parents balked at his decision.

    “As immigrants, it’s the only thing you can do; if it’s not restaurants, it’s a laundromat,” Mr. Tang said. “For me to choose to go back to owning a restaurant? That was tough for them to accept.”

    Since then, Nom Wah has expanded: to another Manhattan location, to Philadelphia and to Shenzhen, China. On any given night, groups of guests wait for a table outside the Chinatown location for up to an hour, huddled in the bend of Doyers Street.

    “I had this unique opportunity to preserve something that was from old New York,” he said. “I still work extremely hard. But I also know how to use marketing tools, like the internet.”

    In a parallel effort, the team behind Junzi Kitchen, a fast-casual Chinese restaurant chain based in New York, recently raised $5 million to research and buy places like Eng’s, rebranding them with Junzi’s modern take on the cuisine.

    “They are still going to have their usual beloved Chinese takeout services, but we are providing an upgraded version of that,” said Yong Zhao, the founder and chief executive.

    But family-run Chinese restaurants are typically not being passed to the next generation. Some may close up shop, sell their businesses to other first-generation immigrants or move on and see their former storefronts become something else entirely.


    Faye Lee Sit and Mr. Sit are both in their 70s and thinking about retirement, but don’t want to trust just anyone with the restaurant.Credit...Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    Mr. Sit has not yet found the right person to run the restaurant, and has no immediate plans to close. “To take over Eng’s, you have to keep the heart in Eng’s,” he said. “You need to have a loyalty to the business, not just someone who thinks, ‘I’ll make one year, two years of money, I don’t care.’”

    Ms. Sit feels more ready to retire than her husband. Normally talkative, he can be evasive whenever the family tries to bring up a successor.

    “They’ll have to work hard,” she said, her eyes sparkling as she teased her husband, “like Tom Sit. Maybe then he’ll let them take over.”

    If he ever actually does hand Eng’s to someone else, Mr. Sit will miss his customers, and miss running an operation.

    But he is proud of what he built. He is proud that his daughters, American-born educated professionals, are working jobs they have chosen, jobs they love.

    “I hoped they have a better life than me,” he said. “A good life. And they do.”



    Correction: Dec. 24, 2019
    An earlier version of this article misstated the year Tom Sit immigrated to the United States. It was 1974, not 1976.

    Amelia Nierenberg is a reporter on the Food desk. @AJNierenberg

    Quoctrung Bui is a graphics editor and covers social science and policy for The Upshot. He joined The Times in 2015, and previously worked for National Public Radio covering economics and everyday life. @qdbui
    The graphs didn't copy well. You'll have to follow the link if you want to see them properly.
    Gene Ching
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  3. #63
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    msg


    © 2019 MEL MAGAZINE
    FOOD Andrew Fiouzi 2 weeks ago
    THE RISE AND FALL AND RISE AGAIN OF MSG

    You probably know monosodium glutamate from its link to so-called ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ — and that’s precisely the problem

    I’m a casualty of the MSG subterfuge. I was fooled more than a decade ago — when I was still an impressionable high school student in the suburbs of L.A. In “the valley,” the main street — Ventura Boulevard — was beset by sushi spots, weed dispensaries, and of course, a bevy of Chinese restaurants.

    Some of these were hiding in strip malls behind beige signs and tinted windows, while others stood alone, clear, beneath the glow of a neon-lit sign, one of its letters sometimes burned out — an easy tell that the food was worth the wait. My favorite, The Plum Tree Inn, boasted an aquatic experience in the form of a tank that housed lobsters that could be delivered to your table — all you had to do was order the special. I loved it there.

    Until, that is, the anti-monosodium glutamate lobby told me that if I loved myself, I shouldn’t love those places anymore.

    For the uninitiated, monosodium glutamate, more commonly (and ominously) known as MSG, is a chemical compound often used to enhance the flavor of food. It’s kind of like salt, only supercharged. “In 2002, the discovery of the umami taste receptor officially established umami as the fifth basic taste,” explains Taylor Wallace, a food scientist at George Mason University. “MSG combines sodium (like that in table salt) with glutamate, the most abundant amino acid in nature and one that provides umami, a savory taste.”

    So despite its unsettlingly scientific moniker, MSG is nothing more than sodium mixed with one of the 20 amino acids crucial to the human body. “MSG is glutamic acid, which is an amino acid that, when it forms a salt with sodium, changes to glutamate instead of glutamic acid,” says Wallace. “And so, if you think about it, your body is made up of many essential amino acids, one of which is glutamic acid.” As per John Mahoney’s 2013 BuzzFeed article on MSG, we consume this substance in three different ways: Through proteins that contain glutamic acid; foods like Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, seaweed or soy sauce; and lastly through MSG itself — “of which the FDA estimates that most of us eat a little over a half a gram of every day,” according to Mahoney’s article.

    But the decades-long hysteria around MSG has largely ignored the facts above, and indeed its history, which — though easy enough to uncover — isn’t widely known. The substance was originally discovered by Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1907, after he noticed a common flavor between foods like asparagus, tomatoes and the broth his wife made with seaweed. “Ikeda was as enterprising as he was curious, so soon after his discovery, he refined and patented a way to produce pure glutamic acid, stabilizing it with a salt ion to create what we now know as monosodium glutamate,” reports Mahoney. “He called the company he founded to produce MSG Ajinomoto (‘the essence of taste’), thus forever linking umami, the taste, with glutamic acid, the chemical. It remains one of the largest producers of MSG in the world today.”

    But despite being created by a Japanese chemist, MSG would, as we all know, gain notoriety in the U.S. due to its association with Chinese-American cuisine. “A lot of it has to do with political, social and cultural trends that were happening in the 1960s,” says journalist Thomas Germain, who has previously written about the MSG debate for the Columbia Undergraduate Research Journal. “So at the beginning of the 1960s, a writer named Rachel Carson published a book called Silent Spring, which is about the dangers of pesticides and chemical companies.” Carson’s book, says Germain, spurred an idea “that became really popular in the U.S.” — namely, that chemicals and additives that are made artificially are inherently dangerous and able to harm you in mysterious ways. “You don’t even realize it’s happening,” Germain says in summary of the book’s main takeaway about pesticides. “It can be invisible, almost.”

    Germain continues to say that just a few years later, in 1968, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok — a then-recent Chinese immigrant — wrote a letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, stating that he got headaches when he ate in Chinese restaurants, but didn’t get them with his own home cooking, reasoning that the culprit might be MSG. “Almost immediately, this idea caught on and it just exploded,” says Germain.

    Compounding this, Germain notes in his article on MSG that, in 1969, a different study showed a “causal link” between MSG, headaches and CRS [Chinese Restaurant Syndrome]. “That same year, Washington University’s Dr. John Olney published an article in Science which found that mice dosed with MSG developed brain lesions, stunted skeletal growth, obesity and female sterility,” writes Germain. “A few years later, Olney published a new study that found similar defects in infant primates.”

    As Wallace points out, though, these rat studies were highly medically problematic, with rats being given an IV injection of MSG at levels far above those you’d ever experience with your food. Even had those studies been more realistic, he adds, they still wouldn’t necessarily be relevant. “We do a lot of rat studies at George Mason, but the bad thing about rat studies is, it’s only about 10 percent of the time they translate to what actually happens in humans,” he says. “It’s kind of like how chocolate is a neurotoxin in dogs, but we can all eat chocolate and we’re just fine. It’s the same thing with rats.”

    A similar example, according to Wallace, occurs in studies on saccharin. “If you drink 20,000 Diet Cokes a day for 15 years, maybe it’s detrimental, but who’s going to consume that level of it?” he says. “And when you have an intravenous injection, that’s completely different than what happens when you digest something and it’s broken down and then absorbed.”

    Beyond the dubious nature of these studies, there’s also the simple fact that MSG isn’t unique to Chinese food — it’s in everything from Campbell’s soup to Doritos to Ranch dressing, not to mention that it’s naturally found in, for example, kelp. So why, then, did Chinese restaurants shoulder the brunt of the MSG hysteria?

    “At the base of it, it’s really xenophobia that’s been passed down,” says food and travel journalist Kristie Hang. “MSG is found in so many food items, but no one complains or even thinks twice about it until they set foot in a Chinese restaurant.” Germain agrees, telling me that the anti-MSG narrative plays into a long history of anti-Chinese racism in the U.S. “Part of that has to do with the fact that this was happening at the height of the Cold War,” he says. “So the idea that the Chinese were doing something that was sneaky and harmful with chemicals was just a very easy idea to believe for a lot of Americans. It was just this confluence of all these different ideas that hit at once that made it the perfect storm to strike fear in the hearts and stomachs of America.”
    continued next post
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  4. #64
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    Continued from previous post

    crass iron skillet
    @SouthrnGothHick
    · Nov 24, 2019
    Controversial food opinions are frequently used to be Overtly Racist about different people's cuisine https://twitter.com/jonbecker_/statu...05486907052033

    Jon Becker
    @jonbecker_
    Please quote tweet this with your most controversial food opinion, I love controversial food opinions
    crass iron skillet
    @SouthrnGothHick
    If you are "allergic to MSG" but it only strikes when you eat Chinese food and not when you eat a tomato, then you're having headaches because you're a dehydrated racist

    1,106
    7:32 AM - Nov 24, 2019
    Twitter Ads info and privacy
    440 people are talking about this
    According to Wallace, in spite of the fact that you’ve probably heard someone tell you that they have an “MSG intolerance,” or that they’re “allergic to Chinese food” because of the MSG, the truth is, that’s physiologically impossible, considering “seven pounds of your body weight is actually made up of glutamic acid.” For those reasons, Wallace says that even though there’s been plenty of pressure advocating for an MSG ban, it’s always remained on the FDA’s “generally recognized as safe” food list.

    It should be noted that some researchers believe there are those who’ve shown signs of genuine MSG sensitivity. “In my research on the effects of MSG in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, I observed headache (including migraine), diarrhea, gastrointestinal pain and bloating, extreme fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive dysfunction — all of which improved when subjects were put on a diet low in free glutamate, and which returned with re-introduction of MSG,” writes Kathleen Holton, a professor in the School of Education, Teaching and Health and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at American University, for Live Science.

    Interestingly, Hang tells me that it’s not just non-Chinese people who share the anti-MSG opinion. “Chinese and Chinese-Americans have thought very lowly of their own food as well,” she says. “It’s a cultural perception, unfortunately.”

    But as is often the case with the winds of food trends, the direction appears to be changing. Thanks in large part to chefs like David Chang, who have worked to rewrite the narrative around Asian cuisine being considered “cheap food,” MSG is no longer the universal food ingredient pariah it once was.



    As per Mahoney’s BuzzFeed article, one of the focuses of Chang’s Momofuku research and development lab in New York’s East Village is to find different ways to achieve the much-sought after umami flavor provided by MSG. And although technically speaking, what they’re developing there is done via a natural fermentation process, the final product is chemically identical to the much maligned non-essential amino acid. “It just so happens that inside that tin of MSG is the exact molecule Chang and his chefs have worked so hard for the last three years to tease out of pots of fermenting beans and nuts,” writes Mahoney. “It’s pure glutamic acid, crystallized with a single sodium ion to stabilize it; five pounds of uncut, un-stepped-on umami, made from fermented corn in a factory in Iowa.”

    In addition to Chang’s reinvestment in MSG as a viable, non-hazardous flavor enhancer, researchers are also actively working to dispel the unfounded and racist MSG narrative. Most recently, Wallace and his team at George Mason found that glutamates like MSG can actually help reduce America’s sodium intake. “MSG contains about 12 percent sodium, which is two-thirds less than that contained in table salt, and data shows a 25 to 40 percent reduction in sodium is possible in specific product categories when MSG is substituted for some salt,” Wallace told Eureka Alert. “As Americans begin to understand that MSG is completely safe, I think we’ll see a shift toward using the ingredient as a replacement for some salt to improve health outcomes.”

    Which brings us back to my decade-long abandonment of an entire nation’s cuisine, all because of a three-lettered ingredient I was brainwashed to believe was no good for me. The Plum Tree Inn, my favorite Chinese restaurant in the valley, has since shuttered its doors, and as such, I will never eat there again. This, I accept as my deserved punishment for a decade of ignorance. But as anyone who lives in any American city knows, Chinese restaurants are plentiful, and never have I been more excited to get some MSG — by way of a giant helping of sesame chicken — back in my belly.


    Andrew Fiouzi
    Andrew Fiouzi is a staff writer at MEL.
    As my family hails from Hawaii, we had aji-no-moto on the table right next to the salt, pepper & soy sauce when I was growing up, long before the MSG thing hit.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  5. #65
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    Chinese restaurant syndrome

    I'm making a separate indie thread 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' off the 'Chinese food' thread now.

    And I don't think all Asians are cringing. I think only the Chinese Amer-azns are cringing. The Japanese are laughing because aji-no-moto is a Japanese thing, and the rest probably don't care.

    Asians cringe at 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' in dictionary
    A social media campaign backed by a Japanese seasonings company is targeting the persistent idea that Chinese food is packed with MSG and can make you sick
    By TERRY TANG Associated Press
    January 14, 2020, 11:25 AM
    5 min read


    People are seen in the window eating at a Chinese restaurant decorated with menu items on its shop front on Friday Jan. 10, 2020, in New York City. A social media campaign backed by a Japanese seasonings company is targeting the persistent idea that Chinese food is packed with MSG and can make you sick. So entrenched is the notion in American culture, it shows up in the dictionary: Merriam-Webster.com lists “Chinese restaurant syndrome." as a real illness. But much of the mythology around the idea has been debunked: monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, shows up in many foods from tomatoes to breast milk, and there's no evidence to link it to illness. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)People are seen in the window eating at a Chinese restaurant decorated with menu items on its shop front on Friday Jan. 10, 2020, in New York City. A social media campaign backed by a Japanese seasonings company is targeting the persistent idea that Chinese food is packed with MSG and can make you sick. So entrenched is the notion in American culture, it shows up in the dictionary: Merriam-Webster.com lists “Chinese restaurant syndrome." as a real illness. But much of the mythology around the idea has been debunked: monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, shows up in many foods from tomatoes to breast milk, and there's no evidence to link it to illness. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
    The Associated Press
    A social media campaign backed by a Japanese seasonings company is targeting the persistent idea that Chinese food is packed with MSG and can make you sick.

    So entrenched is the notion in American culture, it shows up in the dictionary: Merriam-Webster.com lists “ Chinese restaurant syndrome " as a real illness that has been around since 1968. But much of the mythology around the idea has been debunked: monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, shows up in many foods from tomatoes to breast milk, and there's no evidence to link it to illness.

    “For me, it’s another thing to point to other people and say ‘Look, if you think racism toward Asians doesn’t exist in this country, like here it is,'” said restaurateur Eddie Huang. “I know how white people see us. ‘They’re cool, they’re acceptable, they’re non-threatening. But they’re weird, their food.'"

    Huang, a New York City-based chef and author (his memoir inspired the ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat”), and TV's “The Real” co-host Jeannie Mai are launching a social media effort Tuesday with Ajinomoto, the longtime Japanese producer of MSG seasonings. They plan to use the hashtag #RedefineCRS to challenge Merriam-Webster to rewrite the definition.

    When reached for comment Tuesday, Merriam-Webster said it had not received complaints before about “Chinese restaurant syndrome" but would reconsider the term.

    “Our aim is always to provide accurate information about what words mean, which includes providing information about whether a use is offensive or dated,” senior editor Emily Brewster said in a statement. "We’ll be reviewing this particular entry and will revise it according to the evidence of the term in use.

    Shifts in culture and attitudes put the dictionary in a constant state of revision, she added.

    Before joining the effort, neither Huang nor Mai had any idea the phrase was in the dictionary.

    “The dictionary I thought was a reputable kind of Bible that was fact-checked all the way through in order to get us information,” said Mai, who is Vietnamese and Chinese. “'Chinese restaurant syndrome' is truly an outdated, super racist term.”

    The symptoms are listed as numbness of the neck, arms, and back as well as headaches, dizziness, and palpitations. It affects people eating food but “especially Chinese food heavily seasoned with monosodium glutamate.”

    The campaign isn't looking to wipe the phrase out, but update it.

    “I actually think it'd be interesting if they just kept it and just noted this is an outdated, antiquated thing,” Huang said. “I do think these things are important to remember and point to.”

    Huang and Mai say the campaign is not about trying to help boost sales at Ajinomoto, which was founded in 1908 after a Japanese professor figured out how to isolate glutamate from a seaweed broth.

    “They’re already selling tons of their products. They don’t really need my help to be honest,” Huang said.

    So, how did the myth endure for more than five decades?

    It started with a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, according to Robert Ku, author of “Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA.” Dr. Ho Man Kwok, who was Chinese American, wrote a letter speculating that some Chinese restaurants left him feeling numbness and other symptoms. Other readers, doctors themselves, then wrote in saying they experienced something similar. Some researchers claimed that MSG was the source, Ku said. The journal's editors decided to call it “Chinese restaurant syndrome.”

    “For a long time, Chinese restaurant syndrome was considered a legitimate ailment that the medical community seemed to back,” Ku said.

    The New York Times picked up on the debate. Chinese restaurants everywhere were putting up signs and menus that said “No MSG” because of the backlash.

    It wasn't until the 1990s that specialists doing more research began disproving the syndrome, Ku said. They found MSG was in just about every processed food.

    “It made no sense that only Chinese food that has MSG causes these ill effects but you can't get it from Campbell's Soup,” Ku said.

    MSG comes from glutamate, a common amino acid or protein building block found in food, according to Julie Stefanski, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Glutamate is present in foods like ham and some cheeses.

    The Food and Drug Administration says MSG is generally recognized as a safe addition to food. In previous studies with people identifying as sensitive to MSG, researchers found that neither MSG nor a placebo caused consistent reactions, the agency said.

    At a Chinese restaurant in Phoenix, some patrons had never even heard of the term.

    Linda Saldana is bothered by one culture’s food getting singled out.

    “I’m obviously not Asian,” said Saldana, who was having lunch with her husband, son and two nieces. “But if that was to be said about Mexican food, I’d feel a little offended because how could food cause all that?”

    ——— Terry Tang reported from Phoenix and is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP
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  6. #66
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    Bat Soup? WTF?!

    I've only seen this lone source for this news so far so I find this highly suspicious...

    Coronavirus blamed on bat soup as pics emerge of people eating the Chinese delicacy
    Bats could "host" the coronavirus, according to experts, and pictures have emerged of locals in Wuhan tucking into bat soup
    By Emma Parker Tiffany Lo
    19:33, 22 JAN 2020 UPDATED12:30, 23 JAN 2020

    The spread of the deadly coronavirus could be down to soup made from bats as photos emerge of people in a Chinese city eating the delicacy.

    Experts suggested bats could host the virus, which has killed 17 people, in a paper published in the China Science Bulletin – admitting the pneumonia-like virus was "underestimated" by the research community.

    China has confirmed over 500 cases of the disease and has since quarantined Wuhan as the coronavirus continues to spread.

    It is not yet clear how the virus has spread between humans and bats but scientists believe “there may be an unknown intermediate”.

    But Daily Star Online can reveal the "unknown" link may be down bat soup which is an unusual but widely consumed Chinese delicacy.



    Footage of people eating the potentially lethal soup emerged on social media this week.

    In one clip, a girl can be seen putting a black bat into her mouth with a pair of chopsticks as she sits down for dinner with friends.

    On a separate occasion a Wuhan resident took a picture of a dead bat grinning at the camera before eating it.


    (Image: EXCLUSIVE DAILY STAR ONLINE)

    The animal’s cooked insides can be seen in the disturbing image, with parts of the broth floating inside its stomach, along with its teeth.

    In a statement released to the South China Morning Post, scientists said: "The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate."

    News of the bat soup comes as the Foreign Office warned Brits not to travel to Wuhan amid fears of a global outbreak.

    Figures suggest 552 cases have been confirmed in the country across 22 different provinces.

    Actual figures are likely to be much higher, with leading Virologists suggesting billions could be at risk.



    The SARS-like virus has seen cases confirmed in China, Japan, Korea and the US.

    Chinese authorities have told people to stop travel in and out of Wuhan and cars are believed to have been blocked by authorities.

    Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the Medical Research Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, said the estimated number of people infected with coronavirus in Wuhan is around 4,000, with a range between 1,000 and 9,700.
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  7. #67
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    blame it on wild animal meat

    Bryan Ke·News·January 23, 2020·2 min read
    Snakes, Wolf Puppies and Rats Sold at Market Where Coronavirus Originated



    A menu filled with a variety of exotic wild animals was reportedly sold at a market in Wuhan, Hubei province, China where the coronavirus originated.

    Some of the wild animal meat mentioned on the price list of a vendor at the Huanan Seafood Market includes live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines and camels.

    There are a total of 112 items mentioned on the list, according to AFP via Straits Times.



    “Freshly slaughtered, frozen and delivered to your door,” the price list of the vendor said. “Wild Game Animal Husbandry for the Masses.”

    Although the exact source of the outbreak remains undetermined, Dr. Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese center for disease control and prevention, said in Beijing on Wednesday that authorities believe the virus most likely came from “wild animals at the seafood market.”
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    Continued from previous post




    However, AFP was unable to directly confirm the authenticity of the circulating list as the news agency’s phone call to the vendors went unanswered and attempts to reach them via social media were rejected.

    The same vendor’s now-shuttered storefront was shown in the picture posted by Beijing News on Tuesday while authorities wearing white hazmat suits investigated. It also quoted merchants saying the trade in wildlife took place until the market was shut down for disinfection shortly after the outbreak.
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    Continued from previous post




    Sellers in the market were the first few people to become infected with the virus when they fell ill between Dec. 12 and Dec. 29. Earlier this month, a total of 59 people had been infected, but recent reports show that 571 people have now also been infected in just a few weeks, while 17 deaths have been recorded, CNN reported.

    The infection, however, is not contained nor limited to China only. The disease has now spread to other Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and Thailand as well as the United States.

    People in China and other Asian countries continue to practice the consumption of many exotic animals that some consider a delicacy or attribute to positive health benefits not yet proven by science.

    However, the practice brings growing health risks to humans, according to Dr. Christian Walzer, executive director of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society’s Health Program. About 70% of all new infectious diseases come from wildlife and chances of the spreading of pathogens increases with habitat encroachment.

    “Wildlife markets offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts,” the doctor said. “It is essential to invest resources not only into discovering new viruses, but more importantly, in determining the epidemiological drivers of… (the) spillover, amplification, and spread of infectious diseases.”


    Feature Image via Weibo/Inkstone
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    tasty?

    More on bat soup here. Interesting how that story was 2017 originally.

    ‘Sorry about the tasty bat’: Chinese online host apologises for travel show dining advice as Wuhan virus spreads
    Wang Mengyun says she had no idea the animals are a reservoir of disease when she filmed the programme in Palau three years ago
    Emergence of new coronavirus similar to other bat-borne pathogens revives calls for ban on eating exotic species
    Laura Zhou
    Published: 2:11pm, 26 Jan, 2020


    Wang Mengyun says she is sorry for an online travel show segment about bat soup filmed in 2016. Photo: Sohu

    With the death toll from a coronavirus outbreak racing past 50, a Chinese internet celebrity has apologised for posting a video three years ago promoting bat as a tasty food.
    Wang Mengyun, host of an online show about international travel, wrote on her microblog that she was not aware that bats could be a virus carrier when she appeared in the video posted in 2017.
    “[I] had no idea during filming that there was such a virus,” Wang wrote online on Wednesday. “I realised it only recently.”
    She said the video was filmed in Palau, an archipelago in the western Pacific, about three years ago, when she and her team were shooting a tourism programme and trying some local dishes, including bat soup.
    In the video, Wang and another Chinese woman hold up a cooked bat and smile to camera.
    “The bat tastes very fresh, like chicken meat,” she says.
    “I didn’t know that bat is a primary reservoir of viruses ... I really did not check the information or explain its dangerous nature,” she said.
    The video was taken down but reposted by Chinese internet users after cases of pneumonia-like illness emerged in the city of Wuhan in central China late last year.
    The virus soon spread across the country and overseas, killing 56 people and triggering a fear of contagion.
    According to the National Health Commission nearly 2,000 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed, with 324 of them in a critical condition.


    China coronavirus: a look inside the sealed off city of Wuhan

    While health officials and researchers are struggling to determine the origins of the virus, scientists from the elite Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Friday that its genome was 96 per cent identical to a bat coronavirus.
    This echoed the findings of David Robertson, a bioinformatics specialist at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research, and statistician Jiang Xiaowei of Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, who wrote in a medical discussion forum that new coronavirus’ genome data was “most closely related” to three other bat coronaviruses.
    The outbreak in Wuhan has also triggered heated discussion on mainland China about banning consumption of exotic animals, which were sold at a wet market thought to be a source of the cases.
    Some internet users said Wang should have been aware of the deadly nature of wild animals, given the suspected exotic species origins of a deadly 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people worldwide.
    “[Wang] filmed the video in 2016 but since 2003 Sars we have been warned to say no to wild animal consumption,” one Weibo user wrote. “She said it was [filmed] overseas but what she did was trying to show people that bat was attractively tasted.”
    Sign up now for our 50% early bird offer from SCMP Research: China AI Report. The all new SCMP China AI Report gives you exclusive first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments, and actionable and objective intelligence about China AI that you should be equipped with.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: host of online travel show apologises for posting video of eating bat in 2017
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    Wildlife consumption

    Wildlife Consumption Linked to Deadly New Strain of Virus
    January 24, 2020



    With more than 800 people infected and 26 confirmed deaths, a new virus outbreak from China has put a spotlight on the consumption of wildlife. While the government has stepped up its efforts to limit such consumption in response, WildAid is working with our partners in China and Vietnam to implement effective and long-term solutions.

    The new coronavirus (known as 2019-nCoV) was first reported in Wuhan City, China, on December 31, 2019, and has since been detected in travelers to other countries. The Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan came under scrutiny after experts suggested the new type of virus came from wild animals kept in unhygienic conditions and illegally sold for consumption. A menu circulating online lists animals like live foxes, crocodiles, civets, snakes, rats, seafood and other wildlife for sale.

    China’s Ministry of Natural Resources, along with numerous other ministries have urged people to immediately stop consuming wildlife and in a recent social media post, they repeated that “refusing to eat wildlife is also a way to protect ourselves.”

    The Chinese authorities had been “remarkably open” amid an “enormously demanding” situation, said Prof Neil Ferguson, the director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London.

    Chinese authorities have issued daily briefings, putting in place strict measures to control the disease, including closing wildlife markets and banning travel in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, as well as in 11 other nearby cities. China’s National Health Commission Vice-Minister Li Bin warned the flu-like virus can be transmitted from human to human and urged the public to minimize public gatherings. The timing of the outbreak is particularly worrisome as hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel for the Lunar New Year beginning on Saturday, January 25th.

    “The openness and willingness by the authorities to quickly shut down the markets and call on the public to stop consuming illegal wildlife products has been very encouraging,” said WildAid China Representative Steve Blake. “Momentum to end this dangerous and often devastating consumption of wildlife has been building here for years, but this is the first time we’re seeing such a complete stance to end it from both the government and the public.”

    The Chinese public has taken to social media to vent their frustrations, demanding stricter enforcement of wildlife markets and trade. A public service announcement with musician Jay Chou and WildAid, which warns the public about illegally consuming wildlife, has gone viral with over 14 million views in just a few days on Weibo.

    “Some people think it’s clever to eat these cute animals, pangolins,” Chou says in the PSA. “In fact, it’s dangerous. There are serious risks of picking up parasites or catching diseases, and the scales for medicine? They’re keratin, just like your fingernails…and these animals are becoming endangered. Never eat pangolins or use their scales. When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

    For 20 years, WildAid has been campaigning to end consumer demand for illegal wildlife products to save endangered species, which in turn can help protect public health.

    Past epidemics like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have entered the human population from animals. China bans the trafficking of a number of wild species or requires special licenses, but many exotic species are still widely consumed illegally.

    The coronavirus, which has no known vaccine, has also been reported in South Korea, Thailand, Japan and elsewhere outside China. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. case in which a man infected with the virus flew from Wuhan to Everett, Washington. Meanwhile, India, Nigeria, Japan and the United States have all implemented airport screening procedures. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough or trouble breathing with serious cases leading to pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
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  12. #72
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    The return of 'sick men of asia'


    ‘Made in China’: how Wuhan coronavirus spread anti-Chinese racism like a disease through Asia

    Xenophobic chatter about Chinese eating habits is going viral on the internet
    Such ignorance isn’t just unpalatable – in misdiagnosing the problem, it’s dangerous, too
    Kok Xinghui
    Published: 8:00pm, 29 Jan, 2020


    A video by Chinese social media influencer Wang Mengyun, in which she tries bat soup has been held up by some as evidence of ‘disgusting’ Chinese eating habits – even though the video was shot in Palau. Photo: Sohu

    As Singaporeans gathered over the Lunar New Year weekend, jokes were cracked about Chinese eating habits and how a propensity to eat “anything with four legs except the table and everything that flies except planes” had given rise to the Wuhan coronavirus.
    One meme said there was no need to worry – the virus would not last long because it was “made in China”.
    The jokes, tinged with racism, soon grew into a call for the city state to ban Chinese travellers from entering. A change.org petition started on January 26 had 118,858 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Among those calling for health to be prioritised over tourism dollars was Ian Ong, who wrote: “We are not rat or bat eaters and should not be made to shoulder their nonsense.”
    Xenophobic chatter about mainland Chinese and their eating habits has spread across the world since the first cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019 n-CoV) emerged in China’s Hubei province in December.
    The virus has now infected more than 6,000 people, most of them in mainland China where at least 132 people have died. Dozens of people have been infected in the rest of Asia – including 10 in Singapore and seven in Malaysia.
    Some countries, including the Philippines, have stopped issuing visas on arrival to all Chinese nationals. Papua New Guinea has gone further, shutting its air and seaports to all foreigners coming from Asia.


    Passengers arriving from Guangzhou, China, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. The Philippines has stopped issuing visas on arrival to all Chinese nationals. Photo: EPA

    In Malaysia, there have been calls to block Chinese tourists and social media posts claiming the outbreak is “divine retribution” for China’s treatment of its Muslim Uygur population. Some mosques in Malaysia have also closed themselves off to tourists.
    In Japan, a shop in a mountain town prompted an apology from tourism authorities after it posted a sign saying: “No Chinese are allowed to enter the store. I do not want to spread the virus.”
    From noon on Wednesday Singapore has blocked the entry of tourists who had visited Hubei province in the past 14 days, or who hold passports issued in the province. Malaysia has also stopped issuing visas to Chinese travellers from Hubei.
    The Singapore government has said the travel ban was due to global trends showing that most of the infections were in people who had been to the province and the country wanted to minimise import of the virus to Singapore.
    The growing stigma has even reached European shores. Graduate student Sam Phan wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian about how a man on the bus in London had scrambled to get up as soon as Phan sat down. “This week, my ethnicity has made me feel like I was part of a threatening and diseased mass. To see me as someone who carries the virus just because of my race is, well, just racist,” he wrote.
    In Canada, Toronto website BlogTO said a stigma was also attached to Chinese food, noting that a similar thing happened during the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which infected 8,000 people globally and killed nearly 800. The website noted racist comments on its Instagram post about a new Chinese restaurant, which some posters urged diners to avoid because it “may have bat pieces in there or whatever else they eat”.
    The comments were in part a reference to a video of a Chinese social media influencer tucking into a bowl of bat soup. Some posters have claimed the video is evidence of “disgusting” Chinese eating habits, though the video was in fact filmed three years ago in Palau, a Pacific island nation where bat soup is a delicacy.
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    Continued from previous post


    Wrongly accused? The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. Photo: Simon Song

    It is still unknown how the coronavirus made the jump from wildlife to humans, but early on in the outbreak the Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan was widely assumed to be the origin of the disease. The market has a thriving wildlife trade, selling animals from foxes to wolf puppies, giant salamanders to peacocks and porcupines.
    However, in recent days research has emerged suggesting the market may not be the source of the virus.
    The medical journal The Lancet on January 24 said that of the first clinical cases, 13 out of 41 had no link to the market.
    The first patient showed symptoms on December 1, meaning human infections must have occurred in November 2019 given the two-week incubation period. Researchers said the virus could have spread in Wuhan before the cluster within the market was discovered.
    Similarly, the virus’ genome has been sequenced but researchers are not sure if it comes from bats – as Sars did – or snakes. Still, experts said it is not so much about what meat is eaten, but how thoroughly it is cooked and the hygiene precautions taken during food preparation.
    “The chef is at greatest risk,” said infectious disease specialist Leong Hoe Nam, who was closely involved in Singapore’s fight against Sars, which killed 33 people and infected 238 in the city state.
    Leong said anybody could catch a virus from an animal.
    “It is a case of the right person meeting the wrong virus at the wrong time. It could happen to anyone studying viruses, or meeting the bats in the most inopportune time,” he said, referring to a case in Melaka, Malaysia, when a bat flew into a house and infected a 39-year-old man and his family.
    Painting the coronavirus as a Chinese problem was like “dealing with the problem with a sledge hammer, implicating all Chinese nationals rather than dealing with bad food safety practices and diets”, said National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser.
    Nanyang Technological University (NTU) sociologist Laavanya Kathiravelu said xenophobic social media posts were an extension of colonial-era stereotypes.
    “Chinese, in these xenophobic accounts, are seen as taking resources away from deserving local populations, and having uncouth behaviour. More broadly, this can also be seen as informed by older stereotypes of Chinese as dirty, having bad hygiene and undesirable culinary practices,” she said.
    Even Singapore government ministers have spoken out.


    Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, pictured with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has cautioned his countrymen against ‘turning xenophobic’. File photo

    Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a task force set up to deal with the virus, said on Monday: “I want to assure Singaporeans that the government will do everything we can to protect Singaporeans and Singapore but this does not mean overreacting, or worse, turning xenophobic.”
    Singaporean playwright Zizi Azah, who is based in New York, said it was illogical to pin the virus on a race. “Illness knows no geographical or racial boundaries and it really is the luck of the draw, isn’t it? Where something starts and where it gets to,” she said.
    Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, director of the Centre for Interfaith Understanding, cautioned against the effects of dehumanising Chinese people as uncivilised. “It is not due to ‘Chinese-ness’; the fact that these people are Chinese is incidental, not the reason for the emergence and transmission of the virus. The virus could have emerged in any other part of the world, just as Ebola started in Congo and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
    Singapore’s Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Monday called for empathy, saying that Singaporeans would not have liked it if during the Sars outbreak other countries had asked Singaporean expatriates to leave.
    “We’re an international hub, we can well be quite hard hit by such epidemics. So I’d say do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. We all must tackle the problem objectively.”
    In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad clarified that any mosques that had closed themselves off to tourists had not done so on the government’s advice.
    “This is not a government policy and it is an irresponsible act,” he said on Wednesday, warning the public against spreading fake news that could stir racial tensions.
    “Even though we believe in freedom of expression, it does not mean we can be antagonistic and agitate the feelings of others.”


    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: racism aimed at chinese spreads fear and panic
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    Good article on PRC Wild Animal Trade Ban



    Voices & Opinion
    The Challenge Facing China’s Wild Animal Trade Ban
    If the country is serious about curbing the wild animal trade, it needs to rethink its approach.


    Feb 27, 2020 5-min read
    Voices
    Zhou Hongcheng
    Professor of food culture
    Zhou Hongcheng is an assistant professor of Chinese food culture at Zhejiang Gongshang University.

    On Feb. 24, China announced it would implement a “comprehensive” and immediate ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals nationwide. The move cemented an earlier emergency ban enacted amid the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, which has killed 2,800 and sickened over 80,000 worldwide as of Feb. 27.

    But whether it will have a lasting impact is another question. This isn’t the first time a zoonotic coronavirus has devastated China or sparked a legislative and popular backlash against wild animal consumption. SARS, which some scientists believe jumped to humans from masked palm civets at a wet market in southern China, killed nearly 800 people around the world from 2002 to 2004. While recent research has cast doubt on the theory that COVID-19 originated in a live animal market in the central city of Wuhan, virologists still believe it was likely transmitted to humans from wild animals, possibly endangered pangolins.

    In the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, China updated its existing rules governing the wildlife trade, but a combination of loopholes and muddled enforcement has continued to render them largely ineffective. If we want this time to be different, we first need to understand the cultural and commercial drivers of the trade, as well as the flaws in the current regulatory and enforcement system.

    Chinese have consumed wild animals for thousands of years, though contrary to stereotypes abroad, they are hardly a fixture of the country’s dinner tables. In its most basic form, the practice was a matter of survival: China had a large population, limited arable land, and a long history of natural and man-made disasters. In times of need, many ordinary Chinese turned to wild animals and plants for sustenance.

    In non-emergencies, the traditional notion that “like nourishes like” led many to believe that eating animal parts could have a beneficial effect on the diner’s corresponding body part. For example, braised beef tendon was seen as a curative for frail knees, and sheep’s ***** as a virility booster.

    As the above examples show, such customs aren’t necessarily tied to the consumption of wild or exotic animals. But there is a long-standing belief in China that the rarer something is, the greater its value. Rare or hard-to-obtain meat was — and sometimes still is — thought to have extremely potent medicinal effects. It could also be a powerful symbol of filial piety, love, and respect, as in the folk story of the woman who cut flesh from her thigh to cook a medicinal porridge for her mother-in-law.

    One domestic media outlet found over 100 possible exceptions to the new rules, including sika deer, red deer, and ring-necked pheasant.
    - Zhou Hongcheng, professor
    These customs have been reinforced by the tenets of traditional Chinese medicine, which makes liberal usage of ingredients extracted from wild animals — such as tiger bone, pilose antler, and deer fetus. Pangolins are another common source of curatives. And while the consumption of pangolin meat is illegal in the country, an exception for TCM practitioners has long allowed the scales of farm-bred pangolins to be prescribed for medicinal use — a loophole that has greatly complicated efforts to protect the species.

    China has had a wildlife protection law on the books since 1988, but its single-minded focus on encouraging the commercial rearing and breeding of species over conservation has led many critics to dub it the “wildlife exploitation law.” In particular, species categorized as one of the “three haves” — having “ecological, scientific, or social value,” like pangolins — were eligible to be bred and sold by licensed farms, which have become a key pillar of rural economies in impoverished parts of the country.

    In addition to forming a regulatory blind spot — the relevant authorities generally lack the resources to ensure wildlife farms are operating legally and within regulations — farm-raised wildlife muddies the waters for what is and isn’t legal to consume. The latest ban, despite its claim to be “comprehensive,” does little to clear things up. One domestic media outlet found over 100 possible exceptions to the new rules, including sika deer, red deer, and ring-necked pheasant.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. On Feb. 25, the day after China announced its nationwide ban on the wild animal trade, the southern megacity of Shenzhen unveiled its own version of the rules, including a white list with just nine types of meat on it. On the city’s black list were a number of species, including turtles, snakes, and some types of birds that local authorities believed posed a risk to public health, despite still being legal to raise under national law.

    That’s a far simpler and more effective approach than the convoluted new national ban, but it may not be enough on its own. One of the primary reasons China is so vulnerable to zoonotic diseases is the very nature of its cities — and the places where animals, both wild and domesticated, are sold.

    Wet markets have been linked to numerous infectious disease outbreaks in China over the years, from SARS to bird flu, and their close proximity to residential areas makes them a sizeable community risk. COVID-19 might not have originated in a Wuhan wet market, but the market’s central location almost certainly helped accelerate its spread.

    Wet markets’ reputations as incubators for disease makes them easy targets during epidemics, and local governments around the country have responded to the current crisis with bans and cleanup campaigns. The eastern province of Zhejiang, for example, has not just cracked down on the wild animal trade, but also the sale of live poultry.

    These campaign-style enforcement efforts cannot achieve lasting change. As long as small markets are allowed to sell and slaughter live animals, resource-strapped local governments will be hard-pressed to monitor and regulate their compliance with health and sanitation codes. To reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission, slaughter and packaging operations should be moved to large-scale, advanced, and easier-to-monitor operations away from residential areas.

    The guiding principles of any legislation should be clarity and practicability
    - Zhou Hongcheng, professor
    Ultimately, the guiding principles of any legislation should be clarity and practicability. Banning the wildlife trade altogether while carving out a broad array of exceptions for different species and market needs clearly hasn’t been effective. And although Shenzhen’s new guidelines are admirably clear, they likely go too far: One of the delights of any cuisine is variety, and banning all but the most common livestock outright will likely cause resentment that could set back the conservation movement. We need to assess the risks and conservation needs of each individual species before making a clear and definite decision one way or the other.

    Meanwhile, we should take steps to lower demand for wild animals. There is research showing young Chinese are already less interested in wild animal consumption than older generations. We should encourage this trend through health and scientific education, such as by pointing out the lack of scientific evidence for most TCM remedies. Higher taxes can also be used to slowly discourage consumption of wild animal byproducts.

    Changing long-ingrained eating habits will take time. Rather than rushing in with a blanket ban, we should rationally examine the issue, identify the core problems, and work to resolve them, step-by-step.

    Translator: David Ball; editors: Wu Haiyun and Kilian O’Donnell.

    (Header image: A Chinese pangolin strolls in the soil, June 2017. IC)
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    RIP Cecilia Chiang

    Cecilia Chiang, Who Revolutionized American Chinese Food, Dies At 100
    October 28, 20205:43 PM ET
    Heard on Morning Edition
    Neda Ulaby - Square


    Cecilia Chiang poses in her kitchen in 2014. She told NPR that when she first arrived in the U.S., she was shocked by the food most Americans considered to be Chinese.
    Eric Risberg/AP

    The chef and restaurant owner who helped change the way Americans think about Chinese food has died. Cecilia Chiang was twice a refugee before she opened the influential San Francisco restaurant The Mandarin and taught Chinese cooking to Julia Child and James Beard. Chiang died Wednesday in San Francisco. She was 100 years old.

    The documentary Soul of a Banquet explains that Chiang was born into a wealthy Shanghai family with two full-time chefs — one from the north and one from the south. (The film also features drool-inducing close ups of her specialties, like red cooked pork and fish stuffed with ginger and pepper. Don't watch it while you're hungry.) Speaking to the camera, former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl says food connected Chiang to a vanished era: "She has this taste memory that goes back to a time that — there aren't a lot of people alive who remember the food of that China, the great food of the great houses, when what you had were chefs who had been classically trained."

    That China no longer exists. In 1937, when Japan bombed Shanghai, Chiang had just started college. She and an older sister fled, walking hundreds of miles to the city of Chengdu. Eighty years later, Chiang told NPR about getting robbed by soldiers and hiding from low-flying Japanese warplanes. "Now I think about it, I was very brave," she said.

    Chiang had to flee her home a second time when the Communists took over. She wound up in the U.S., where she was both shocked and amused by the food most Americans considered to be Chinese — like gloppy chop suey.

    "They think chop suey is the only thing we have in China," she said with a laugh. "What a shame."

    So Chiang resolved to open a high-end Chinese restaurant that served authentic fare. "Everybody said, 'You cannot make it. You cannot speak English. You don't know anything,' " she recalled. But starting in 1961, tourists, dignitaries and celebrities — from Mae West to John Lennon — flocked to The Mandarin for then-unfamiliar food like tea-smoked duck and twice-cooked pork.

    To this day, Cecelia Chiang's DNA can be found all over American Chinese food. Her son founded the chain P.F. Chang's and the son of one of her chefs founded Panda Express.

    In early 2017, Chiang told NPR how she lived to be so old: "I always think about the better side, the good side of everything. I never think about, Oh, I'm going to fail. Oh, I cannot do this. Oh, I feel sorry for myself."

    Instead, Chiang wrote books, starred in a PBS documentary series and won the most prestigious award in American cooking (from the James Beard Foundation) when she was 93 years old.
    Interesting. I never knew.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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