Monday, July 9, 2012

Food Hero Tuesday: Janice Leung of "e_ting the world" and Island East Markets!

Get ready for Island East Markets in September!
(Photo credit: Janice Leung for Island East Markets)

Note from the Editor: Every Tuesday, TFT HK will bring you a post or article from/about one of our local or global food heroes. These are people who inspire us, and whose visions align with the values that TFT espouses and promotes. This week's post is from food writer/author of the beloved HK food blog, e_ting the world, Janice Leung. Janice began blogging at age 17, food blogging at 20, and hasn't looked back, making writing, in particular food writing, her career. After almost 5 years at LUXE City Guides writing about all the fabulous aspects of travel, she went freelance to focus on her passion - food. Her work appears in South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, Time Out Hong Kong, and more. On September 30 of this year, she is launching Hong Kong's largest farmers market, Island East Markets, in Quarry Bay. Janice, we at TFT HK salute you!

Six things you might not know about organic vegetables in Hong Kong

A lot of us in Hong Kong are looking for real, local, clean food. The good news is, there's quite a bit of it in Hong Kong. Here are six little-known facts about eating real food in Hong Kong.

There are over 100 working, professional organic farms in Hong Kong

There are two main hubs for farms in Hong Kong: Fan Ling and Kam Tin, which are in the northern and northwestern parts of New Territories respectively.

Hong Kong has its own organic certification system

The Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre (HKORC) was established in 2002 by the Hong Kong Baptist University, the Produce Green Foundation and Sustainable Ecological Ethical Development Foundation, to act as an independent body for organic certification. That is, the local equivalent to having something certified organic by the USDA, or the Soil Association in the UK. This was funded by the Vegetable Marketing Organisation, Hong Kong's statutory authority that controls the sale of vegetables in Hong Kong. In 2004, Hong Kong’s first organic certification service was launched.

There are farmers markets in Hong Kong

Indeed! However, because of difficulty in finding a low-rent or regular space, they are few and far between, and many only have a few stalls. However, do stay tuned for Island East Markets, which will have more than 20 farmers stalls, as well as 20 local arts, crafts, designers, vintage, and food stalls!

Tai Po (Sunday), around 20 stalls:
Tuen Mun (Saturday), around 6 stalls:
Central Pier 7 (Wednesday, Sunday), around 4 stalls:
Discovery Bay (every few months), around 1-2 stalls:

Buying local isn't just about food miles

The classic example against the carbon footprint argument is having tomatoes flown into the UK from Spain. According to the food mile theory, it would seem that the Spanish tomatoes are less ecologically sound. However, some argue that in order to grow tomatoes in the UK, where it's gloomy and cold, these British tomatoes would need the help of greenhouses which create an even greater carbon footprint. 

Counting carbon emissions might be an exact science, but buying local goes beyond that. For instance, think about:

- self-sustainability: Hong Kong imports almost 100% of our food. What if trade agreements collapsed, or somehow we became isolated from parts of the world that supply us with a lot of our food, eg. China?
- community - There are families who have farmed for decades in Hong Kong, and others who wish to build their future on a farm. By supporting them, we not only ensure our own food supply, but encourage a society that is made up of diverse industries.
time it takes for it to arrive on your plate: Kam Tin to Central is 30 mins. Beat that for freshness!
- food security: You've heard it all before - fake soy sauce, melamine milk, mad cow, nuclear contamination - we need to be able to control our own food supply and assess it for safety.

Local organic vegetables are not at all pricy

One of my favourite web-savvy farmers has an order form online at with what he has to offer each week. As at 10 July, he has romaine lettuce for just HK$30 per catty. A catty is about a pound. A whole pound! Never pay for salad leaves at prices listed by the gram again.

You can have local organic vegetables delivered

Some local farmers can deliver directly to your house or can deliver to a set location, such as an MTR stop, or even shops, like 330 in Tin Hau. Contact the Organic Farmers Association (the group for professional local organic farmers) for more details (email them at: hk [dot] organicfarmers [at] gmail [dot] com).

Kids helping out on Au Law organic farm
(Photo credit: Janice Leung for Island East Markets)

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