In the new “season” of Eat Well Shanghai, I am planning lots of field trips around town, especially to all the organic farms. Really, there is no other question I hear more often then, “Is that REALLY organic?” and honestly, I have no idea! I have some limited information on organic labeling in China (thank you, Rich at Collective Responsibility! http://www.collectiveresponsibility.org/en/it-green-labels-china) but just because it carries the organic label, and has been certified, its really hard to say that it is. My best advice: Go visit and see for yourself! Or if you can’t make it, I’ll visit and tell you what I find.
First up, Tongchu Organics. They grabbed my attention first and foremost by highlighting Japanese organic growing methods, since I love all (food) things Japanese. Somehow I had the misperception that they imported their soil from Japan, which I’m guessing would be a lot of work, but would be pretty great. Turn out their soil is “The mixture of peat moss (from Nanjing, Inner Mongolia, and Canada) and organic fertilizer.” They grow all their veggies in hot houses and use a water filtration system that uses, “the latest technology (nano filters) from Japan. The water we use is cleaner and has less impurities than many bottled waters being sold today.” Sounds good, right?
My EWS colleague (ok, friend) and I were impressed by the quality and taste of the products. Especially the tomatoes and lettuce. It did taste better and slightly less chemically than the conventional fare from Carrefour or the wet market. Also, Tongchu sells potted herb plants, including basil, oregano and mint, to get your home garden going. They also do home delivery of their fruits, veggies and herbs, along with Asahi milk.
However, if you are ready and willing to pay 4-5x the price for these products, and don’t have time to do a full tour, here is some more information on the view from the farm. This is a plastics factory right next door. Note that this water does run through the farm, although the gal who gave us a tour did indicate that it doesn’t interfere with the farming methods. I’m just saying to be saying, ok?
Overall, I would say Tongchu does a nice job in shanghai, especially with the lettuce, which they do wash (although I would always recommend you wash it again, along with everything there). But, as I always say, come visit and see for yourself!
Find It: Tongchu Organics: http://www.tongchu.com.cn/index.php