A Taste of China Episode 4: Farm to Table in Guangdong (Event #53)
Travel live with us to Guangdong, to explore the rise of one of the most important sustainable agriculture movements on the planet. Here in the heart of China’s Pearl River Delta, entrepreneurs are working to rebuild social trust between farmers in China’s countryside and the huge populations of its rapidly growing cities. As urban dwellers with disposable time and income are expressing renewed interested in tradition, while looking for new ways to prioritize food safety and health, new businesses are spring up to meet the growing demand. Meet the innovators who are working to strengthen rural communities, promote sustainable agriculture, and mobilizing technology to bring food from farm to table in China today. This event is co-hosted with the China Institute.
How can the concept of ‘Farm-to-table’ work in a country with 1.4 billion mouths to feed?
Simply put, ‘farm-to-table’ is a social movement that seeks to address food-related challenges, such as food security, economic development, and sustainability, with the common objective of reducing barriers between local, small-scale farmers and consumers.
In our recent episode of Taste of China – together with the China Institute – we sat down with the farmers leading this movement in Guangdong, China, to learn what it takes to bring food from farm to table in this vast country.
Meet the people behind this movement, and catch our event replay below.
Matilda Ho Managing Director of Bits x Bites
Matilda Ho is a serial entrepreneur and investor driving to create more sustainable food systems. She is founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, China’s pioneer food tech venture capital investing in startups tackling global food system challenges. With a mission to shape the future of good food, Bits x Bites is a big step forward to inspire and support the entrepreneurial community to bring new ideas to solve global issues. To date, it has invested in startups that are advancing gene editing for high-performing crops, functional chickpea-based protein ingredients, as well as cost-efficient, non-GMO cell-based meat production without an actual animal. In addition to Bits x Bites, Matilda has founded Yimishiji, a farm-to-table grocery e-commerce platform that has engineered food education and transparency into the entire supply chain and customer experience.
“By establishing a more direct connection between [farmer and consumer]… the final cost of the produce can be reduced by up to 50%.” – Matilda Ho
Fred Young Founder of Rainbow of Hope
“While everyone appreciates organic farming, both farmers and consumers face the challenges with the higher cost of this high-quality produce.” – Fred Young
Xiong Guilin Organic mushroom farmer in GuangdongXiong Guilin runs an organic mushroom farm in rural Guangdong, and distributes his organic produce locally and across China, through farm-to-table programs like Fred Young’s Rainbow of Hope and Matilda Ho’s Bits x Bites. Mr. Xiong earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at a university in Shaoguan, before moving to the countryside to start his farm. He runs a family-owned mushoom farm, and uses the mushrooms both to sell directly to consumers, and to produce organic fertilizer to grow his crops.
“How we produce and deliver food right now is not sustainable. In order to provide a more resilient supply chain, we need technology to enable this [food movement] and we want to invest in the food technology to address food safety problems facing China.” – Xiong Guilin
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- Dorinda ElliottDirector of Programs and Center for Business at the China Institute
Dorinda Elliott is the SVP, Director of Programs and Center for Business at the China Institute. Before joining China Institute, Elliott worked as editorial and communications director at the Paulson Institute, which promotes U.S.-China relations and sustainable growth in both countries.
Elliott worked as a journalist for some 30 years, with a deep background in China. She wrote for the BusinessWeek magazine, then served as Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek magazine. Elliott later lived in Hong Kong for a decade, traveling and reporting across China. Elliott was Newsweek Bureau Chief in Beijing, Moscow, and Hong Kong, then Asia Editor. As Editor-in-Chief of Asiaweek from 2000-2001, she relaunched the magazine with a new focus on China and business. Elliott was later an Assistant Managing Editor at Time magazine, then Global Affairs Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, where she wrote about China, global issues, and corporate social responsibility. Elliott graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies.
- Mei ZhangFounder and CEO of WildChina
Mei Zhang is the founder and CEO of WildChina. Under her leadership, WildChina flourished from a small Hutong operation into an award-winning business. Mei’s own expertise has led her to win a number of personal awards, including Travel and Leisure’s A-List of Top Travel Advisors, Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist, and Wendy Perrin’s #WOW List of Travel Experts. Mei is an Aspen Institute China Fellow and currently serves as a member of Harvard Business School’s Alumni Board.