Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corn, Ethanol, Kimchi and Napa Cabbage - 玉米,乙醇,泡菜和大白菜

Kimchi, the ubiquitous fermented Korean dish, has experienced skyrocketing prices in recent months because of a weak harvest due to an unseasonably cold winter.  In order to satisfy their needs, South Korean rushed to China to purchase napa cabbages and contributed to their price rise in certain part of China as well.  Napa cabbages are essential for winter months in many parts of northern China.  The reliance on preserved napa cabbages has lessened somewhat comparing to 20 or 30 years ago.  When I grew up, in Manchurian China, families bought hundreds and even more than one thousand pound of napa cabbages to stock up for almost six month long winter.  Still, for many, napa cabbage is still the only vegetable they can afford in winter and any price increase, however small, will generate huge burden on them.

This reminded me the unhappy consequence when the US started to import corns from Mexico in order to produce cheap ethanol to add to gasoline, and drove up the corn prices in Mexico, where many people rely on corn as daily food.

Kimchi is important in Korea, but people won't go hungry without it.  Without cheap gasoline, Americans won't go hungry but high priced corns do make many Mexicans hungry.

Must one people's happiness built on the misery of another?





Vegetable Garden / 菜园子 / Gemüsegarten
Vegetable Garden © Matthew Felix Sun

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