Soy Sauce or Water? China’s Soil Contamination and Water Supply

by Phoebe Shum

For many Americans, the term “local” food usually coincides with sustainability, farmer’s markets, and everything environmental. This is not the case in modern day China. In fact, it is the very opposite. He-Guangwei, investigative reporter for The Times Weekly, explains that China’s rapid modernisation has brought about severe stress on the agricultural soil quality. The contamination in soil has brought about a myriad of other problems such as water quality degradation due to heavy metal pollution and cancer-caused deaths. In particular, Lake Tai, the third largest freshwater lake in China that supplies drinking water to more than 30 million people, has become so polluted as a result of factory run-off. The water has even been described to resemble soy sauce. It’s devastating to see that the once crystal-clear waters of Lake Tai now have the ability to turn people’s sweat into a color resembling mud. Farmers around the Lake Tai area refuse to eat the very crops they grow, fully aware that their produce is planted in cadmium, lead and mercury infused soil. The government remains unresponsive to the scale of the issue, wary of attracting negative media and international attention. Continue reading