Cabbages invade Beijing streets

Winter is traditionally the season of the cabbage. And in Beijing, this means the invasion of the cabbage. Hundreds of thousands have flooded the streets since the start of November-- too many in fact, for a city that now has many other vegetables to choose from, reported on Saturday.

Twenty years ago, people lined the streets, anxious to stock up on almost the only vegetable that was hardy enough, and cheap enough, to see them through the long, dry winter.

The cabbage began its patriotic decline in 1989. A glut in supplies meant public offices, schools, factories and army units were encouraged to eat the 80,000 tons left on the streets.

Today the queues are shorter, and households no longer horde 50 kilos.

But many old Beijingers, still living in ancient Hutongs, find their habits hard to topple.

An old Beijing resident said, "My income has limits so I have to store up cabbages for the long winter."

Another said, "When it's raining and snowing we don't go outside. This doesn't matter. If the old people at home have got vegetables to eat, it doesn't matter."

Now a hundred types of vegetables are being sold in local markets and global chain supermarkets so the cabbage is just one of many things goodies filling a winter shopping bag.

A Beijing resident Wang Guirong said, "Very early on we used to buy cabbages. But these past few years we haven't because there are always vegetables throughout the winter."

This lack of demand and an excellent harvest has produced another glut in cabbages. This year's prices are a rock bottom one mao for one jin, around 1.2 cents for half a kilo.

One vegetable seller describes the effect this has had on farmers.

Vegetable seller said, "Farmers are making about 200 Yuan per Mu - not enough to cover their costs of fertilisers and pesticides."

The demand for cabbage hills may have gone, but Beijingers' enthusiasm for a huge array of cabbage dishes has not diminished. Enditem


People's Daily Online ---