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Buy Local, Eat Slow

By  Mary K. Smith (China Daily)

09:08, May 22, 2012

Slow Food. Organic produce. Traceable ingredients. Sustainable agriculture. Reducing "food miles". In one of the largest nations on earth, food has always been a top concern, and now both producers and consumers are learning a whole new lexicon of terms. Mary K. Smith files this report from Shanghai.

Austin Hu is chef and owner of Shanghai's New American cuisine restaurant Madison, nestled in the heart of the former French Concession area. When he began his search for quality domestic produce in China, he was repeatedly told that there were none. His best and safest bet was to import everything.

"I'm Chinese-American by descent, so it bothers me when a country is this massive and you tell me you can't find anything," Hu says. "With so many people, with such history - culinary and culturally - the fact that people say there are no good vegetables ... that is impossible and it doesn't make any sense."

As a chef for more than 10 years in the United States working in restaurants that followed "buy local" mantras, Hu was determined to find quality ingredients in and around Shanghai.

He may be among the small minority of chefs in China taking the time to search out quality, local ingredients, but he is part of a growing global movement that has made its way into the country: Slow Food.

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