In recent years, China has become a major food supplier to Europe. But the low-cost goods are grown in an environment rife with pesticides and antibiotics, disproportionately cited for contamination and subject to an inspection regime full of holes. A recent norovirus outbreak in Germany has only heightened worries.
Qufu, the city in China's southwestern Shandong Province where Confucius was born, isn't exactly an attractive place. But its fields are as good as gold. A few weeks ago, a shipment of strawberries left those fields bound for Germany.
The air above the cities of the Chinese heartland is blackened with smog, as trucks barrel along freshly paved roads carrying loads of coal from the mines or iron girders from the region's smelters. Fields stretch to the horizon, producing food to feed the world's most populous country.