Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2014

Helpers be Helped – Special Chinese New Year Double Issue 救救外傭 – 春節雙刊

The images are gruesome and the details are chilling. A woman held captive in a residence has been starved and beaten beyond recognition. Her teeth are chipped, cheekbones fractured and her limbs covered with cuts and burn marks. It sounds like the Ariel Castro kidnappings in suburban Cleveland or the Brixton Bookshop abduction in Lambeth, England – except it is not. It all happened in Tseung Kwan O, a densely populated community of high-rise residential blocks and large shopping centers. It was there 23-year-old Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was allegedly tortured at the hands of her Hong Kong employer for eight months. She was not paid a cent.

By now the story has captured the attention of the entire city – and far beyond. Not since Edward Snowden checked into the Mira Hotel last summer had so much spotlight been thrown on the not-so-Fragrant Harbour. Beneath the media frenzy and tabloid-style coverage, however, is the sad reality that Erwiana is not alone. In …

Hunger Game 飢餓遊戲

Every Chinese New Year I buy myself a tangerine tree for good luck. Ripe fruits fallen to the ground will mould and turn white and green within 36 hours.
Every Thanksgiving I roast a turkey big enough to feed twelve. Leftovers taste better the next day but will spoil by the week’s end even when kept in the fridge.


The unifying theme of these two unrelated household anecdotes is that unprocessed food does not last. Spoilage is part of nature’s metabolism. So how is it possible that the Valencia oranges on my kitchen counter look exactly the same as they did five weeks ago at the store, or that the expiration date stamped on a can of luncheon meat reads “March 2018”? I can’t help but wonder what really is in our food.
Our appetite for things that taste better, look nicer, last longer and cost less, from breakfast cereal to meat products and fresh produce, is insatiable. Consumer demand has spurred the growing use of pesticides, flavorings, colorings and preservatives in the food indu…