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Communications and Marketing

Two students use grant to improve food safety in China

Food safety has been a rising concern for many people in China, following multiple scandals and cases of tainted food in recent years. Minxu Zhang ’12 and Lesley Gao ’13, both originally from China, have set out to help. After earning a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant, they are spending the summer in Hangzhou establishing a community-supported agriculture system based on local and organic foods.

“Our project will promote peace by providing consumers with a safe source of food,” the students wrote in their grant proposal, “raising the food-safety awareness of farmers and [potentially] resolving the conflict between farmers and consumers.”

While in China, Zhang and Gao have four main goals for their project, called Youzhitupin (Green Diet): hosting information sessions and workshops, establishing drop-off centers for local farmers, organizing two open-farm days, and developing an online community where users could purchase goods and connect with farmers.

“I hope to raise awareness of common consumers,” says Zhang, an economics and mathematics double-major, “giving them possible ways to get access to healthier, safer food. At the same time, I hope to help producers who are struggling with the market full of unsafe but cheap food.”

Through each of these, they expect consumers will learn more about the food they eat and farmers will be encouraged to grow more organic products.

“By establishing a direct selling-purchasing system, farmers will improve their profit and thus ensure the safety of the products,” Zhang and Gao suggest in their proposal. “Farmers and consumers will also build up a close relationship through this system, under which they will understand each other through peaceful communication.”

Ultimately, Zhang and Gao hope their work this summer will lead to the establishment of a non-profit organization, with membership fees sold by season.

Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates at the American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects, with the objective of encouraging and supporting today’s motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace.