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The many benefits of traditional foods

By Danielle Nierenberg and Laura Reynolds | China Daily | Updated: 2012-06-08 08:39

Soy sauce originated in China some 3,000 years ago. To produce it in the traditional way by fermenting soybeans, grains, and mold cultures in small batches, requires six months of patience and culinary skill. But today these methods have largely been replaced by a three-day process of boiling soybeans in acid for 15 to 20 hours, then adding preservatives and additives like corn syrup, caramel coloring, and salt, resulting in a less-subtle flavor and less-healthy product.

Preserving Chinese traditional foods not only provides a link to China's past and culture, it can also improve China's food security and help protect Chinese people's health, raise farmers' and food producers' incomes, and make the country more resilient to climate change.

Following a traditional Chinese diet can decrease the incidence of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and some types of cancers. Traditional Chinese foods, including bok choy, Chinese broccoli, mung beans, and Chinese cabbage are high in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, and low in sodium and saturated fat. And indigenous Chinese foods like garlic, ginger, and mung bean have been used as medicines in China for centuries, and are increasingly adopted as herbal remedies around the world for conditions ranging from indigestion to heart disease.

The many benefits of traditional foods

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