Despite reports of food safety and quality scandals, China has a rapidly expanding organic agriculture and food sector, and there is a revolution in ecological food and ethical eating in China’s cities. This book shows how a set of social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions have converged to shape the development of a "formal" organic sector, created by "top-down" state-developed standards and regulations, and an "informal" organic sector, created by ‘bottom-up’ grassroots struggles for safe, healthy, and sustainable food. This is generating a new civil movement focused on ecological agriculture and quality food.

Organic movements and markets have typically emerged in industrialized food systems that are characterized by private land ownership, declining small farm sectors, consolidated farm to retail chains, predominance of supermarket retail, standards and laws to safeguard food safety, and an active civil society sector. The authors contrast this with the Chinese context, with its unique version of "capitalism with social characteristics," collective farmland ownership, and predominance of smallholder agriculture and emerging diverse marketing channels. China’s experience also reflects a commitment to domestic food security, evolving food safety legislation, and a civil society with limited autonomy from a semi-authoritarian state that keeps shifting the terrain of what is permitted. The book will be of great interest to advanced students and researchers of agricultural and food systems and policy, as well as rural sociology and Chinese studies.

chapter 1|15 pages


BySteffanie Scott, Zhenzhong Si, Theresa Schumilas, Aijuan Chen

chapter 2|22 pages

Transformations in China’s food system

ByTheresa Schumilas, Zhenzhong Si, Aijuan Chen, Steffanie Scott

chapter 3|22 pages

Top-down initiatives

State support for ecological and organic agriculture in China
ByAijuan Chen, Steffanie Scott, Zhenzhong Si

chapter 4|21 pages

The farmers’ cooperative model in China’s ecological agriculture sector

ByAijuan Chen, Steffanie Scott

chapter 5|28 pages

Bottom-up initiatives

The emergence of “alternative” food networks
ByZhenzhong Si, Theresa Schumilas, Steffanie Scott

chapter 7|23 pages

Farmers’ markets as contested spaces

Case study of the Beijing Organic Farmers’ Market
ByZhenzhong Si

chapter 8|17 pages

Promising community organizing in China’s AFNs

ByTheresa Schumilas

chapter 9|31 pages

Rural development initiatives amid the food safety crisis

Strategies, challenges, and opportunities in the “New Rural Reconstruction Movement” in China
ByZhenzhong Si, Steffanie Scott

chapter 10|14 pages


ByZhenzhong Si, Steffanie Scott, Theresa Schumilas, Aijuan Chen

chapter |6 pages


Anecdotes of fieldwork – self-reflections from our diverse positionalities
BySteffanie Scott, Zhenzhong Si, Theresa Schumilas