Written by Angel Chao （趙于萱）, translated by Sam Robbins. In supermarkets in Thailand, you can find Thai hydroponic vegetables labelled as ‘Taiwanese greens.’ Why? Because these plants are grown in Thailand by Taiwanese businesspeople who brought Taiwanese hydroponic technology to Thailand, using Taiwanese equipment to grow crops in Thailand.
Written by Li Ching Chen, Translated by Sam Robbins. Hae works on a rice-duck farming cooperative in Yuanli. He wanted to take advantage of the fact that ducks eat rice pests and raise the ducks in the rice paddies. Although the idea was good in theory, there were many difficulties in practice. For example, he told me many of the dogs from the township started hunting the ducks. As ducks slowly waddled through the rice paddies, the dogs would start salivating.
Written by Szu-yu Lai, translated by Sam Robbins. When people in Taiwan think of indigenous communities, they think of millet, traditional clothing, and other stereotypical markers. However, from the story of Atayal tea farmers in Li Mountain, we can see that such static imaginings don’t bind indigenous peoples. Admitting to Taiwan’s rapidly changing culture and economy, cultivating tea became a way for Atayal people to reflect on their own culture and relationship with mainstream society. Although tea is not a part of the Atayal people’s traditional culture, it has slowly become a crucial part of how Atayal tribes market themselves through legal and economic changes.
Written by Yu-an Kuo 郭育安, translated by Sam Robbins. Despite being a common food in Taiwan, Taiwan’s climate makes it unsuitable for cultivating edible birds nest. Consumption of edible birds nest in Taiwan can be traced back over 200 years, but this consumption has always relied on imports. The product’s history in Taiwan is tied to the history of Dihua street in Taipei, which developed towards the end of the Qing dynasty. This street became a main sight for the selling of exported “Chinese goods” (華貨）in Taiwan, including Ginseng, Jujubees, louts seeds and shark fins. Official statistics suggest that Taiwan currently imports over 10 tonnes over birds nest each year, with over 90% being imported from Indonesia. However, this number is likely unreliable since the illegal smuggling of birds nest remains a constant problem in Taiwan.
Written by Hui-Tsen Hsiao (蕭慧岑）Translated by Sam Robbins. “They write up a sloppy official document that doesn’t even say anything meaningful, and now everything we’ve worked so hard to have has to go like that. You want us to demolish our own house, we cried and hugged as it happened. You’re a government agency, and you’re willing to let people go through this?” “And after we were forced to demolish our house, the debris from the house was even been set on fire” Ron added.
Written by Hsiao-Chun Hung. Professor Robert (Bob) Blust was a world-renowned linguist whose contributions will be sorely missed by his many colleagues. Bob’s ideas sometimes provoked controversy. Small groups sometimes seek fleeting moments of fame in academia by targeting well-known scholars, often without sufficient or relevant supporting evidence. This approach attracts attention as a “newsworthy” difference of opinion, at least temporarily, until it can be dispelled. Facing such challenges, Bob consistently retained stoic confidence in his scientific methodology, regardless of the enthusiasm of his critics.
Wrtitten by Po-Yi Hung. Where is the border of a country? To answer this question, we will often open a world atlas – or a national map of a specific country – to look at the boundaries drawn on the map. While we consult a world atlas or a national map to locate the borders of countries, we probably will also notice some “unsettled” borders between different countries. As you may have known, people have different opinions in drawing the borderline between Taiwan and China.
Written by Tsai Chia-Shen. Decades after opening to free trade, Taiwan’s food sufficiency rate has slid and maintained between 30-35% after 2003 (CoA 2020), reflecting a severe food insecurity status that has raised public concern over the quantity and quality of farmland. Although referring to other lately industrialised countries, it is prevalent that the agricultural share of GDP shrinks in the history of industrial transition, the decrease of employment in the agricultural sector still indicates the risk of losing food security, food sovereignty, and even State sovereignty.
Written by Sam Robbins. As alternative food movements continue to develop and food politics has risen higher on the political agenda in Taiwan, there is perhaps still more opportunities for growth and collaboration between those concerned with the future of how food is produced in Taiwan. For Chen, the primary concern is still sustainability and environmentally sensitive agriculture. Open data and open technology is just a means to the broader end of preparing Taiwan for an increasingly unstable climate future.
Written by I-Liang Wahn. Food plays a central role in Taiwanese culture, with the evolution of Taiwanese cuisine mixing multiple historical influences and constituting unique identities. But food is also increasingly a political topic and a field for solidarity economies. The politics of food was especially brought to the fore in three developments last year: a series of political events around food, the celebration of a milestone by two independent food media, and an academic conference devoted to food activism.
Although 2022 may be seen as the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, it has also marked the third year after Taiwan opened its agricultural labour market to Southeast Asian workers. It is widely known in Taiwan that small tenant farmers in the vegetable, fruit, and tea sectors and livestock farmers have been challenged by chronic shortages of seasonal labour.