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Chinese people brainstorming to eat cheaper food

http://www.chinese.cn 10:10, November 19, 2010 Xinhua News Agency

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Citizens in Haikou city had never before been so keen about growing their own vegetables.

But a close look into the green belt would betray their secret.

Instead of rose and Chinese redbud, the plants being grown were eggplant, spring onion, radish, Chinese cabbage, and others.

"We have already harvested the cole and eggplant twice. Now we almost do not need to buy vegetables," said Lin Xiaofeng from the provincial capital city of south China's island Hainan Province.

Lin's family's monthly income was a little more than 1,000 yuan, but data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that prices of radishes, cucumbers and Chinese cabbage had soared by about 30 percent since October.

So Lin started growing vegetables in mid October.

Another citizen, a Ms Zhang, not only grows vegetable for herself, but offers them as gifts to others.

"Now a bunch of greens cost 3.5 yuan in supermarket, too expensive for some who earned barely some 1,000 yuan a month," she said while watering her garden.

Located in the tropical zone, Hainan is China's winter vegetable base.

But the rising vegetable prices, which began increasing this autumn, have driven many people there to grow vegetables themselves.

In other places like Fujian, Henan and Shaanxi Provinces, people grow vegetables in the streets, their courtyards or on their balconies. Also, some people who believe that flowerpots are too small for vegetables use discarded bath tubs for planting their gardens.

Of note, China's CPI hit a 25-month high of 4.4 percent in October. Food prices, accounting for 74 percent of the weight in calculating the CPI in China, rose 10.1 percent during the month. Data showed that the price of vegetables climbed by 31 percent, and those of fruit rose by 17.7 percent.

According to Yuan Gangming, an economics researcher with Tsinghua University, China has experienced five rounds of price surges in the past, with the largest in 1988.

In that year, prices in some places were out of control. People flooded into markets, making panic purchase of necessities like oil and salt, purchasing enough for a year.

Price hikes this year have also worried ordinary people, as well.

On the Internet, a question asking "What can people buy with 100 yuan?" attracted the interest of many netizens.

"In 2000 I invited a friend to dinner. We ate a lot with just 50 yuan," said a lady surnamed Zhou. "Now that a bottle of peanut oil costs 98 yuan, with 100 yuan you dare not go out with a friend."

At that time, Zhou, who was in college, spent 200 to 300 per month as board expenses. But today a dinner for three at KFC could cost 100 yuan.

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