How Does China Feed So Many People?

By Ella Chou

The short answer is that in the absence of large, mechanized, American-style corporate supply lines, most of China is fed by a massive, poorly supervised but surprisingly effective network of small farmers and middlemen. At the heart of that network are massive, freewheeling wholesale markets that help connect suppliers, middlemen, farmers and buyers.

I mention that because, Jonah Kessel, a Beijing-based freelance visual journalist, has put together a fascinating slideshow of images of one of the largest of these markets.  A 24/7 wholesale behemoth, the Xinfadi Agro-Product Wholesale Market supplies Beijing with 70 percent of its vegetables and 80 percent of its fruit. Given that 22 million people live in Beijing, that is a lot of food. Check out the photos below, and more at his blog.

Ella Chou, who grew up in Hangzhou, China, is a graduate student in Regional Studies-East Asia at Harvard, studying law and comparative politics.