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The other week I had a chance to discuss nutrition with the doctors at my hospital. As we looked at beverages and snacks, many of them were surprised to see that the healthy choices they thought they had been making, weren’t so great. For example, every single one of the 30 doctors was shocked to learn that a bowl of instant noodles had twice as much sodium and much more fat than a grilled chicken sandwich from KFC. The general agreement was that if they were misinformed about nutrition, than the public would probably be even less informed. A large part of the problem was that nutritional information was either absent or not in a standard, easy to understand format. China’s urban areas are now facing […]


In China, white people get an inexplicably large amount of respect simply by being white (I didn’t use “foreigners” here because people with darker skin are typically excluded from these “perks” regardless of their country of origin). You get preferential treatment when it comes time to find a job (often making several times what your Chinese counterpart makes)and even in Chengdu, a city with a decent number of foreigners, Casey and I were offered positions as “marketing managers” for a wine company while we shopped at a supermarket. A few months ago, I was offered a spot in an advertisement for a nearby restaurant. For reading a few lines in Chinese I would have received 2,000RMB (close to what a factory worker earns in a month), and a scrumptious banquet […]


As most of you know, I’m in the States for a few weeks visiting family. During my time here, I’ve realized just how much interest there is in China at the moment, and how little people know about China. So today I’m going to share my answers to the three questions I’ve been asked the most. 1. Does China have rich people? China has some incredibly rich people, but the bar is lower to be considered rich. A few months ago China’s first yacht club opened up and the requirement for joining was a yearly salary of 200,000rmb (about $30,000). So by this measure a good chunk of Americans would be considered rich, but the top doctors at my hospital wouldn’t make the cut. The […]


This week’s story has me scratching my head. Apparently a lot is going to change between now and 2030, when supposedly 2/3 of China is going to be overweight. Now I’m not saying that Chinese people aren’t getting bigger, they are. When I arrived in 2007 people were complaining that McDonald’s and KFC were making the children fatter, but that’s only part of the story. Really, it’s the parents’ new found wealth that has changed the diet from mostly rice and vegetables with a few slivers of meat to something that more closely resembles American portions. There is even a noticeable difference in size between people from the countryside and those from the city (both in height and weight), which further shows that it is […]


This is part three of a three part series. Part One. Part Two. It’s not surprising that a plan that has supposedly prevented almost 400 million births (more than the entire population of the US), has also caused some side effects that have changed every stage of life. One of the big side effects has been a drastic change in family relationships. As you have probably heard, Chinese families have one child and four grandparents. That tied with China’s growing wealth has led to unfathomable levels of spoiling (sadly not an official measure yet). In China, McDonalds and KFC are considered relatively expensive outside of the major cities, yet in even smaller, poorer areas, you see grandparents and parents shelling out the big bucks on […]


It’s Christmas Eve here in China, since we are 13 hours ahead of New York, and a full 17 hours ahead of Seattle. My Chinese co-worker, Grace, is attending her daughter’s class Christmas party. Which includes a small gift exchange, performances and food ordered from KFC (at the parents’ expense of course). Grace and her daughter have prepared this cookie song (below), after which they will hand out knock off Oreos to all the other children. The rough idea of the song is about making cookies and then eating them. (“Little friends, isn’t it interesting to make cookies?!”) One of my students/doctors, is going to be taking his family out for a nice dinner on Christmas eve (ironically in China they all eat western food on […]


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