After Chinaís entry into WTO, the Chinese media has drawn a beautiful picture of how the Chinese people will improve the quality of their lives in an all-round way, with more choices in commodities, lower prices and better service.
These reports are pretty well substantiated, and not just a dream, but they do miss one important point: it will also be good for peopleís health as substandard foods will gradually be driven out of the market, and more nutritious food will become available. This reporter wrote an article about the difference between Western and Chinese food, pointing out that Westerners now tend to pay more attention to nutrition and health, while those of the East stress variety and taste. In fact, Japan focuses on both, especially the nutritional value of food. The Japanese government grasped two things after the war: to expand the high-technology element of its industry and raise the physical quality of its people to work better. Nutritionists work in every corner of the nation so that Japanís rapid development after the 1960s has had a lot to do with these two policies.
In China, various specialists are available: engineers, economic administrators, human relations coordinators -- all except nutritionists. Some people look down on their expertise, asking: why do we need them? Who doesnít know how to cook a meal?
Nutrition is a branch of learning, which studies how to equilibrate, complement and balance nutritional intake. It not only tells people to eat delicious food, but also encourages them to have proper diet. The nutritionists calculate the quantity of heat that a human needs daily according to his or her age, height, weight, and constitution. They also tell people what food contains amino acid, minerals, and vitamins essential to the human body. Not every one knows what constitutes a scientific diet. Ordinary people understand that itís better to eat more vegetables and less meat. This is only the basic knowledge and is far from creating a scientifically balanced diet.
Itís true that we have a long history of dietetic culture and take our culinary skills seriously. However, a chef cannot take the place of dietitians.
Nowadays, many big hospitals have nutritionists, mainly to rearrange the diet for diabetics and seriously ill patients. We still need to do more to help families, restaurants and hotels be more aware of nutrition. The government also needs to take effective measures to popularize nutritional knowledge.
(人民日报 [Peopleís Daily] by Liao Zhunan, translated by Shan Xingmei for china.org.cn）