from edible geography

The Pickle Index

By NICOLA | Published: AUGUST 14, 2013

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IMAGE: Two heads of whole zha cai with chilli paste; photograph by Sjschen via Wikipedia.

Chinese officials, charged with moving 250 million rural farmers into cities over the next decade under the central government’s sweeping “National Plan for Promoting Healthy Urbanization (2011-20),” have developed a “pickle index” for measuring the movement of migrant workers.

According to the South China Morning Post, the country’s National Development and Reform Commission has found that sales of zha cai, a pickled mustard tuber, provide a better guide to population flows than often unreliable provincial statistical data. As an unnamed planner explained to the Economic Observer:

Under normal circumstances, urban consumption levels of convenience foods such as instant noodles and pickled mustard is essentially constant. Therefore, we can assume that volume changes are mainly caused by a city’s floating population.

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