At one restaurant in Beijing, market capitalism has found an answer to the city’s now legendary air pollution—ordering the right foods off the menu. While collectively dealing with the causes of pollution is not a political option available to Beijing residents, according to the restaurant menu the effects of the pollution can be addressed through correct individual consumption. On the menus at Jindingxuan Restaurant (金鼎轩地坛店) specific foods are designated as “resisting haze and clearing out toxins” (抗霾排毒)—specifically good for “saying no” to smog. The […]
The air pollution in Beijing regularly approaches apocalyptic levels many times those considered healthy by the WHO. The other day a cloud of smog so huge that it could be seen from space, blanketed the entire area. With the PM 2.5 count pushing 500, it was shocking to observe sunset conditions in the middle of the afternoon. Even the extraordinary, however, can become normalized and marketized. Case in point, the 7-11 around the corner from my hotel had a whole […]
Thanks to high levels of pollution in the air, today Beijing “enjoyed” a sunset that lasted much of the afternoon. Driving home sometime around 4pm, making our way through the clogged streets in the thick pollution, I couldn’t help imagine that I wasn’t in the present but in a not too distant post-apocalyptic future of environmental devastation. Then again, who said apocalypses have to arrive suddenly? Maybe they can creep up slowly like a car in Beijing traffic.
I have been mulling over and trying to make sense of what exactly took place at the Cultural Revolution theme restaurant that I visited last week. I have photos, video, and some notes I wrote after returning to my hotel room that night, but none of them help very much. I thought maybe some time to reflect would make a difference, but the past seven days have just made things seem even more unreal. It all comes back to one […]