Studying the ecological agriculture sector in China

ducks in peddy field in NanningWelcome to our website about ecological agriculture and alternative food networks in China. We are a research team from the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo in Canada. People who are working or have worked in this team include the team leader Dr. Steffanie ScottDr. Zhenzhong Si, Dr. Theresa SchumilasDr. Aijuan Chen, PhD candidate Danshu QiNing Dai and Jodi Koberinski. We also collaborate with researchers from multiple Chinese universities. Here you can find the most recent updates about the greening of China's food system including the development of ecological farms, the emergence of ecological farmers' markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms and buying clubs and many other initiatives addressing the growing food security and food safety concerns of Chinese citizens. Please watch our Youtube video here for an overview of China's changing food system, and visit our research website to see our research broadly focused on China's Changing Food System.

Our book 

 Top-down and Bottom-up Ecological InitiativesOur book "Organic Food and Farming in China: Top-down and Bottom-up Ecological Initiatives" is published! You can now purchase a copy here (20% Discount Available - enter the code FLR40 at checkout). 

This book shows how a set of social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions have converged to shape the development of a "formal" organic sector, created by "top-down" state-developed standards and regulations, and an "informal" organic sector, created by ‘bottom-up’ grassroots struggles for safe, healthy, and sustainable food. This is generating a new civil movement focused on ecological agriculture and quality food.

The authors contrast organic movements and markets in industrialized countries with the Chinese context, with its unique version of "capitalism with social characteristics," collective farmland ownership, and predominance of smallholder agriculture and emerging diverse marketing channels. China’s experience also reflects a commitment to domestic food security, evolving food safety legislation, and a civil society with limited autonomy from a semi-authoritarian state that keeps shifting the terrain of what is permitted. The book will be of great interest to advanced students and researchers of agricultural and food systems and policy, as well as rural sociology and Chinese studies.

LinkedIn group discussion

logo of China's Changing Food System discussion groupWe are currently facilitating a LinkedIn Group called China’s Changing Food System. This group aims to open a space for people interested in social, economic, political, and ecological dimensions of transformations in China’s food system. It is a space for learning, exchange, debate, and networking. We welcome people with diverse backgrounds to participate in the discussion.

We welcome your feedback. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at

Our Book:

Organic Food and Farming in China book cover.Check out our book: Organic Food and Farming in China. Use FLR40 promo code to receive a 20% discount.

China's Changing Food System logo.

Meet our people

Steffanie Scott


Steffanie Scott is Professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Management in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo in Canada. She is past president of the Canadian Association for Food Studies, and is engaged in research on sustainable food systems in China and Canada. Her current research examines the different pathways to ecological agriculture development in Nanjing, China, including both industrialized large-scale and small scale entrepreneurial ecological food production and related initiatives. Her research has documented the emergence of the ecological agriculture sector and alternative food networks in China. She is also researching the urban food system and urban food security in Nanjing, China through the Hungry Cities Partnership. With Zhenzhong Si, she co-founded the LinkedIn group, China’s Changing Food System.