News - August 13, 2015

Rich country, poor hygiene

I already knew that the Netherlands is a rich, well-organized country with a clean environment. But I am very surprised to see that people here do not worry at all about the quality and safety of their food.

It took me nearly six months to get used to taking bread and cheese for lunch. I do it now, but I eat my sandwiches from the plastic bag, not out of my hands. My Dutch colleagues, however, don’t worry about eating from their hands. They even put their sandwiches on the wooden lunch tables outside, which are exposed to the air and wind. I think the tables are dirty, but the Dutch seem to have a different take on this. I have even seen them picking up the breadcrumbs from the table and putting them into their mouths. This left me speechless.

It also amazes me how people here ‘clean’ an apple by rubbing it on their clothes. In China, we usually wash and peel apples before eating them. And some fruits, like grapes and cherries, we even soak for around ten minutes in water to which we add wheat flour or salt. We are worried about the pesticides. I wonder whether Dutch people think that a bit of rubbing will get rid of the pesticides. Huicui Lu, PhD candidate in the Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group

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