‘Can You Feel A Big Love’: Part 3

Making (reusable and therefore eco-friendly) chopsticks the old-fashioned way. Photo: Trista di Genova
The following is a Part Three of a report by Taipei Medical University (TMU) International Students who attended Tzu Chi University’s Eco-awareness Camp. Team leader: Trista di Genova (US); with Olaiya Tunbosun (Nigeria), Van Tuyen Duong (Vietnam), Yudha Nur Patria (Indonesia).

Friday, Feb. 18:
Took 2-hour bus ride to Loshan. First we saw how tofu is made in Loshan, using its special salty spring water, and a machine to make a paste and drank dojiang, soymilk. The paste is put into a large round pan and stirred, brought to a boil, lecithin is added and it is strained and put into molds. Then we sampled it, and also carved our own chopsticks from bamboo, using exacto knives. We had lunch at Eco-station, which serves only organic soy dishes and vegetables and rice.

The first all-organic community in Taiwan. Locals decided that pesticides stripped the soil of all its nutrients and nature's 'buddies' like worms and such. Photo: Trista di Genova
Then with Charlie, a guide from the East Coast Administration, we took a hike in this community, Taiwan’s first organic area. About ten years ago, he said the villagers together decided they would not use pesticides, as pesticides kill worms, insects and other organic elements that enrich the soil. They knew that after an initial increase in production with pesticides, after three or so crops the ‘soil is dead’, completely robbed of nutrients, and people get cancers later on, too. So now this area produces high-grade organic rice, exported to Japan for 800nt/kilo rather than the 150nt/kilo of other less premium rice. The area also is well-regarded for its bird-watching (many species, some seen only here in this area, migrate through Southeast China, 2-3,000km). There is also excellent hiking on the wamalu trail.

Loshan Mud Volcano, slated for development into an eco-tourism site in about 5 years. Photo: Trista di Genova
Then we went to the Loshan Mud Volcano, an area which is expected to be developed into an eco-tourist area in 5 years. Bubbles appear in the mud and send up cool gas, which locals have successfully been using for cooking and daily needs. Charlie was unsure how this process was carried out, but pointed out how the tectonic plates between Southeast Asia and the Philippines intersect at this geographical spot. The clear springs nearby are not salty, it is only this area where this phenomenon occurs.

A sight-seeing trip was made to view a nearby waterfall. Tuyen learned how under the Japanese occupation, the largest trees were cut down from these forests.

We returned to campus for dinner and entertainment, finally discussion on our experiences at the camp. Olaiya suggested that TMU hold a similar environmental health camp; we could invite everyone back and do it again! Trista suggested additional topics for sessions: eco-tours, community gardening, nature walks with a plant expert; GM foods.

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