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food / travel

From Moscow, A Search For Meaning (And Money) In Organic Farming

Part of Moscow's new striving urban class has taken its ideas and energy to the farm. A different kind of Russian revolution.

Farmers in Kstovo, western Russia
Farmers in Kstovo, western Russia
Anastasia Karimova

MOSCOW — For Dmitry Klimov, a public relations specialist, the road to becoming a farmer started during the economic crisis. In 2010, he and a couple of colleagues decided to raise guinea fowl in the hopes of building a sideline business. But the market was not prepared for the traditional but relatively unknown bird. “We had 5,000 guinea fowl, and we were spending $10,000 per month on them,” he says. “We were certain that there would be a market. But no! We burned around $300,000.”

Klimov says his experience just proves that the revolution did in fact kill old Russian culinary traditions. He decided to get over the psychological consequences of his failure by going even further. He spent two months in Honduras and when he got home, he decided to try again. Now he and his partner, Andrei Ovchinnikov, rent a piece of land with a slightly run-down house in a village outside of Moscow.

After his experience with the guinea fowl, Klimov decided that his second attempt would be with more common birds. Now he has 600 chickens, and about 100 each of turkeys, ducks and geese. They built a small pond for the geese and ducks. “It cost us $3,000, but at least it’s nice for the birds!” Klimov says proudly. “We are only selling around five guinea fowl per week; on the previous farm we were selling a little bit more. The niche has been filled by the so-called guinea fowl broilers,” he complains.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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