The last vestige of the 'Winter Vegetable Headquarters' closed its doors in northwest China this winter, symbolically heralding a welcome end to the "days of scarcity" common under the old economic system and during the transition of China to a market economy. In many northern Chinese provinces, the winter is harsh and long lasting, and few people can afford to grow vegetables in greenhouses. This led Communist authorities to establish municipal headquarters from which produce supply could be co-ordinated and controlled.