Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Japanese Food System Experience (So Far)

Greetings from Hayashima, Japan!

It's been about a month and a half since I left Connecticut to spend a year teaching English in Japan, and in that time I (and my stomach) have begun to get used to life here. I am by no means an expert on Japan's food system at this point, nor will I likely ever be, but there are some similarities and differences between the American way of producing and consuming food and the Japanese way of doing so that became clear almost as soon as I arrived.

Similarity: Both Japan and the United States have a country-wide food distribution network
This is a picture of Marunaka, a supermarket chain with a store right here in my town. This particular picture isn't of my town's store, but the one in Hayashima looks similar. There is parking available for both bikes and cars as many people (myself included) ride bikes around town. Marunaka stocks foods and household goods from all over Japan and is fairly sizable, although nowhere near as giant as a Costco or Super Walmart. Since arriving in Japan I haven't heard of or seen anything like that.

Difference: Japan's food distribution network focuses heavily on Japanese products
Or at least it does in my experience so far. And not only does it focus on Japanese-grown products, but also regional and local products. The Pione grape and white peach are both specialties of the region I am living in, and are available, seasonally, right as you walk into the store. Local fish from the inland sea near my town makes up a large percentage of the seafood selection, and even dry goods like rice have labels displaying what prefecture the grains came from.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Organic Agriculture and Thinking in three parts, By Bill Duesing, Organic Advocate

By Bill Duesing, Organic Advocate

Organic Agriculture and Thinking in three parts

1. Use Nature’s methods/work with Nature. 
2. Pay attention to:
  • where things come from
  • where things go, and
  • what the effects are at both ends and along the way.
3. Think holistically.

For years I’ve used these three points to illustrate what organic agriculture is and by extension what an organic attitude for living on this beautiful planet should be.

They have held up very well over time.