food

Organic food rarely found on Japan’s tables

64 Comments
By Justin McCurry for EURObiZ Japan

When it comes to a search for high-quality food, Japanese consumers have an unrivalled reputation for discernment. Yet when organic produce enters the picture, they lag far behind their counterparts in Europe and the U.S.

Granted, the past few years have seen the appearance in Tokyo and other cities of cafés, restaurants and shops selling food free of pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals. However, organics still represent a tiny dot on the wider food landscape.

The data certainly bears that out. As of last year, organics accounted for a mere 0.4% of the total domestic food market — worth a staggering $820 billion — compared to the global average of 2%.

Japan barely registers on the global organics rankings. Those are dominated by Europe and the US, with each accounting for 45% of the international market. Japan lags way behind at a mere 2%.

In some respects, the conditions should be ripe for organic food to make a bigger impact in Japan’s huge retail sector. The March 2011 accident at Fukushima gave rise to fears about food safety, as have a slew of food safety scares involving mainly imported products.

And while Japanese shoppers possess an unshakeable faith in value for money, they have demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile, financially, for superior produce. Still, public discussion of the importance of provenance and quality control has not been matched by serious consideration of how produce is grown or reared before it ends up on millions of Japanese dinner tables.

Despite its slow start, though, the organics revolution may finally be creating ripples in Japan, thanks to a sustained campaign by European firms to educate consumers and to work in partnership with domestic retailers.

One of the torchbearers is the MIE Project, whose range of organic produce ranges from chocolate and energy bars to tea, coffee and soya milk. “My guess is that the total organic food market in Japan is worth about €1 billion, which is fairly insignificant; and when you compare Japan to countries like Denmark, where 8% of the food market is certified as organic, you can see the difference in penetration,” says Duco Delgorge, president and chief executive of Project MIE.

But Delgorge says he has witnessed a shift in attitudes among Japanese retailers and, by extension, their customers, in the decade since he launched the firm in Japan.

“The situation is evolving, and we’re making steady progress,” he says. “We’re starting to see more premium supermarkets and health food stores selling organic food, and bigger and better ranges of imported organic produce.”

Organic food is also being taken more seriously by online retailers, such as Rakuten and Amazon, and by delivery firms including Radish Boya and Daiichi Mamorukai.

Despite the growth of chains such as Natural House and Lawson Natural, there is nothing in Japan that compares to the organic brands that have made such impressive inroads into the European market, or to say, Whole Foods in the US.

If the global market has been helped by greater awareness of the health and environmental benefits of organic food, in Japan, more is made of the consistently high quality of imported organic produce, says Thierry Cohen, president of Japan Europe Trading, whose suppliers include the firm’s own range of Italian organic products sold under the brand name Solleone Bio.

“When I first mentioned ‘organic’ to our sales people here, I was greeted by blank looks; but their attitude changed when I said it was all about high-end, quality products,” says Cohen.

He concedes that Japanese retailers still need convincing that consumers will pay more for products, particularly as they have yet to grasp that organic food is of a higher quality.

Even so, about 100 restaurants in Japan now use his firm’s organic pasta. “We told them that it’s not just about something being organic, but that it’s more nutritious than ordinary pasta, easier to digest and so on,” he says. “The reception was good because the products are of a high quality, not necessarily because they’re organic.”

He shares the widely held view among European importers that the real impetus for a shift to organics must come from Japan’s own agricultural sector.

The signs are not encouraging. In a country where the food self-sufficiency rate is already a lowly 40% on a calorie-basis — and where downward pressure on agricultural employment is firmly entrenched — there is precious little room for organics.

In its 2014 report on the Japanese business environment, the European Business Council (EBC) repeated calls to abolish both tariffs on organic food and the requirement to secure individual certificates from the Japanese authorities for every shipment of food certified as organic in Japan and awarded a Japan Agricultural Standard (JAS) certificate confirming its organic status. Instead, the EBC says, JAS marks should be issued on an annual basis.

The council, however, applauded the Japanese government’s 2013 decision to abolish a supplementary certificate — issued for every shipment by the embassy of the product’s country of origin — that added to costs and caused supply delays.

“The government could do more to encourage Japanese producers to grow more organic food, and that would have a knock-on effect,” adds Cohen, who suggests looking at European-style subsidies for organic producers.

Inevitably, the mixed fortunes of organic products in Japan are tied to their comparatively high price at a time of continuing economic uncertainty. The high import duties imposed on items such as chocolate and condiments put items that are already on the pricey side in their countries of origin beyond the reach of many Japanese consumers.

That won’t deter importers from continuing their quest for a breakthrough, says Guillaume Calloud, managing director Nichifutsu Boeki, whose organic food inventory includes Alce Nero pasta from Italy. “Organic food is creating a small wave here — there is a slightly greater perception of the organic movement,” he says, adding that the supermarket giant Aeon had recently launched its own range of about 80 organic products.

“And to be honest, it’s easier to do business here in the organic market than it is in South Korea and China,” Calloud adds. “It’s all relative.”

Delgorge, too, is optimistic about the future of organics in Japan, but accepts that a revolutionary change is unlikely. “There will be change as long as there is evolution here on the retail side and organic food is being talked about more in the media,” he says.

Roy Larke, senior lecturer at Waikato University in New Zealand, adds that while Japanese and EU officials discuss lower tariffs on food — including organics — at on-going FTA talks, foreign suppliers and their Japanese partners could do more to advance their cause by rethinking such basics as packaging.

“It’s still common for overseas firms to believe their presentation is good enough elsewhere, so naturally good enough for Japan,” says Larke, an expert on Japanese retailing and consumer behaviour. “Sometimes it is; but when a Japanese partner says it isn’t, it’s worth listening and upgrading, even if it means the sale price also has to rise.”

© Japan Today

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64 Comments
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The food produced on family farms in Japan is way better than the corporate farms in the Western.

Thanks primarily to the fact that Monsanto doesn't have a strong presence here.

5 ( +13 / -7 )

Bhutan is 70%+ organic now and is planning to go 100% organic.

Japan has many small farms and good water/soil quality = could easily trend organic fast.

The wheat from Europe has less auto-immune gluten issues than North American wheat so in that way it is a better choice for some.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

For organics to make inroads, the influence of the chemical industry must be checked and a study about the industrial food system and agriculture should be introduced in schools so children can learn and then educate their parents, which will change consumer attitudes and business practices. Sadly, this will never happen under the neo-liberal Abe regime.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Thanks primarily to the fact that Monsanto doesn't have a strong presence here.

Which has nothing to do with organic. With all the small farmers here organic should be relatively easy to change to but delivery problems and costs make it difficult to do on a large scale.

Plus with over 60% of the food in Japan being imported, organic foods would more than likely be driven into a niche market and only the people with cash to afford it would possibly purchase it. With an ever growing elderly population and an increasing income gap it makes organic even more difficult to be profitable large scale.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Well, with JA firmly in control, they make a lot of money pushing (forcing?) the chemicals.

Yubaru, since we're talking fresh veggies and fruits here, I'm not sure the 60% would apply.

Furthermore, I think there are a lot more on-line organic purchases than we know of, and this "Eurobiz" article "Japan lags way behind at a mere 2%" wouldn't know of either.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Thanks primarily to the fact that Monsanto doesn't have a strong presence here.

BB, just because farms are small here doesn't mean they don't use much chemical, just saying!!

Pears here for example are sprayed a LOT upwards to around 30times a season for mold & insects! No wonder Japanese don't eat the skin on may fruits etc!!!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

This is why we buy our groceries from farmer's markets and very rarely shop at supermarkets. In the market you know what you are getting. There is a small but thriving market that sells organic produce from local farmers. It's a little more expensive, but the quality is really good and, as I said, we know what we are getting.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Look, let's put to bed this idea that Japanese are particularly discerning when it comes to food. They are not. They get what they are given. The numerous scandals based on deception go some way to proving that. They had no idea their expensive choices were subverted by a cheap substitute. But there is little demand in restaurants for information about what goes in the food anyway. In fact, most consumers could not care less. They rely on their sense of taste to decide whether it is good or not ("oishii" is the defining approval) and there are people involved in the food industry whose sole job it is to deceive that sense of taste. And they do it extremely well with most of the industrial food that is served up here. We need a total revolution in food sense and literacy here before things will change. I personally have no faith in any restaurants in Japan, especially as a vegetarian.

7 ( +13 / -7 )

It should be noted that the often quoted figure of 40% domestic food self-sufficiency / 60% food imported is both misunderstood and inaccurate.

For one, Japanese vegetable production (for which this article mainly talks about) is quite high, in the neighborhood of 90% (outside of Costco one rarely sees a variety of imported fresh produce at a supermarket, though restaurants, particularly chains, serve lots of it). And as this is a calorie based figure, it should also be noted that not only are vegetables low in calories, but Japan also imports a large portion of its cooking oil, which is at the top end of calorie by volume.

But more importantly, the measure for which Japan gets this 40/60 figure not only includes livestock (cows, pigs, chickens), but if the animals raised in Japan eat imported feed then their meat is not part of the domestic production figure. Few countries in the world measure in a calorie-based way, and if Japan measured on a value-based scale (like the rest of the world) then it would have a near 70% domestic production rate, on par with Germany and Switzerland.

Trying to increase domestic food self-sufficiency should not be as much of a concern as increasing food supply diversity. Food shortages tend to come from natural disasters or environmental effects, and it'd be safe to say that Japan has experienced those from time to time.

Therefore, the government has shifted its focus in recent years (an actual positive sign of Abenomics?) to focus more on increasing the food value measure so that farmers can earn more. This is usually done through quality (or perceived quality), and organic is surely a way to do that. However much of the food in small Japanese farms is already near-organic, and the "certified organic" stamp can be loosely interpreted country by country (yes, some pesticides were probably used in those organic Italian vegetables the guy above imports). But what wasn't mentioned above in this article/advertisement is that the organic label implies that the food is healthier/safer/tastier but this has already been proven false by both science and (in the case of J-vegs) my tongue.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

This is why we buy our groceries from farmer's markets and very rarely shop at supermarkets. In the market you know what you are getting

You are seriously deceived if you think that farmers here do not use some type of pesticides or chemical fertilizer. The climate alone makes it a challenge to grow vegetables with all the different types of bugs and other problems associated with the high heat and humidity.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

They fail to mention that Japan has a very strict use of pesticides. It is really low compared to other countries. Residue on produce are restricted to 0.01ppm, maximum. http://www.ffcr.or.jp/zaidan/FFCRHOME.nsf/pages/MRLs-p

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Supey11

And as this is a calorie based figure

Yep!

I'll never give up my organic carrots and tomatoes for taste and higher concentration of nutrients, and potatoes, pears (not Nishi) and apples cuz I love the skins so much. I'm lucky my retired father-in-law is an organic hobby farmer, plus the baskets of Micans are a joy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs.

-13 ( +6 / -18 )

And another thing, even where labeling is required, in supermarkets for example, some things can be omitted or just referred to as "flavourings". There is no idea either that some additives and chemicals are allowed in Japan but banned elsewhere (salmon colouring, for example). The ever-present assumption, stoked by the bureaucracy, is that food is safe or even close to being organic and that no other country has such exacting standards for safety and quality. The occasional scandal of finding chemical X on some imported food bolsters this claim. There might be some underlying suspicion, and hence Japanese tend to peel everything and throw away most of the nutrients, but this is generally believed. Meanwhile, when it is floated that perhaps we could be more forthright in the information disclosed about what chemicals are added the farmers and bureaucrats suck their teeth and say, "But we don't want to confuse the consumer," thus showing the absolute contempt in which the consumer is held.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Japan uses millions of tonnes of agri-chemicals.

A lot of the (most) organic produce here would not pass the stringent certification necessary to be called such in EU, Australia, NZ etc.There is no national standardized system or anything remotely close to it. My friend is a low chemical famer. She grows an interesting variety plus some staples. She has said it's almost impossible to use no chemicals esp in the hot / wet summer. She told me it's necessary to spray cabbages 30 times, so she doesn't grow any vegetables that require such doseage.

In addition, probably to many peoples surprise, mis-labelling, mis-reporting or understating is still common.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Osaka KittyKat. Would that be for unlisted chemicals or across the board? Is that the official figure or the one in practice? Does this apply to all vegetables or just the ones imported? How and when does this testing go on?

You will excuse my cynicism but I was in Japan for a long time and know there is always an official tatemae and then reality, as well as one rule for insiders and another for outsiders. Of course, Japanese want to believe their standards are high. This feeling is almost a patriotic duty but until there are more independent assessors of everything including food quality in Japan they might as well be just believing want they want to believe.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

as I said, we know what we are getting.

You really believe that?! Laughable.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs.

I often hear this kind of nonsense from a certain type of Japanese person.

Usually their experience of "the world" is a trip to Guam.

It never fails to make me laugh.

9 ( +15 / -7 )

Hearsay and assumptions about agro-chemicals both in Japan and abroad are rife with potholes. "Tons of chemicals", "unlisted chemicals", who allows what and how much... The fact is that ALL countries use chemicals, lots of them, and the fact that only 2% of the world market (as stated above) and 8% of Denmark (probably the highest example) is organic glosses over the fact that those numbers are still 98% and 92% respectively for agro-chemical non-organic.

So lets look at a couple other factors that may shed some light. First, Parknson's disease. Though the exact causes are not perfectly understood, it is strongly connected with pesticide use. The US and Canada have about double the rate of Japan, while US supply countries (Mexico/Central America) are even higher. Much of western Europe is about the same as Japan, but European supply countries (East Europe, North Africa) way way higher. Australia is also about the same as Japan, but good on you NZ for being much lower. (once again, all hail the Kiwis...)

For another test lets compare some common produce. Do your potatoes ever sprout after a week or two like mine in Japan do? Guess what, those that don't (in the US and Canada) are doused with "tons of chemicals" to prevent that. Do your strawberries get mold after a couple days or so like mine in Japan do? Guess what, those in the US don't (even after a week or more) as they are doused with "tons of chemicals" (ever wonder how it is that Costco in Japan can sell huge packs of cheap US strawberries, one of the most sensitive and perishable foods in the world?). Go get some broccoli. It's pretty common to find the US stuff sitting next to the J-produced stuff in a regular supermarket. Buy both and compare the taste. I assure you, even if you have the taste-buds of a 2-pack-a-day smoker, you will never get the US stuff again (and like the strawberries, how is it they can haul fresh broccoli half-way around the world without it rotting and still be half the cost?) Try the same with Japanese/Philippine okra, or Thai/Okinawan mangos. I'd say the same thing with fresh tomatoes or corn, but Japan doesn't really import those.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Mitsuo Matsuyama:

Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs.

Is this your personal opinion, or based on comprehensive and published research? If the former, can you describe your knowledge and experience? If the latter, I'd love to see a link, please.

2 ( +4 / -3 )

I ride my bike daily around the flats farming areas where ever I am working. during my ride I always buy my veggies direct from the farmers. I always come across tiny stalls outside these farming lots. These tiny stalls are full of the rejected produce which are of odd shapes and blemishes. I am always checking out what use of pesticides there is on these farms. I have never yet found a farm using Pesticides but most do use herbicides. How do you class Organic produce. In Europe, produce using herbicides are class as Organic. I have no worries about Herbicides produce. I feel that a high percentage of local produce can be class as Organic but the farmers just do not see the value in getting their farms class as Organic which is a extra cost to on there margins. In todays world the word Organic is over uses and is a way to extend margins on there sales.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A good friend of mine has a dairy farm near Naha. His mother grows vegetables there. She doesn't use any pesticides whatsoever. Her beans, handama, fuuchiba, potatoes and leaf vegetables have real taste.

The lady opposite grows goya and tomatoes in her back garden. She is proud of the fact that she doesn't use pesticides. She gives us goya and tomatoes and we give her bread or something else my wife or I have made.

We have another neighbour who gives us baskets full of shiikuwasa in season. Again, no pesticides used.

There are farmers who grow products for sale in the local markets that are grown similarly.

In contrast, the same vegetables in the local supermarkets are watery and tasteless.

If you ask around, you can usually find a source of produce that is grown with little or no pesticide.

Even in cities.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Organic food sounds nice, but I doubt very much it can be produced in suffient quantity to replace the current supply. At least Japan is free from the Monsanto nightmare of sterile seeds and "roundup"-drenched crops. Or am I too optimistic there?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese farmers are among the world's biggest users of pesticides and other chemicals, I read in a Reuters article.

The reasons are the small farms, which need to squeeze out productivity from small bits of land and are lighted staffed, the humid climate, which produces a vast range of bugs and mold, and the importance of visual presentation on the retail side.

Japanese consumers may think they are picky and astute, but in fact they're duped by the govt and media propaganda who wont let them know about the facts above.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A good friend of mine has a dairy farm near Naha.

Dairy farms near Naha? You shoveling what they are producing?

Dairy farms in Okinawa are slave pens, the cows are kept in barns nearly 24/7 and no room to move around, some friend.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

The racket that JA is running is not in the article? What? If you don't buy and use their chemicals and pesticides, your product is banned from sale in their virtual monopoly. And that folks is reason number one why things are not going to change any time soon. JA is not about give up that strangle hold.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Jefflee. Where did they obtain there data on small allotments Japanese Farmer using pesticides. Did they take sample directly off the supermarket shelves where the origin of the produce is not stated or the farm itself. Have you been out on these small farm lots and checked out if this is true. I have and quite regularly as I have stated. I grew up using Pestisded on my family rice and cotton plantation in Australia. I know when Farmer are using Pesticide because NOTHING LIVES when applied, I know how pesticides are stored, I know what container to look for and I know how the read the chemical identification data printed on the containers and it is a international standard. If anything there may be radiation fall out. You state data which you can not back up. Are you being a scaremonger ?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In contrast, the same vegetables in the local supermarkets are watery and tasteless.

Just about every major AEON or MaxValu on island contracts with local producers and they bring in their vegetables for sale daily. They are cheaper and better managed and one can get information about their products and farms from information posted in the sales area, plus ALL the price tags carry the name of the individual producer/farmer.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"And while Japanese shoppers possess an unshakeable faith in value for money, they have demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile, financially, for superior produce."

No... they will go the extra mile financially for what they THINK is the superior produce. Take radioactive food from Fukushima and tell them it's Kyo-yasai and they'll bit into it and shout "Umai!" and talk about the unique Japanese palette. The best, and safest route is locally produced stuff (outside of the Fukushima-affected areas), and farmers you can count on. But this is a nation where most people will line up for an hour and pay a fortune for something because they are told to and told it is delicious. As such, they do not have an unshakeable faith in value for money, nor do they get superior produce in most cases.

If you have ever tried to do a detox diet, be a (strict) vegetarian, or in general avoid MSG, gluten additives, and/or preservatives, it is nearly impossible to live in this nation.

Mitsu Matsuyama: "Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs."

This is usually the type of comment made by a nationalist who has rarely or never stepped outside of Japan, eats ONLY Japanese food (and hence cannot compare), and watches TV shows about Japanese tarento traveling abroad and eating, and also scrutinizes outside opinion of Japan and its goods; praising the nation if it's positive, and ignoring it if it's negative. It's the kind of comment that someone who, say, if South Korea or Taiwan banned products from around Fukushima because Japanese companies have lied about radiation and mislabeled food products, would throw a fit and blame the other nations.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yubaru: But it don,t state the origin of Country which is easy to get around. The Producer Import the produce and he is allow to state there name and Farming company. Orange juice is one example. They import the concentrate Juice add Japanese water, Now in a Japanese product. Eel is another one. They import them and fatten them up in Japan. There is many way they fool people of what they are actually buying. Take the Aussie Beef in which is state Aussie beef which it actually is but do they tell you that it is slaughtered and package in Vietnam. No they don,t have too and if they did no-one will buy it. The food industry is rife with their way they label there produce or products.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Supey - there certainly is a lot of "hearsay" re ag chemical use here and worldwide.

But as this article is about Japan and the production of organic fresh foods, a basic fact about here - Japan - is;

Japans use of pesticides at 13.1 kg / arable hectare (2005 ~ 9) , places it in the world wide top useage group.

This in a generally compact, intensive farming country means a very large proportion of fresh produce has had chemicals applied, which in turn creates enormous problems for successful organic production. An often misunderstood point is that it is difficult to be a truly organic producer if your neighbours don't follow suit.

Headways are slowly being made though.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Pesticide-ridden food mutate your genes! heheheh

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese agriculture use some of the highest levels of pesticides and hebicides of any country. Ranked 4th and 7th respectively i think I remember seeing in official WHO figures.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japanese agriculture use some of the highest levels of pesticides and hebicides of any country. Ranked 4th and 7th respectively i think I remember seeing in official WHO figures.

Don't tell that to the folks that think their local farmers market is organic. It's amazing that supposedly intelligent people are so easily taken in by the aura that they created for the Japanese and like to think that Japan is above using these pesticides and herbicides.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As JeffLee says, Japanese farmers use lots of chemicals. The highest profile farmers, the rice growers, use way way more than farmers in the rest of Asia. They do so because 90% of them are part timers whose main income is either their pension or another job they do in construction, at a factory, at local government, at JA, at retail (Lawsons etc) or any other inaka employer. So they don't spend very much time farming and substitute for labour whenever they can, using chemicals and machines. The vast majority do not even bother to grow their own rice seedlings, a very simple task you can do on the edge of your paddy. They just buy them from JA, just as a housewife would buy a tomato plant at a home center. Asian rice farmers getting way less money for their crop than Japanese farmers do not have the money to buy chemicals and other inputs, even if they wanted them. It's them that work in the fields all day, not Japanese farmers.

As also mentioned, Japanese farmers spray some fruit upwards of 20 times. I've been to a nashi farm, and rather than buy the simple 10-10-10 (npk) chemical fertilizers you see at JA or a home center, they had bags and bags of two types of dedicated chem fertilizer in printed bags marked "nashi", meaning that there must be a separate market for chemical fertilizer just for that relatively minor fruit. I would imagine the same goes for most other produce when you get to full on commercial production. All the really nasty ag chemicals, pesicides, fungicides, and more hardcore than Round Up herbicides come in bottles they sell in a locked up cabinet at JA. Farmers dress up in Hazmat type gear when they do the spraying. You won't find anything as strong in your local Komeri or Cainz Home. They only sell weak stuff for householders.

As a final point, organic can mean "grown in acres and acres of poly houses (see Spain)" or "grown indoors hydroponically under LED" or "high in food miles" or "grown on some land extorted out of a tribe and draining their aquifer", so organic can still involve high CO2 and other problems. Some carrots grown down the road with a bit of chemical npk assistance might be better in the big picture.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

kohakuebisu, your information is spot on! Sadly however people are taken in with an "image" vs reality. That image extends to just about every sector of the market and people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of the truth vs the fantasy.

It's a cultural thing and sadly too many buy into that image. Just like the poster about the dairy farm. If anyone actually saw a dairy farm down here in Okinawa they should by all rights go nuts at how the animals are literally caged all their productive lives, it's just easier to overlook and "forgive" because it's Japan and "their" way.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

YubaruMAY. 24, 2015 - 07:27PM Don't tell that to the folks that think their local farmers market is organic. It's amazing that supposedly intelligent people are so easily taken in by the aura that they created for the Japanese and like to think that Japan is above using these pesticides and herbicides.

<Just because YOU have no idea of where your food comes from or how it's grown, doesn't mean everyone else is the same! We get are fruit & vegetables from relatives (in three different locations) and they only grow organic produce. I help at each location and can tell you for sure, there are NO chemicals on there property, nor do they hire anyone to spray poisons. All three of these farms also sell their produce at local farmers markets. Just because your "but hurt" from your talks with BertieWooster, doesn't make your comments fact.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

My experience is similar to Stuart Hayward's.

Do Japanese farmers use "lots of chemicals?"

Some do and some don't.

I meet many Japanese and Okinawans who grow their own food and who insist on using no pesticides.

And I've driven past apple orchards in Nagano and seen what I had thought was early snow. It wasn't.

There are those who state that their produce is organic when it isn't. And that is not confined to Japan.

But if the farmer is someone you know and trust, you are on to a good thing.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Just because YOU have no idea of where your food comes from or how it's grown, doesn't mean everyone else is the same! We get are fruit & vegetables from relatives

You assume much, too much in fact.

I meet many Japanese and Okinawans who grow their own food and who insist on using no pesticides

I do not argue that many people who grow their own fruits and vegetables do not use pesticides, BUT they are not commercial producers.

Just because your "but hurt" from your talks with BertieWooster, doesn't make your comments fact

Butt-hurt? Tell that to the cows where she gets her produce from.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

YubaruMAY. 25, 2015 - 07:34AM JST

You assume much, too much in fact. < Are you a farmer? No. Do you grow any fruits & vegetables yourself? No. Therefore you have only outside experiences, to your claims.>

I do not argue that many people who grow their own fruits and vegetables do not use pesticides, BUT they are not commercial producers. <What's your logic of only giving validity to giant commercial growers? Are you claiming that spraying poisons and GMO are going to feed the world? Lol. Giant commercial farms cause more harm than good. They harm the soil, cause abnormal concentrations of pest and pollute organic farmers crops and water. Within one hour after the neighboring farmers spray their rice crops, thousands of frogs come onto our property to escape the poisons, fortunately we are at a higher elevation so our water get less measurable poisons, in turn, the frogs thrive and eat more bugs. I could give 100 more examples of how Organic is better than GMO or poison spraying commercial growers but it would make any difference to you anyway.>

Just because your "but hurt" from your talks with BertieWooster, doesn't make your comments fact

Butt-hurt? Tell that to the cows where she gets her produce from. < Are you claiming that giant commercial farms are treating their cows better? No, probably just another comment to deflect & change of subject. You know the point I'm making, you are always at odds with Bertie, on EVERY topic.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yikes.. I am kind of lazy washing my veggies and fruits. I will from now on. I also, love eating the skins.

BTW, my younger brother went on a diet of eating no processed foods. He was 105 kg and is down to 85 kg! It inspired me to eat only salads for lunch and really think of what I put into my mouth. I also am losing weight.. was 95 kg, now 91 kg! My goal is to get to 85 kg.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

With all that healthy food in Europe and America being sold, why are there so many obese people in those areas but not in Japan? Makes me wonder.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

JapanGal,

This is the danger of generalities. Not everyone in Europe and the U.S.A. is obese. I'd be willing to bet that the fatties in those countries are the ones that eat fast food and fried food. Those who think that if they eat more chips (French fries,) they are upping their vegetable intake.

People who take the trouble to select organic produce are less likely to eat burgers and fries.

It's all in the calories!

Stuart, just for the record, I'm a bloke, not a she. Even if people don't know the PG Wodehouse character Bertie Wooster, my avatar is quite obviously male. So I have no idea what "gets her produce from" is about.

Just ignore it.

I do.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

two things:

1- world-wide life expectancy is highest in japan despite no "organic" food. life expectancy is lower in obnoxiously rich countries where there's an organic food trend for the super-wealthy.

2- the price for a "cute" mango in japan is higher than 3000yen. i am sure that if it is "cute" and "organic" the price doubles, at least

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@mitsuo Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs. whys thats because JA has told you so, or maybe youve studied food productions of dozens of different countries to support your claim. with all the food scandals Japan has had in the last 10-15yrs eg madcow, birdflue, pigflue, foot in mouth disease, radiation contamination, mislabeling scandals, food poisonings. when I point this out to Japanese i just get a blank reply.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

For those able to read Japanese or have someone else to read you the explanation, just look at the explanation on the back of any dish soap in Japan and especially the purpose of use section. Yasai kudamono, shokki in that order. Case closed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is number one in the world based on per capita in the use of pesticides. Article from 2012

The survey found that Israel pours on 3.5 tons of pesticides for every square kilometer (0.386 square miles), a value 88 times higher than the lowest user in the OECD, Sweden, which uses just 40 kilograms for the same area.

Japan doesnt use pesticides? Right.....

The next highest user is Japan, with 1.5 tons per sq. km., less than half of the Israeli volume, though Japan leads in pesticide use when taking population into account, with 4.95 tons per thousand citizens. Israel is second in line with 0.98 tons per thousand citizens, whereas the Swedish use just 0.11 tons per thousand citizens.

<http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-tops-charts-for-poisonous-pesticide-use/

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yubaru: I never claimed that Japanese farmers don't use pesticides, in fact, I pointed out they often due. I did point out that there ARE farmers who grow organically and they DO sell produce at Farmers markets. I guess you are proud of the hight levels of poisons used in Japan or are you trying to make some other point with your links? Still waiting to hear why only Industrial commercial farming is the only, answer in your eyes?

Bertie, yes I assumed you were a bloke, and that Yubaru was only trying to take a poke at you with a high school insult.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Mitsuo Matsuyama: Japanese food is the best food in the world considering the taste, healthy and other stuffs

lets share the negative votes. i am totally with you. japanese food is the best in the world, without doubt

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Not sure how it works in Japan.

Back home you need an organic certification, this required regular testing of soil and groundwater samples to ensure no contaminants are present.

Most of the non-organic like pesticides can come from runoff's, etc from surrounding properties.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bertie, yes I assumed you were a bloke, and that Yubaru was only trying to take a poke at you with a high school insult.

Insult? Hardly, he proudly proclaimed on an earlier post to getting vegetables from a dairy farmer "near" Naha. That in and of itself is a problem, overlooking one mess to make a point that he received his fresh organic veggies from a farm that uses medieval techniques to produce milk but seems to justify or overlook that part to proclaim the "organic" freshness and goodness of the veggies.

It's a fact that cows in Okinawan dairy farms are in atrocious conditions, held in neck braces for 24/7 and get machine milked daily and can not even turn around or anything.

Overlooking one thing (conveniently it seems) just because they may have organics, the way they keep their cows is despicable and they deserve no praise.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

japanese food is the best in the world, without doubt another brainwashed into thinking something where there is no proof in support of there claims.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yubaru,

There appears to be some confusion.

Allow me to clear it up.

I have a friend who has a dairy farm near Naha. How he keeps his cows is a) nothing like you describe and b) completely irrelevant to this discussion.

My friend's MOTHER grows organic vegetables in her garden. Not the dairy farmer, his MOTHER.

She is proud of the fact that she doesn't use pesticides. Her vegetables are delicious.

I consider myself to be lucky to get good, fresh, organic produce.

Hope that makes things clearer.

Bertie

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I have a friend who has a dairy farm near Naha. How he keeps his cows is a) nothing like you describe and b) completely irrelevant to this discussion.

The only dairy farms near Naha that are allowed are in Haebaru, or Tomigusuku and the cows there are never let out of their pens, they are held inside, no freedom of movement and are atrocious conditions. Animals the size of cows need physical activity and in Okinawa due to land restrictions it is impossible for that to happen.

It's all about the money!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

TakahiroDomingo: "1- world-wide life expectancy is highest in japan despite no "organic" food."

And those centenarians have buried their kids, and even sometimes their grandkids from diseases that had never run in the family because while said centenarians ate healthy, fresh food and lots of vegetables, their kids ate the stuff with all the pesticides. So, keep in mind that before long Japan will easily join the ranks of 'average lifespans', if not lower than many other countries when you factor in suicides and death from overwork, etc.

"japanese food is the best in the world, without doubt"

The brain-washed often say as much.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Do people actually want organic veg or not? It's easy to buy or even get home deliveries of the stuff if you do.

There's also a whole lot of 'pretty damned near organic' from local sources. Natural farmers seem to have a less strict attitude that they do in the West, meaning they'll grow organic if they can be resort to pesticides if they must. Given the heat, humidity, number of pest and fecundity, I can understand why they might.

On the other hand, I agree the country uses too much as a whole, it's pushed on farmers by JA as part of various programs even if they don't want to. Peer pressure goes against farmers who don't want to. Read Fukuoka's story.

Funnily enough, Masanobu Fukuoka had a massive inspirational influence on Western organic farming/market.

Probably more than any other single individual since Doubleday.

Organic Duck grown rice and some of the best apples in the world are part of the J-Organic world.

Smith, your an for making a statement such as "japanese food is the best in the world, without doubt" would define "best".

And does it mean food or cuisine as the two are different?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Luce-A: "Smith, your an for making a statement such as "japanese food is the best in the world, without doubt" would define "best"."

I don't know if English is not your native tongue or not, but sorry, I have no idea what you are saying here.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I enquired at the local JA about the safety of the chemicals used for helicopter crop spraying of rice in my area, they told me not to worry about it as it was strictly controlled. They said I should worry more about what the farmers do themselves as their spraying is not controlled.

The main reason that organic is not so popular here is that the Japanese consumer pays too much attention to appearance. Green leaves with holes don't sell well. Tomatoes should be round and red even if they are soft, watery and tasteless.

When I came to Japan, I wondered why Japanese always peeled apples before eating them. They worry about sprays.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@gaijintraveller

I agree with you, that's a simple example of where Japanese food (to assist Smith) is "best", e.g. in appearance, presentation, uniformity, in preparation. I'd also be worried about the amount of chemical run off making an uncontrolled soup in areas of intense farming.

If you want better food, don't live the centre of big cities.

All the same, I do wonder where all the bent carrots go and really do not need them individually gift wrapped!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is obvious that Yabaru and co have never been outside a Japanese city and live among there rice field. You are stating heresy has fact. I live opposite a commercial rice growing area. While I am writing this I can here frogs singing. Any ecologist knows that frogs are the caniry of the wetlands. You stated 13kg of pesticide per hectare annually. You believe the propaganda what you read. you are a fool and scaremonger. Herbicides are not pesticides and very little is used. I live in Odata, a big producer of rice for JA. What you are saying is nothing but propaganda that your little brain can not evaluate which is from the green propaganda

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's about time Japan opens its own organic foods supermarket chain like Whole Foods:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Foods_Market

Whole Foods Market, Inc. is an American foods supermarket chain specializing in organic food that first opened on September 20, 1980. With over 400 stores in the US, Canada, and the UK

The Whole Foods Market on Bowery, in Manhattan, is the largest grocery store in New York City.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@lostrune

We've got Green Co-op here in Kyushu. I think they have stores in west Japan as far as Kansai.

More expensive than a regular supermarket, but it's worth the difference. They do deliveries, too. And they treat their staff right.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

smithinjapan: And those centenarians have buried their kids, and even sometimes their grandkids from diseases that had never run in the family because...

because now kids eat mcdownalds, not from pesticides. please smithy, enjoy mcdownalds, i'll continue enjoying my washed brain with japanese food. hope you live long and continue enlightening us with you anti-brain-washing wisdom

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Smith is correct.

The healthy aged people in japan are so, mainly due to a life-long diet of simple fresh food with minimal processed / chemicalized food in their diets.

The change in food production and processing takes years to impact longevity - but it will. Smoking is a good example of this. After 50 years of high tobacco useage, lung cancer is now the biggest cancer killer in Japan. It didn't happen overnight.

But already there is evidence of chemicals in the environment - not just food - impacting the health of children especially. Decades ago it was unheard of for lots of kids to have the array of severe allergies, blood dis-orders, cancers, concentration / mood / sleep problems etc. now evident.

The social environment of course impacts everything, but those who believe modern chemicalized dietary habits have no health consequences are free to hold such beliefs, but should be aware there is a learned body who disagrees with that notion.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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