Food for thought – future of food

By Hiromi Matsubara

Over the past few years, there has been unprecedented media coverage and resulting community interest generated around the issue of food security in Japan. This has been fueled by scandals such as those arising from scandals like the case of the Chinese dumplings poisoning and “Jikomai” (damaged rice).

As a result, many consumers are shifting their choices to healthier, domestically (or locally) produced food or even to growing their own vegetables in veranda gardens. Despite these individual efforts and increasing eco-consciousness, Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate is only 40% – shamefully the lowest amongst of the developed nations (Australia - over 200%, USA -132%, France 139% etc). But what’s more frightening is the fact (which many people do not know ) that self-sufficiency rate of Tokyo is 1% (From the 2007 MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) survey of all prefectures in Japan. Calculated on a calorie basis.

Read more in Insight by Hiromi Matsubara, CEO of Biopio Inc and co-founder.

© Japan Today

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Yes foreign especially Chinese = bad, Japn = good. I know that already.

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I suppose Singapore has a lower self-sufficiency rate than Japan. And what is the purpose in pointing out that Tokyo has a self-sufficiency rate of 1%? It's hardly surprising when you bear in mind that Tokyo is run by concrete fetishists.

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domestically (or locally) produced food

I believe Snow Brand was a domestically produced food. As were many of the other food scandals over the past few years - imported food being passed off as 'domestic' because the importers knew Japanese customers would clamor for 'domestic' regardless of price or country of origin.

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Yes - foreign=insecure, Japan-made=secure. That's why we eat 75% of the world's tuna and fish our whale from the Antarctic. What? You mean every fish swimming everywhere in the world isn't Japan's by right? BUT - we eat it EVERY DAY!!!

If Japan really wants to address its food security, it's going to have to a) start thinking of cooperation, because the consequence of non-cooperation when there's a scarcity is conflict, and behaving like the fat greedy kid isn't going to win it many friends for the future. b) it should start thinking of the meaning of a sustainable diet. Eating unsustainable amounts of fish in the diet is a good place to start. Second, thinking about making Japanese farming more economically viable is an urgent necessity.

If anyone honestly thinks that everyone in Tokyo growing a few tomatoes or spuds on their balcony is the answer (the article seems to suggest these is even worthy of mention), they're in for a rude shock. That said, land-use policy could make some big changes in the city. Give local authorities some teeth and convert some of that concreted over land to allotments. There seems to be serious car-parking over-capacity where I live. When I moved to the centre of Yokohama, I located all the local car-parks to check the price, and of the 20 in walking distance, every single one had spaces. Think of all that potential green space!!

Roof terraces is another of those meaningliess eco-policies that they trumpeted a few years ago, but no-ones done anything about.

Ah yes, if they encouraged farmers from other countries to migrate to Japan, they might find they could revitalise local economies. Yeah, right - and pigs might fly.

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Oops - roof gardens - you know, so Tokyo would look like one big field from space.

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**meanngliess eco-policies

Yeah this sums it up really.

Japan will never have any problem procuring food though because it has the technology that the rest of the world needs.

The future is about MUTUALITY not rugged independence.

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how many nations are so dependent on fish for protein? As the fish go, so does Japan

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it takes about 2-3 years before even a fruit tree can produce a good yield let alone farms or local crops. Planning is important but if a generation of instant noodles wants instant farms they're heading for some huge disappointment.

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However Japan can grow into more local food quite well. Roof gardens would work out, and even along train lines. There's actually quite a lot of potential if you look around. Given the appreciation for local food this is a good time to get started.

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This seems to be a very insular view of self-sufficiency in Japan, and yet it's in English, and there is no Japanese version of the article available. Isn't it really the Japanese people who should be reading this ?

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Australia is 200%? woohoo!

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Japan has the technology? It's all just copied, but improved on I'll admit!

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Food self-sufficiency for Japan is a ridiculous aim that shouldn't be given any thought. Japan will never be food self-sufficient and it shouldn't even try. If quality food is what is driving this then it should import from quality producers. Also more thought should be given to using GMO's to enhance food production in the world. This would increase the world's ability to produce food.

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GMO`s are evil and under independent analysis ahve been shown to have no significant benefits except to the GM companies and also as can be seen in the US, many insects usefull to farmers have been killed.

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i believe that if land is left vacant in certain "ku-s" the owners of the land are taxed in some additional and rather un-appealing way (as if all taxes aren't already unappealing!)... and that there is some tax benefit/break etc from paving over the land and in turning it into a car park... even if only temporarily... go figure ! & that is why there are not many "vacant lots" left as just sand or grass... perhaps some legal eagle amongst us can confirm or refute, so that we will all know why, as per Joni Mitchell sang, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"!!

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Maybe some have forgotten the fact that only 10% of land in Japan is arable and a lot of that lies in the Kanto plains?

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Shikoku area is fairly depopulated and much of Japan's countryside is devoid of people, so an interest in local food might help that. I know from reading JT/metropolis that there has been movement from disaffected workers to give farming a go. Free land rent in some townships apparently.

I think the more local food the better, and really found the food in Japan excellent.

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There is so much free farm land with nothing growing on it. Let's rocking on that.

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As far as I have read, the food sufficiency index is a scam. The premise is that it's what the average person needs to survive and it's based on calories required per capita. It doesn't take into account the enormous amount of food that's thrown away. Japan is far more self sufficient than the ministry would like us to think.

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GMO`s are evil and under independent analysis ahve been shown to have no significant benefits except to the GM companies...

Actually not true. Hungry Africans are the main beneficiary. The fact is that GMO's are essential if we are to feed the planet in the years ahead.

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The fact is that GMO's are essential if we are to feed the planet in the years ahead.

I'd suggest you watch 'The world according to Monsanto' and then reconsider.

Free seeds means anyone can be a farmer, they are paid for their labours and don't have to patent food to exist. With GMO, every crop is a license fee and the benefits are not there. Farmers are not allowed to save seeds and have to pay again the following year, at unnecessary cost. Most new farmers are organic farmers not GMO. Interestingly organic farming is increasing every year because it's more profitable.

when Peak Oil/Everything takes down the diesel, we'll be back at normal food production. The key is reducing population over the long term. It's not going well.

Try looking for Plan B 4.0 Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown. This is availabe online for free and would educate you on what the state of farming really is in the world, GMO or not.

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Like drug companies, you can't expect companies that spend millions of dollars on GMO research to give it away for free. Be sensible. However, less like drug companies, many GMO firms give away seeds to the third world.

Organic farming is a waste of resources and doesn't produce a better product.

Don't even think about reducing the population, it's a red herring and an individual choice. Generally poor families have more children to work on the farm.

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