DucoDelgorge comments

Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Some final thoughts from my side...I think it is incorrect to say that all processed food is junk food. Very few people would call organic raisins, olive oil, tea, coffee, honey, fruit spreads, pure pressed fruit juice, rye bread, mustard, etc. junk food, though I appreciate that each person is entitled to his/her own opinion. The top quality foods we import are amongst the best available in the world, according to competitions (many are prize winners) and to the many people who love and buy them. Regarding price, I have mentioned it before...unfortunately, the higher prices are unavoidable due to the supply chain, which is necessary to reach the general public, and to make the products widely available, as our suppliers and we wish to make them. Indeed, many of our customers, who appreciate the quality of the products we import, and the costs of importing, tell us that they are surprised at how reasonably they are priced. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Regarding organic, indeed it is not a "magic wand", but we believe that it is a step in the right direction. Buying local as much as possible is also important, and there are many sustainable farms out there that are not organic certified. Home gardens, city farms, aquaponics, and many more concepts will continue to evolve according to needs. There is no single magic wand except perhaps our resolve to do what we believe is right. I do not think we can say that everything is "organic" as suggested by one person; and organic is no more a gold mine than any other business; it also comes with its costs, complexities and hurdles, all of which make it very challenging, for the producers as well as the importers, but very rewarding as well.

My inspiration for starting this company came from reading "Beyond the Limits" in 1992. The original book from these authors was "The Limits to Growth" published in 1972. It is clear that humanity is on a collision course with many limits - environmental, economic, and social. I am simply trying to find some way, based on my capabilities, to be part of the long-term solution, and at the same time to bring delicious, high quality products to people who want them, and to make a living. This is not our final goal, but it is a project we are proud of and one that can hopefully lead us to do even better things in the future. "Rome wasn't built in a day". Most importantly, I am immensely thankful to the countless people who have supported us, including especially our many wonderful suppliers, our customers, our partners, and our hard-working and talented team. The journey continues and I am enjoying it immensely, and also curious and hopeful about where it will lead us to.

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Many thanks for the positive feedback. Highly appreciated!

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

We are not about indoctrinating anyone regarding organic food. Everyone is free to do as they wish. Freedom and responsibility are two key principles I believe in. We are simply offering an option for those people who want it. Nothing wrong with that is there? If no one wants what we offer, or if everyone thinks our products are too expensive, we will surely go out of business and I can find something else more worthwhile to spend my life doing. Our hope is to keep growing, to help encourage more Japanese businesses and farmers to go organic, and to help humanity shift to sustainable development. We are but a tiny cog in the wheel. If some people do not see it this way, that is just how it is. I keep looking for ways we can add value to society. I am sure that others are far more capable and effective than we are but that is just a reflection of my/our inadequacies. Still, we try to improve each day. Alas, it takes more time than expected. C'est la vie.

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Pandabelle, thank you for your insights. There is a lot of research put out by those for organic farming and those against; we need to study each with a critical eye. My view is that large scale commercial farming, though it may offer better yields in the short-term, is simply not sustainable. Issues like soil erosion, large amounts of chemicals that get washed into rivers and the seas (many dead zones around the world), the effects of chemicals on humans (farmers and consumers), etc. (there are many other issues besides) all lead me to believe that organic and sustainable farming practices are a necessary part of our agricultural landscape. Also, it has been shown that organic farms are far more resilient to extreme weather conditions (extreme wet and dry) than non organic farms, where the soil is left unprotected for long periods. I can only follow my compass based on what I have read and what I know. I hope to keep learning and contributing as I feel I best can. As long as I continue to see the need for organic food, which seems to be the case, and as long as I feel that I am at least trying to do the right thing, and enough people acknowledge it, I intend to stay the course. Just keep learning and keep improving...that is all I can do.

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Thank you all very much for your comments. Interesting subjects raised. I also try to eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables each day. That is important for sure. And yes, the food we import and sell is processed, but hopefully you will find that the level of processing is much less than most of the mass market products available, and the number of additives is minimal or zero in many cases. Anyway, our only wish is to bring more choice to Japanese consumers at the best possible price. As long as we make some people happy, I feel we have served a purpose.

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Indeed, iHerb will always be cheaper as it is direct import, avoiding import duties, Japanese labelling, supply chain margins, etc., and a lot more besides.

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Posted in: Organic food movement in Japan progressing slowly See in context

Many thanks to Japan Today for the interview, and also for the comments. It is true that imported organic foods can be rather expensive for reasons explained in the interview. Still, we do try to keep prices as low as possible, though I know it does not always seem that way. The weakening of the Yen has not helped in this respect. The only Provamel 1 Litre that gets close to JPY 1,000 is the Almond drink, which is JPY 896. Most of the others are around JPY 650-700. Unfortunately, organic almonds are more expensive. The most suitable non-sugar added Provamel soya drink may be the Plus Calcium (JPY642) - ingredients: Hulled organic soya beans (non-GMO), organic apple concentrate, algae lithothamnium calcareum (where the calcium comes from), sea salt. Regarding labels, a lot of time is spent ensuring that each label is correct, communicating and checking with the suppliers, and also with the Japanese authorities. Our hope is that by importing exceptional organic food to Japan it will stimulate local growers and producers to also invest in the organic market. For now, Japan has the most under-performing organic food market amongst developed countries. We hope that will change. There are some positive signs.

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Posted in: Whistling in the dark or daring to dream? See in context

Thank you for your comments so far. This article is the first of a series. The main message here is that we need more people who dare to dream about a better future. Unfortunately, many people are either unaware of the huge challenges we face (several mentioned by tkoind2), sometimes making this choice intentionally. I am sorry if my examples of possible actions seemed trivial; they are simply examples close to home for me. There are almost unlimited things that need to be done. In a future article, I will attempt (with the help of others) to try and identify the biggest threats/challenges we face, and list some actions which could be taken to address these; a tall order indeed.

In the meantime, political leaders, who we count on the most to help us take the right path, are either corrupt, or incapable of taking the right decisions, this being because they are stuck in a corner (the nature of politics) or just because our problems are becoming larger and more complex, beyond our capability to manage. That is why "Whistling in the Dark" is an appropriate analogy. Bottom line, if we are honest with ourselves, we really don't know what needs to be done, or when we think we know, we increasingly realise that what is required cannot be delivered. By "daring to dream" I simply hope to work with others in a long-term mission to be part of the solution. I say this with humility, fully appreciating my own weaknesses and limitations. I hope that more people reach the necessary level of awareness which will be the prerequisite to taking action to collectively steer our way to a world in which our children can enjoy at least the same level of opportunities that our present world offers.

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