Traditional Japanese food is known as “washoku” in the land of the rising sun. “Wa” translates into peace or harmony and “shoku” means meal. In my 10 plus years of living in Japan I would say that Japanese food in all its forms from modest and nutritious home cooked comfort foods like “tonjiru” (miso soup with pork and root vegetables) to exquisite visual displays of delicious seasonal ingredients like “kaiseki” (equivalent to 3 star rated Michelin cuisines) is about engaging the senses.
It is easy and tempting for most people unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine to reduce it to stereotypical images of sushi and green tea. Some expats who have lived in Japan prefer to show their knowledge of the food culture by fixating on dishes that they don’t enjoy pointing out foods that may be considered strange or unappetizing. “Natto” which is fermented beans with a pungent smell and an equally unappealing taste for most who work up the courage to try is one such example.
“We, the people, do have the power to stop [the] tragic waste of resources, if we regard it as socially unacceptable to waste food.”— Tristram Stuart
Presently, the European commission, other global agencies and advocacy groups are promoting sustainable food policies. According to the EU standing commitee on Agriculture Research (SCAR), many of today’s food production systems compromise the capacity of the earth to produce food in the future, because food production is exceeding environmental limits. In view of this seemingly great disaster waiting to happen to our food production, I ask what about some responsible eating? Not the calorie counting responsible eating but the zero waste, responsible eating.
Sustainable food production is a worthy cause, but are we producing so much food because we need it or are we producing so much, because we do not use what we produce efficiently. Eating is no longer about satisfying our hunger, especially for many who live in the developed world, where the most food is produced. Our ostentatious lifestyle and conspicuous consumption is all evident in how we eat. Families and individuals buy more food than they need and end up not eating the food or giving the excess to someone else to eat.
I have seen people especially young people, in trains and restaurants, who leave their lunch barely touched. What about buying what you can eat or truly sharing a meal? It is part of being socially responsible. If we eat in a more responsible way, then maybe we will not need to bother the earth so much to yield more food.
The FoodBridge vzw as part of its ‘Eating across cultures’ program, is in Week van de Smaak
In line with our aim of using food to highlight global food cultures, we are participating in this year’s ‘Week van de Smaak’ in Brussels. Since the theme for 2014 is sustainable food, we are showcasing cassava(also known as tapioca, manioc and yuca) as the ultimate sustainable crop across the globe. Many in the world especially in developing countries rely on cassava for most of their calories and it’s by products are also used as vegetable, animal feed, medication, cosmetics, drink, fuel and for industries in the developed world, it is an important component of many of their products . The importance of cassava in the diet and life of people in developing countries is aptly captured by the Nigerian historian Chima Korieh (2007) when he stated that ‘Yam is king but cassava is the mother of all crops’. This crop has the ability to grow in poor soil all year round and is easier to preserve for long periods than other plants. We are also highlighting the importance of Yam in different cultures of the world. Thus we will be presenting yam dishes too.
The Helping Hand Project