I’m very passionate about food. If I’m not writing, you can usually find me sauteing or fermenting something. When I can’t sleep, I read cookbooks. I’m fascinated by the anthropology of food, agriculture and nutrition.
“Once abhorred for its strong smell, kimchi is now the most popular pickle in the country. Yet the Japanese version — known as kimuchi — is often made without even being fermented, with citric acid added for the characteristic tang. This sacrilege might have caused less stinky-breath shame for the Japanese and the countries they exported it to, but it brought about a different kind of embarrassment when it caused a trade spat with Korea, whose reaction was much like Italy’s would be if the U.S. put spreadable parmigiano in aerosol cans and flouted it to the rest of the world as the best thing since sliced Velveeta.”
“Companies are also converting factories into farms: Toshiba Corp is to start growing vegetables at a former floppy disk plant near Tokyo, while Panasonic is growing radishes and lettuce inside a Singapore factory, and Sharp Corp is trialling an indoor strawberry farm in Dubai.
This tech push into farming is endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is promoting robotics and sensors to boost farm production and exports – essential if Japan concedes to lower agricultural tariffs in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.”
“In its earliest incarnation, Japanese whisky was a bootleg adulterated with spices and perfume. Lacking strict regulations of the Scottish and Irish varieties, it was largely ignored by foreign connoisseurs for much of its 90-year history.
‘I thought going to drink Japanese whisky would be a bit like drinking a Welsh claret,’ Miller said of his first trip to Japan in 1999, when he was editor of Whisky Magazine. ‘I wondered, ‘Will my hosts be offended if I drink gin and tonic?’.”
FROM THE BLOG:
“Americans are so shot through with a belief in individual freedom and choice that they see government intervention in their diets as an affront to their civil liberties— in effect, they defend their right to eat themselves to death. But what if people have become fatter not because of their own personal choices, or even a collective failure of willpower, but rather as a result of specific government policies and politicians’ complicity with an ultra-powerful food lobby? Would they feel somewhat differently if they knew that the obesity epidemic is actually the government’s fault?”
“With Japan’s food self-sufficiency in dire straits—hovering awkwardly at 39% again after two years at a no less dangerous 40%—and irradiated food on supermarket shelves, the situation is not looking good.
…The agricultural ministry’s response was wildly optimistic at best, and disgustingly ineffectual at worst. The only campaign that FAN have launched since the earthquake encouraged consumers to buy produce from Tohoku, in order to support farmers hit by the tsunami. Yet vegetables, fish and meat contaminated with either radioactive iodine or cesium has been discovered in most of the six prefectures in Tohoku, rendering the campaign somewhat irresponsible.”
“Modern dentistry tells us that dental health is all a matter of brushing, restricting sugar intake, and calcium. When you think about it, however, this makes little sense. OralB and Colgate haven’t yet reached all 7 billion souls on the planet, and yet many indigenous—and, yes, impoverished—people have perfectly white, straight teeth. So what gives? Why do people who brush thrice daily and drink milk have worse teeth than those who do little other than floss with twigs, while living off carb-heavy diets and often no dairy?”