Many people might dismiss the organic food trend as a trivial obsession of Metropolitan bohemians. However such views fail to recognize that for most of human history there has been no term for organic food because all food was chemical free by default. Rather than another fleeting trend, organic food has been the nourishment of our evolution, feeding past civilizations and societies that laid the foundations of our modern world.
Although we have made great progress in medicine, saving billions of lives from needless deaths and diseases, we have also compromised human health with convenience foods that have caused soaring levels of obesity and disease that were previously unheard of. Whilst Japan enjoys one of the highest life expectancies in the world, there is still an increase in demand for organic food.
According to Japan’s Agricultural Association, the awareness of the importance of organic farming in Japan, and the health and environmental benefits that go with it coincided with a period of rapid economic growth in the 1970s. During this time, an overzealous use of industrial chemicals in farming resulted in a deadly outbreak of Minamata disease. Unfortunately, the mantra of economic growth at all costs had traumatic consequences. People who doubt the claims of the benefits of organic farming and sustainable practices should consult experts such as Dr. Giryo Yanase, whose studies prove a causal link between contaminated food and environments and diseases. It is fortunate that since the foundation of JAA in 1971 there has been a lot of progress, albeit with some setbacks as well.
Despite the Japanese government’s unwillingness to provide direct financial support to JAA, they have assumed the responsibility of ensuring that organic farmers meet the standards set by JAS. JAS products now feature abundantly on supermarket shelves.
Since a very small percentage of Japan’s land is suitable for crop and arable farming (as little as 20% according to some estimates), it is crucial to protect the scarce and precious farms with sustainable practices. Such practices include a reduction in the use of antibiotics, which leads to resistant strains of bacteria, crop rotation and a diversity of crops to restore biodiversity. It is important that potential businesses are aware of the concerns shared by an increasing number of people about the sustainability of farming. Awareness of the growing support for organic farming will not only keep businesses up to date with the latest research on public health and how to provide means for environmentally friendly farming, but it will also give them a chance to make a better contribution to lives in the rural community and consumers alike.