Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Organic foods in the news


Organic food pioneers Jack Bayles, Martin Hope and Tomoko Katagiri voice their opinions in The Japan Times today about healthy foods and environmental issues. I remember back in the early 1990s when I first discovered a small shop called Gaia, near where I lived at that time. They introduced me to a new world of Japanese foods. Happy to see that they are thriving today. Bigger supermarkets are also introducing organic foods all over the country, but sometimes the good stuff can be a little hard to find (at least for journalists):

Anyone who has gone to a supermarket in search of the JAS logo can attest to the scarcity of organic products available — usually just spaghetti, natto (fermented soybeans), soy milk and, if you're lucky, perhaps a few others.

A handful of grocery stores (Life, for example, in the Tokyo metropolitan and Kansai areas) boast a small selection of locally grown organic veggies (spinach, tomatoes, onions and potatoes), which are usually put out on a small stand, away from their shiny and beautiful nonorganic counterparts and sold for a slightly higher price. Consumers who choose to eat organic need to accept that the fruits and vegetables will appear a little less-than-perfect.

The Japan Times: Avoid the chemically impaired

Great list of resources: Japan's cafe culture goes vegan

* Happy Cow's Vegetarian Guide to Restaurants and Health Food stores
* The Natural Healing Center's list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and food stores
* Tengu Natural Foods' home delivery

Stores carrying organic food:

* Alishan Cafe & Shop (Tengu Foods, other items and fresh produce):
* Gaia: Ochanomizu, Yoyogiuehara (Tokyo)
* Gruppe: Ogikubo, Kichijyoji, Mitaka (Tokyo)
* Natural House: Aoyama, Yurakucho (Tokyo), Yokohama in Kanagawa, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto (about 30 shops)
* Carrot (Osaka)
* Shun-rakuzen, Nagoya and Inchinomiya, Aichi Prefecture
* Organic House, Yumehiroba, Fukuoka

(Disclaimer: I currently work part-time for Alishan Organic Center)

5 comments:

Pandabonium said...

We keep looking for nearby sources for organic foods.

The other day I took a bag full of our homegrown organic (at least since I've lived here) mikan over to our neighbor's house and they gave me a bag of their organically grown (I watch them work their field so I know) sweet potatoes. Sharing good food = good neighbors.

Tengu foods is an excellent business. (Disclaimer: I'm a happy Tengu Foods customer.) :^)

Martin J Frid said...

Happy to hear that. Mikan are great this season. No need to eat imported fruit (right now, anyway) in a country with so much good stuff.

vegetablej said...

I got good organic kaki last week from my local Anew store. There are many branches in most prefectures.

http://www.anew.co.jp/stores/

I shop at Tengu for things like the soy cheese and flour, but get other things like fresh produce from Anew and the Farmers' Market.

I wish you would also add Warabe Mura to the list. They have weekly delivery of a vegetable box if anyone is looking for that. They don't have online shopping but do mail or phone orders (simple English is okay).

http://www.warabe.co.jp/english2.html

Also I'd like to suggest that Tengu put ingredients and brand names of things on their website, especially if a product contains gluten or dairy. Some of us with allergies need that kind of information before we can make a purchasing decision.(I know some products have websites and I have been hunting through them for the information, but not always with good results.It would save a lot of time and energy if they would put up this info. I think they may have had it in the catalogue before?) Maybe you could pass the suggestion along? :)

And thanks for the list! It's very useful!

Martin J Frid said...

Warabe Mura is a great shop! I do recommend it and I am planning to do a post about them. Martin Hope is a good friend of Alishan and Tengu. Frankly Warabe Mura are more hardcore and sincere... Glad you found them!

I will definitely pass on your suggestion about listing ingredients.

Martin J Frid said...

Vegetablej,
I added Warabe Mura to my list of "Links I like". Thanks for the suggestion. Glad you had good experiences with them.

The allergy information question got some Tengu staff scratching their heads... The information regarding ingredients such as gluten, eggs, dairy is indeed printed in the catalogue. You can download it from the Tengu shop website as a pdf file. Better yet, ask us to send it to you - just call the office.