Soybean Field Trust Movement (Daizu Trust) And Efforts To Make Rural Japan Cool Again
I went to a fun meeting today with the Soybean Field Trust Movement people, including farmers and consumers, who are trying to encourage interest in locally grown soy. One speaker noted that in Ibaraki Prefecture (considered No. 2 after Hokkaido for soy production) a recent inventory revealed over 100 different varieties. Much soy in Japan is used for tofu, miso and soy sauce. Did you know that soy is used as edamame, often as a snack?
The Soybean Field Trust Movement started some 13 years ago, when it became clear that imported soy from the US was increasingly genetically modified, and controlled by large multinational corporations like Monsanto. On top of that, the soy that Japan imported from Latin America was found to lead to the destruction of the Amazon forests.
Japan still imports a lot of soy, but companies like Honda Motor Co. (!) have set up special silos in North America that only accepts non-GMO soy:
In Ohio, non-GMO soybean acreage increased 6%, the largest increase in any state. "We saw more growers switching to non-GMO production for 2009 planting,” says Joe Hanusik, manager at Harmony Agricultural Products In Ohio (HAPI Ohio), which produces non-GMO soybeans for food use. HAPI Ohio is owned by the Honda Motor Company, based in Japan. Honda ships containers to the US filled with automobile parts, and HAPI Ohio ships them back to Japan filled with non-GMO soybeans. The infield of a Honda test track in Marysville, Ohio, is even planted with non-GMO soybeans. Hanusik said he contracted with a record number of farmers to plant non-GMO soybeans. "This year we are producing roughly 45,000 acres of non GMO soybeans. Last year we were right around 25,000.” Steve Waddell, a farmer near Columbus, Ohio, switched to non-GMO production because of the higher premiums. Waddell says he will earn a $2.00 premium for non-GMO soybeans this year.
Be that as it may, soy bean farmers around Japan feel a keen sense of responsibility to carry on traditional farming methods and food culture.
Soybean Field Trust Movement is active around Japan, and do try to find them, and join their activities. If their blogs are anything to go by, they are truly doing their very best to make the rural Japan experience something worth writing home about:
Ibaraki Prefecture (one of several)
Saitama Prefecture (Supported by local politician)
Hokkaido (NPO, one of many)
You can order Soybean Field Trust products via the PAL Network (Ibaraki). I also recommend soybeans and other products from Warabemura (English).
Mamejin has a pretty complete list of everyone who is part of this amazing movement.
Marukawa Miso was at the meeting today, they are a riot. Hey: "Money is more important than life itself!" LOL.
Oh, if that was just too negative, but you get the drift. Here is another take on rural life, Natsuko's sake. It started as a popular manga, and became a wonderful TV series. Natsuko is a young lady who makes every effort to revive rural sake making by farming rice organically, and winning over all her critics. Did you know there are people with a fetish thing for yellow rubber boots and actress Wakui Emi?
Part 1 here (from 1994).
夏子の酒 和久井映見 炊事用手袋