Sunday, August 31, 2014

Eco Links For August, 2014

Last days of summer, with a hint of autumn in the air already? I went to the Farmers Market at United Nations University in Tokyo, and here are some photos of that happy event. Very nicely managed with white tents and wooden crates for the produce and preserves. I hear it is rather expensive to have a stall here (12,000 yen per day compared to, for example, Nippori Market at 5,000 yen per day) but many of the vendors come back weekend after weekend, so they must be doing well!

Asahi reports that this summer has been tough on veggie farming and that prices are going through the roof:

Vegetable prices are soaring due to the summer's heavy rains and a lack of sunshine across the nation, making for poorer growing and harvesting conditions than in usual years. These unusual weather phenomena are causing shortages of vegetables and showing up in higher prices in supermarkets across the nation. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the retail prices of cucumbers and lettuce are double those of conventional years, and will continue to remain high for the next few weeks.

Many supermarkets now do special "time sale" events where for just an hour or so, they lower the prices, and then push them back up again.

From North America, Food Safety News reveals how a critic of the organic movement operates:

When The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group, officially launched in April 2004, one of its primary issue areas was what it referred to as “The Corporate Attack on Organic Agriculture.” At the time, Cornucopia’s focus was on the father-and-son team of Dennis and Alex Avery at the ultra-conservative Hudson Institute’s campaign to discredit organics. Now, in 2011, after seven years of successfully exposing the genesis of Hudson’s ire, and greatly diminishing its effectiveness, a new generation of “Trojan horse” naysayers has emerged.

The latest attacks come from Mischa Popoff, a Canadian who purports to be an advocate for organics and is publicizing his self-published book entitled, "Is It Organic?" The author misses few opportunities to impugn the integrity of the organic label, or USDA oversight, while simultaneously defending biotechnology and the industrial agriculture system that organics seeks to replace.
“Addressing the potential damage from attacks by the Hudson Institute, and other right-wing think tanks such as the Hoover Institution, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was relatively easy,” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. “Every rebuttal that we published, or preemptive media advisory we issued, was put into context by including the corporate agribusiness funding base for the work of these entities.”

The Cornucopia Institute website has more.

August also saw a flurry of reports about the tough task to convince land owners in Japan to provide space for radioactive waste from the crippled Fukushima Nuclear Plant. I think it is sad but logical that the towns in the immediate vicinity get to store it; sad because it will further cause them trouble, but logical since it doesn't make sense to ship the waste all over the country. Also, these locations may be easier to guard and to make sure they are kept safe. Good luck with that, for 30 years. And then there is the real issue of where to put the long-term storage. Not in my backyard, please...

Fukushima formally accepts waste storage plan

August 30, 2014

The governor of Japan's Fukushima Prefecture has officially accepted a government proposal to build intermediate radioactive waste facilities in 2 of its towns.
The central government plans to build the facilities on 16-square-kilometer lots in the towns of Futaba and Okuma, near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

On Saturday, Governor Yuhei Sato met in the city of Fukushima with the mayors of Futaba and Okuma as well as 6 other towns and villages near the plant.
After the meeting, the governor officially announced the decision to accept the facilities.
The governor said the prefecture scrutinized government plans and judged that the facilities are essential in removing nuclear substances and restoring the environment. He added that it was a difficult decision.

The mayors of Futaba and Okuma said they take the prefecture's decision seriously, suggesting that they will accept it and will allow the government to start negotiating land acquisitions with the owners.
They also confirmed that they will continue to urge the government to enact legislation that would stipulate that the stored waste will be transferred from the prefecture within 30 years. They will also call on the government to sign a pact that guarantees the safety of the facilities, and to draw up a blueprint for the community's future.

The central government plans to start having the soil transported in January.

Fukushima towns OK plan to construct storage facilities for nuke waste

August 27, 2014

Two Fukushima Prefecture municipalities have decided to accept the central government's rich package of subsidies to allow the construction of intermediate facilities to store radioactive debris from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.
“We succeeded in greatly deepening (local officials’) understanding (of our storage facility plan),” Nobuteru Ishihara, environment minister, told reporters on Aug. 26 after meeting with members of the town assemblies of Futaba and Okuma.
Ishihara said the central government will pay subsidies totaling 301 billion yen ($2.89 billion) to support local residents’ lives and revitalize local communities. Of that, 85 billion yen will go directly to the town governments of Futaba and Okuma, which host the stricken Fukushima plant. The remaining 216 billion yen in subsidies will be distributed through other programs.

Candidate town residents rally against radioactive waste disposal site plan

August 18, 2014

KAMI, Miyagi -- Residents of a candidate site for final disposal of radioactive waste emanating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster organized a rally here against a planned government survey for deciding where to build the controversial facility.

Some 1,000 people took part in the protest on July 17, which was organized by residents of the Miyagi Prefecture town of Kami -- one of the three candidate sites for construction of a final disposal facility.

Kazuhisa Mikata, mayor of the Tochigi Prefecture town of Shioya -- another candidate site for the final disposal facility -- participated in the rally to confirm the collaboration between the two towns in continuing to refuse the conducting of the surveys by the Environment Ministry.

Kami Mayor Hirobumi Inomata said, "Radioactive waste should be managed on the premises of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant) in an integrated manner." Inomata emphasized the need to revise a special measures law governing disposal of such waste in each prefecture.

For more sad news, go to Ten Thousand Things and read and weep for Henoko in Okinawa. Or better yet, join the protest movement:

The 8.23 rally was organized by the All-Okinawa Conference which formed at Naha, the prefecture's capital, in July. Representatives included numerous elected political officials, including mayors from all of Okinawa's municipalities and representatives from environmental, women's, peace, and human rights NGOs. Their conference statement described their collective vision for Okinawa:
We reject any future for Okinawa that would continue to be dominated by the bases. It is our duty to pass on to our children an Okinawan future full of hope and we have every right to build freely and with our own hands a truly Okinawan caring society. We call upon all the people of Okinawa to unite again on an “all Okinawa” basis to demand implementation of the 2013 Okinawan Kempakusho and cessation of the works being imposed by force upon Henoko.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tesla Electric Car In Tokyo From September 4

And now for something completely different... I did my democratic duty over at the Swedish Embassy in Roppongi, and voted in the Swedish elections.

Then walked back towards Shibuya since the weather was ok, just a light drizzle, but after the heat we had (global warming/climate change/weird weather, anyone?) it is so nice to be able to spend some quality time outdoors again.

Then in Aoyama, I noticed a camera crew, and a small showroom, and a car.

The all-electric Tesla is in Tokyo, and events will start to take off from September 4. I think I may have been one of very few in Japan who got to sit in a Tesla, today!

Took some photos too. Yu Yamasaki, product specialist at Tesla, was more than helpful.

I don't own a car and don't intend to, and yet, if you really need mobility of this kind, the Tesla could very well be a good option. Rather this than some awful SUV. I don't think there is much of a future in private car ownership, but hey, I've been saying that for a long time.

I also think we must invest now and aim for better public transportation for all, and more car sharing, and less reliance on gasoline/diesel.

And, mark my words, I don't think any car, even an all-electric one, should be called Eco. These are still huge chunks of steel and heavy metals and plastics and acids (for the batteries) and not good for the environment as such.

Yes, great that they don't have an internal combustion engine and no gasoline tank, but for the planet, this is not the solution.

The Tesla is cool though because it is slightly larger than the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. Of course there are also other Japanese hybrid models, like the Lexus, but the real contender in this market is Nissan's Leaf. I see more and more charging stations too around Japan, so that should not be a problem. I'm 180 cm tall and the Tesla S was not uncomfortable.

The Tesla that they have finally come up with could become a hit in Japan, because it has right hand steering, or 右ハンド。 You read that right. What Detroit would never do for Japan for the past 70 years, Tesla has understood is a major factor.

Batteries by Panasonic.

It could also work well in the UK, as this video shows:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kasumigaura Lake, NHK World, And The Usual Rant From Kurashi

Wonderful, wonderful program from NHK World about a lake just 60 km north of Tokyo, probably not very well known to Tokyoites, but it has its charms. Lake Kasumigaura is actually an ancient lagoon but the current lake was created some 50 years ago when a dam helped set the borders of what was to be water, and what was to be land. However, that also changed the conditions of the area, a lot.

NHK World shows wonderful, wonderful lotus plantations, and fishing experiences in the old style Hobiki-sen boats... Just an hour or two from the nation's capital.

Wonderful, wonderful...

NHK World: Journeys in Japan

However, (Kurashi taking a deep breath...) NHK World fails to take any notice the huge environmental issues that this lake, Japan's second largest after Lake Biwa, continues to face.

Why gloss over the realities? Why NHK World producers, and foreigners participating in this game, cannot raise even the most simple questions about what ordinary people here in Japan on the ground are working hard to protect, and deal with, such as pollution or loss of biological diversity or wetland destruction issues that concern migratory birds, or - did I mention pollution.

Why indeed gloss over the issues, NHK World?

Start showing Japan not as some kind of gilded cage, but a place with real humans and real issues, and stories about the knowledge and experience to make a difference.

NHK recommends a link for further information about Hobiki-sen boats, so please visit the official prefecture website (NHK is also a sort of official government body): (E)

Kurashi says, that "official" site doesn't even begin to discuss the many issues concerning this lake and its people and history - or its future.

So who does?

Image: Local company, Oriental Motor doing its share of Corporate Social Responsibility, workers bringing their kids to pick up garbage on the shore of the lake.

More efforts to clean up the garbage around the lake, cue Eco Dane! ("It's Eco!")

No matter what, we need media to help get people out and about, and make thinking about our precious environment a priority. Get NHK World to focus on issues that Japanese people care about. Including, cleaning up, and stopping pollution. That's a lesson for Asia and the world.

Campaign supported by corporations and local people and everyone trying to combat global warming, for example by using green curtains (plants) in the wonderful, wonderful prefecture of Ibaraki.

Hoping that makes participants care more about what they consume and how they dispose of the garbage.

Ideally, we would have no plastic garbage thrown away.

Until that can be the reality, do encourage your work place or employer or family to take part. That's a lot of bags of garbage, but someone has to go out there and pick it up and make an event and encourage others.

Big event on September 30, 2014 more here (J).

Image: Ibaraki Green Curtain Contest (I like that they use ingen beans as a symbol)

Not like NHK World couldn't do a little research, and find out that so much is going on.

Japan for Sustainability (JFS) has a number of articles in English about the environmental problems in the area: Working with Local Citizens, Companies and the Government to Protect Watershed

Hiroshi Iijima, Administrative Director of the Nonprofit Organization Asaza Fund and Executive Director of the Citizens Association for Kasumigaura and Kitaura:

The basin area of Kasumigaura straddles Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba Prefectures, and at about 2,200 km2, makes up Japan's second-largest lake after Biwako in Shiga Prefecture. The Asaza Project aims to protect biodiversity across this massive area. For such a project that covers such a broad area, it is necessary to create a system that does not allow businesses to be completely autonomous, as this could lead to unrestricted expansion. Because the traditional idea of the nature conservation focuses on the small scale, it cannot be applied to the whole basin area.

Foster Care of Asaza

The local government has implemented a variety of measures to prevent the deterioration of water quality and the environment, which began in the 1970s; however, we have not seen any improvement in water quality. Since around 1990, people have been saying that the current system is limited and that the government needs to implement more comprehensive measures, but no one is certain of what needs to be done. I too was not certain, but I decided to walk along the lake. Kasumigaura is 250 km around, giving it the longest lakeside in Japan, and I have walked around it once in each of the four seasons.

While I was walking, I saw waterweed, called "floating heart (asaza in Japanese)." This encouraged me to change my thinking. Floating heart helps with the conservation of reeds. At that time, large amounts of reed were cut by the waves and large areas of reed were lost; however, large numbers of floating hearts weakened the strength of the waves. Thus, the Asaza Project was started. I realized that if we can use natural processes, we might be able to gradually restore this huge lake, instead of initiating large-scale bank protection projects. It was 1995.

Asaza pioneered the cooperation with local schools to monitor the status of the lake.

And there is so much more to report:

The Asaza Project has a great English website, do explore. And they need your help to realize these goals.

The Asaza Project is a long-term 100-year plan with the set goal of the return of specific species of wildlife every decade (front page). Each wildlife species represents a particular environmental element to be revived in the lake and basin with the measures needed for that purpose. The goals are as follows: great reed warblers in 10 years, cuckoos and whooper swans in 20 years, bean geese in 30 years, white storks in 40 years, cranes in 50 years, and Japanese crested ibises in 100 years. It is a plan to reverse the extinction of ibises that has taken place in Japan’s last 100 years of modernization. We want to represent, in the form of an image of countryside graced by flying ibises, what people tried to protect and to regain through their struggles against the Ashio Mine Pollution tragedy a century years ago and subsequent pollution problems such as Minamata disease.

The Kasumigaura Boat Trips are arranged by a very serious group of people. They care about the lake's future. They will educate people who apply to go on the sail boats about its environmental challenges - and they are enormous. Going on the famous Hobiki-sen is not just a regular tourist trip. Next date is November 9, 2014. Website here (J).

Top image: Hobiki-sen boats

Independent Web Journal (IWJ) is the site of people who are concerned about the radiation problem after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in March, 2011. Too hot for NHK World to handle? Well, let's hope the levels in Kasumigaura Lake are not that high, and life can go on as usual.

In the Kasumigaura Lake area, there is a group that helps citizens understand radiation issues and provides monitoring. Link to more information and videos about that issue here (J). is a great website, with a calender of events. Here is September, 2014 (J).

The Forest NGO Mori no Kai has many events to highlight the forests and ecosystems of Ibaraki prefecture.

Remember how Kurashi also reported how local Ibaraki organic farmers are trying to revitalize the region, using humus from local forests? That was back in 2009 and 2010, when I was helping Japan Organic Agriculture Association with a project to highlight the links between forests regions upstream from the river basin regions and all the way down to the ocean:

Broad leaf trees contribute to making healthy humus and organic matter, with more than ten times as much Fulvic acid compared to conifers. In organic rice fields there are more phytoplankton and zooplankton. Also, the breeding levels of phototropic bacteria are higher, and Nitrogen (N2) is fixed.

Enjoy composting! Mix your kitchen garbage (vegetables and organic matter) with fallen leaves as a way to restore CO2 levels in the soil. We call it wakuwaku composting using waku boxes. It is fun for everyone! The Japanese word, wakuwaku, means to enjoy something and do it with enthusiasm. Elementary schools and junior high schools can let the children experience composting. This is an important educational experience to teach young students about organic farming, forestry and fishery projects, and promote a better understanding with a link to the daily food they eat.
Uozumi-san noted that a healthy mountain forest with a large biological diversity, and lots of fallen leaves that can be used for composting: “The forest is the mother of the earth.” Fields should have a large variety of crops. In Japan, projects are underway to help develop shellfish farming and oyster cultivation by planting broad leaves tree saplings in the forest regions upstream from the river basin region. This is based on the understanding that all things are connected: “The forest is the lover of the ocean.”
Conifer forests that are not thinned properly do not allow much sunlight to reach the ground. Thus, the undergrowth is not well developed, and the absorption of CO2 is bad. Use good quality compost to enrich the soil. Create warm beds for vegetables, using heat created by the fermentation and composting of leaves, straw, rice bran and other organic material.
Uozumi-san concluded: “Only good things will come from the clean water that flows in the stream, when only good things are put into the water…”


Organic Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Project Based On Humus

Do join!

More videos from Toyota, with a grain of salty ocean water ;) supporting the Kasumigaura Lake and others through a festival in August and again in October in 2014, with a cool and very well produced website here.

Follow the money, indeed!

Poster: (PDF)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Protest Meetings Against Linear Shinkansen

The good people trying to stop the Maglev train line between Shinagawa and Nagoya are holding several large meetings this fall, starting on August 30 at Wako University in Tsurukawa (Odakyu Line).

The theme is to learn from the network that protested against environmental destruction near Mt. Takao in Tokyo, and the experiences from the lawsuit against the Ken-O Highway construction.

On September 13 a symposium will be held in Yamanashi, and on October 13 in Tokyo (with long-term Japan resident Arthur Binard, activist and poet from the US).

The Linear Citizens NET is a group with branches in all the affected prefectures (J).They are concerned about the environmental destruction, the threat to water resources, and other pollution concerns (such as the huge amounts of trucks that will be needed to remove gravel during the tunnel construction). Also, there is much doubt that there will be any financial gains at all for the people affected. Construction is expected to continue well into 2045 (or so) if the line is to be extended to Osaka, as planned. Nara and Kyoto are competing about which of the two cities should get a station.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Permaculture, A Story

I have been hearing good things about permaculture but I'm less inclined to agree that animal husbandry can be integrated in any such endeavor...

Ken sayz…

Personally for me permaculture is about just enough and finding contentment, not exerting energy to make money. I like that it’s focused on rebuilding the top soil and growing perennials and growing food and transforming yards into useful spaces, making everything have multiple functions.

To me permaculture is not just about making it in the current economy, it’s about planning for a future economy after unsustainable practices fail and leave us with nothing but the more sustainable ones, which is something that I think young adults today will see as they grow old.

Which made me come up this story, or parable, or fable, of our times:

Once upon a time... there was a city boy in his early thirties who moved to the hills to farm with his young wife. They started small and that all went well for a while. They wanted to farm in a sustainable way that was good for their own health and for Planet Earth. They talked long and late at night about organic farming and permaculture. They made love, a lot. Money, well, that was not talked about so much, at least not in the beginning. The wife started to take pottery lessons with a teacher nearby, and they raising honeybees and sold the honey in the wife’s pretty pots. After a few years, they had a couple of kids and the farm grew, and they bought a larger car to ship their vegetables and honey to the markets in a city nearby, and that all went well for a while.

The city boy didn’t like the high cost of gasoline, so they changed to a diesel car, and he tried to use used cooking oil instead. That all went well for a while, but it was a messy process, and the city boy started neglecting his fields in order to fine tune the engine and the mechanical system he built for purifying the fuel. The wife was busy with the toddlers and had less time to make pottery and care for the bees. Kids went to a local pre-school, and the wife wanted to get more serious about the veggies.

They decided to get a couple of goats to see if that could help clear the fields from weeds. That all went well for a while but the male goat and the female goat had one kid after the other, and there wasn’t enough room. Also, when the kids became adult goats, the inevitable happened – the male goats started having a go at the females, even though they were all related. That created offspring that were inbred, which had to be put down because they were unhealthy and didn’t grow up right. The city boy and his wife – and their children who were now about to enter first grade school - liked the goats, but this was getting complicated. Then the old goats died of natural causes, and needed to be replaced. But from where would they get new, healthy goats?

They decided to raise chicken instead, and ignore the weeds that grew in the fields. They got a couple of hens and a rooster, and the hens got eggs one after the other. That all went well for a while, and they could sell the eggs in the markets in the city nearby, but when they were away, some of the eggs hatched and suddenly they had lots of little yellow chicks, one after the other. And when they grew up, the rooster started having a go at the females, even though they were all related, just like the goats. And again, that created offspring that were inbred, which had to be put down because they were unhealthy and didn’t grow up right. The city boy and his wife – and their children – liked the chicken and the hens and the rooster, but this was getting complicated. All this slaughter was really getting too much. Then the rooster died of natural causes, and needed to be replaced. But from where would they get a new, healthy rooster?

The moral of this story: In any animal population, you need a certain population size in order to have a healthy gene pool. This in essence means you need a herd to raise even a few animals. If you can’t have a herd on your own farm, you need neighbors with animals of the same kind, but again, unless you are all working towards the same goal, inbreeding is always a risk. For larger animals like cattle or pigs the problem is even more difficult, as the diseases that result from the inbreeding are that much more serious, and there are all kinds of rules and laws that you need to follow.

And as each female animal will have a 50-50 chance of having male and female offspring, you will need to slaughter a lot of male calves and piglets or chicken. If you raise cattle, you can of course castrate one or two of the young bulls and use them as ox in your fields, instead of relying on a tractor and fossil fuels, but that still doesn’t take care of your male-female ratio problem. As for poultry, you only need one rooster for a cage full of hens, or the males will fight bloody battles over who gets to sit on the highest stick!


I don’t believe animal husbandry can contribute much to permaculture. There are some organic farms that raise chicken, small-scale, which can produce manure and egg shells that are great for the soil in the vegetable fields. Goats can be helpful to some degree, but you would have to be prepared to slaughter a lot of kids unless you keep your adult animals separated. And how would you make sure that you have a large enough gene pool to avoid inbreeding? Having just one goat is not permaculture. 

I don’t believe purchasing animals should be regarded as part of permaculture, because it means you may end up depending on outside breeders with other, less sustainable goals for their animal husbandry than yours, such as the use of veterinary drugs and commercial feed.

Animal feed is a huge issue. Do you have enough feed on your own farm, or access to sustainably grown feed from neighbors? Or are you going to use commercial grade feed, which usually contains soybeans and other grains like maize? Will you need to transport the feed by car or truck, using gasoline or diesel, or used cooking oil from oil seed like canola, that is also usually imported? Is your feed imported from other countries? That is not compatible with permaculture either. Is it genetically modified? What kind of pesticides and herbicides were used?

These are hard choices to make, and as for the story above, I worry that the city boy and his wife would quickly forget about their initial inspiration, to farm in a way that makes a long-term contribution to healthy life and to the future for our precious Planet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

No Red Meat Diet - The Harvard Version

Harvard doctors have some good news for you: the magic number you should be aiming for is five servings


“It is possible that the digestibility of fruits and vegetables and the availability of nutrients and other bioactive compounds of these foods may have reached a plateau at five servings for most people,” Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health professor, told Health Day.

If you live in Japan and still eat red meat, you are contributing to a way of life that supports imports of beef and pork and chicken from abroad. How do you think that is economically feasible? Well, it is not. And, it is NOT healthy. Recent data from long-term studies show that eating red meat (beef, hamburgers, pork, sausage, etc.) will cut your life expectancy. Not only that, living in Japan, are you sure you will get the health care/insurance/pension/whatever to support you if you keep on indulging?

The no red meat diet seems that much more compelling, as the new research data keeps coming in.

Meat consumption in relation to mortality from cardiovascular disease among Japanese men and women.

This study that documented 2685 deaths due to total cardiovascular disease in Japan, fails to convince me that meat consumption was not the cause.

Consumptions of meat (beef, pork, poultry, liver and processed meat) were assessed via a food frequency questionnaire administrated at baseline survey. Hazard ratios (HRs) of mortality from cardiovascular disease were estimated from Cox proportional hazards regression models according to quintiles of meat consumption after adjustment for potential confounding variables.


During 820,076 person-years of follow-up, we documented 2685 deaths due to total cardiovascular disease including 537 ischemic heart diseases and 1209 strokes.

Cutting red meat-for a longer life

New data shows substantial benefit in eliminating or reducing consumption of red meat and substituting healthier proteins.
Red meat: in addition to raising the risk for colorectal cancer and other health problems, it can actually shorten your life. That's the clear message of the latest research based on data from two ongoing, decades-long Harvard School of Public Health studies of nurses and other health professionals. It appears "healthy meat consumption" has become an oxymoron.
"This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death," according to Dr. Frank Hu, one of the senior scientists involved in the study and a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
How should you respond to this latest blow to red-blooded American cuisine? How much meat can you eat? And if not meat, what types of protein should you substitute?

Meat and mortality

In the study, published April 9, 2012, in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a team of Harvard researchers looked for statistical links between meat consumption and cause of death. The populations scrutinized included about 84,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 38,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
People in the study who ate the most red meat tended to die younger, and to die more often from cardiovascular disease and cancer. These people also tended to weigh more, exercise less, smoke tobacco more, and drink more alcohol than healthier people in the study. Yet even when the researchers compensated for the effects of unhealthy lifestyle, mortality and meat remained associated.

Portion Control

Portion control
A 3-ounce portion of meat would fit in the palm of your hand.

What the study found

After 28 years, nearly 24,000 people in these two studies died from cardiovascular disease or cancer. How much and what kind of meat did they eat while they were alive?
Using questionnaires, the scientists asked the people in the study to estimate how many servings of meat they consumed. Unprocessed red meat included beef, pork, lamb, and hamburger at serving sizes of 3 ounces, or a portion about the size of a deck of playing cards.
Processed meat included bacon, hot dogs, sausage, salami, bologna, and other processed items. Two slices of bacon represented 1 serving; so did one slice of cold cuts.
The study determined that each additional daily serving of red meat increased risk of death by 13%. The impact rose to 20% if the serving was processed, as in food items like hot dogs, bacon, and cold cuts.

What it means for you

What does a 13% increased "risk of mortality" (for each additional serving of unprocessed red meat) mean for an individual? Dr. Walter Willett, a senior scientist on the team and the chair of the departments of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests this way of looking at the study results:
"If someone is age 60 and has a 50% chance of dying in the next 25 years, adding one serving a day would increase his risk of dying in that time to about 57%, and if he had two servings a day, this would be about a 63% risk of dying in that time."
In other words, the effects of unhealthy foods are relative to where you start, and eating red meat—the study shows—comes with a mortality tax. But there is also a hefty mortality dividend to cutting back on red meat. Consuming less than half a serving (1.5 ounces) per day of red meat could have prevented about one in 10 premature deaths in men in the study.

Protein substitutions for
red meat that can reduce your early mortality risk

Substitute a daily portion of red meat with a healthier protein source to reduce mortality risk by the indicated amount:
Red Meat Substitute Reduced Risk
Fish -7%
Legumes, low-fat dairy -10%
Poultry, whole grains -14%
Nuts -19%

Substituting healthy proteins

The study points to an even greater benefit if you substitute meat with equivalent servings of more healthful protein sources, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. The benefit was 7% for substituting fish, 14% for poultry, and 19% for nuts.
Again, says Dr. Willett, there is a clear mortality dividend for such substitutions. 

"If someone who has a 50% risk of dying in the next 25 years replaces one serving of red meat per day with chicken, the risk is decreased to about 42%, and to about 40% if nuts replace red meat."

What should you do?

The prudent course would be to try to reduce red meat consumption if you already haven't. On an individual level the exact benefit is hard to predict, but you can bet that reducing meat consumption—particularly processed meat—is likely to score you an advantage. "Making these kinds of decisions is like being a smart gambler," Willett says. "Nothing is guaranteed, but this is putting the odds in your favor." 

It's a menu many men can live with—literally.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Silver Spoon

I should have posted this, they made a regular movie out of the anime Silver Spoon... So Hachiken, this regular Tokyo city kid goes to agricultural college in Hokkaido, and learns to love animals, and the rest that humans do to them... He reluctantly finds out what most people prefer not to know about, like how eggs are "made" or what happens to cute piglets when they get big and fat and...

Well, if you read Kurashi, you most likely know the rest of the story!

Enjoy... if that's the word ;)

Music by Sukima Switch

銀の匙 Silver Spoon 2014 映画 予告編

I kind of prefer the anime version, though!

銀之匙 片尾曲 - Hello Especially 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Want To Grow Vegetables? JA Youth May Be Able To Help? "New Farmer" Trend...?

Some of my veggies did good this summer, in spite of the insane heat due to the typhoons in early August.

Now, things are back to normal, somehow.

Climate change indeed, I don't remember typhoons in August when I first arrived on these shores.

Warm, yes, but not so hot and humid.

My corn was alright, very sweet and lovely after a 10 minute boil. No salt needed.

But I did really well with the purple cabbage/cucumber/carrots while lucking out in the ruccula department - they just self-seeded since last year. Bitter, tasty, my new favourite greens.

With a drop of vinegar, if you must :)

Even if you just have a balcony, do try to grow something. You will learn the basics, know when to water, and look forward to the harvest. Write a poem, enjoy the change of seasons.

Simple as that.

I'm sad to see new houses being built with ample parking space for cars, and no garden. Bad. We need to quit the asphalt and go for the soil and compost. Learn to live with your own veggies.

Even a tiny space means a lot.


FAO: The future of Family Farming: empowerment and equal rights for women and youth

To cultivate the next generation of family farmers, we must invest in women and youth.
The stereotype of the young male farmer has given way to the reality of an aging, female-fronted farming force. In the developing world, women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor—and, in some countries, they make up 80 percent of agricultural labor.

JA Youth is all over Japan trying to engage young people to like farming.

Doing pretty well, me thinks.

All kinds of events and promotions to educate people how to get started. (J)

Kyushu Ebino City

Lots and lots of blogs about starting farming.

Here is from Fukuoka in Kyushu....

Or even in west Tokyo, in Kokubunji...

Japan's Ministry for Farming, MAFF, has a special page for "new farmer" - do explore.

MAFF Facebook

They are serious about it, folks.

And then there is manga and anime to get young people to like farming? I'm all for it.

Silver Spoon” centers on a pack of individualistic youngsters who attend a vocational high school for dairy farming in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Not your average youth film about sports, first love or superheroes, this pleasant pic offers an uncommon glimpse into modern agricultural practices while teaching respect for the food chain. Adapted from the bestselling manga by Hiromu Arakawa, it is smoothly if unadventurously helmed by Keisuke Yoshida and brightened by a likable teen cast. It’s ideal material for educational screening events and could target tween auds in Asian markets.
Arakawa (who also penned the huge hit “Fullmetal Alchemist”), actually has farming roots and attended an agricultural school in Hokkaido on which the setting of “Silver Spoon” is based. Her experience lends authenticity to the fiction, underscoring the rugged pride of country folk as well as the economic difficulties they constantly face. Yoshida’s adaptation plays it safe with the original’s storyline and spirit, delivering solid, feel-good drama, but it could have done with a dollop of the quirky humor he injected into his “Cafe Isobe” (2008).
Like the manga (and the TV anime spinoff), the yarn is told from the perspective of city boy Yugo Hachiken (Kento Nakajima), who enrolls in Ooezou (aka Yezo) Agricultural School in Hokkaido’s Tokachi, a major dairy-producing region. Initially, drama arises from the clashing attitudes of Hachiken, who picked this far-flung school just to avoid his parents, and his classmates, who chose this vocation in order to inherit their family farms. The film also milks some droll humor from the school’s curriculum (which involves waking up at 4 a.m., jogging around the 20-kilometer campus, getting up close and personal with the cows and collecting horse dung), which the hardy country kids take for granted, but which feels like boot camp for wimpy Hachiken. His internship at the farm of classmate Aki Mikage (Alice Hirose) reveals the back-breaking work as well as the impressive modern technology that go into running such an operation.
However, the story’s core values are expressed in Hachiken’s deepening attachment to a baby pig he names Buta-don (“pork rice bowl”). Although his classmate Ichiro Komaba (Tomohiro Ichikawa) jeers at his hypocritical sentimentality over an “animal of economy,” Hachiken struggles to accept that the pig is destined for slaughter; how he eventually deals with this not only signifies a bittersweet coming-of-age, but also advocates a posture of humility toward the ecosystem.