Making Noodles to Save Farmland in Japan

Perennial Plate/Video screen capture

"A country's flour comes first. Then comes the cuisine."

That's how farmer and restauranteur Shimizu San explains the Japanese love of udon noodles—it is simply that the grains that grow best in Japan lend themselves to noodle making, and so the Japanese culture has developed a love for noodles.

But how does wisdom like that survive in a modern, Globalized world?

That's where tenacity comes in.

In another beautiful video from the Perennial Plate gang as they set off on their global food adventure, Daniel and Mirra once again manage to walk that fine balance between tantalizing food porn, deep insight into sustainability, and simple, thoughtful portraits of people and their craft.

We learn how Shimizu San returned to the farmland of his parents. We hear how he is fighting the encroaching suburbs by continuing to work the land. And we discover how his stewardship of traditional farming goes hand-in-hand with his efforts at culinary conservation—opening a restaurant to add value to his grain crops, and to preserve the art of udon noodle making that has been handed down through generations.

Perennial Plate/Video screen capture

Much like their substantive pieces on everything from eating roadkill in Minnesota to alternative dairy farming and letting cows retire, their real skill lies not in film making or even storytelling, but in truly seeing people—whether they are hunting in Texas, trapping frogs in Louisiana, or farming for noodles in Japan—for who they are and then presenting that face to the world.

If only more environmentalists could learn to listen like Daniel and Mirra, I suspect we'd find a lot more allies across the world.

Tags: Activism | Agriculture | Japan | Local Food