Food Education for Kids in Japan a Hot Topic
Why is this Japanese boy making a face? Well, that may be simply because he's realized how dependent Japan has become since the 1990s on non-traditional food supplies, particularly those out of season that take a tremendous amount of energy to reach that country and work their way into his diet. As you might expect, traditions have gone by the wayside in favor of a more Westernized diet, and that has lead to a decrease in traditions like regular meal times, nutritionally well-balanced diets, cooking methods that minimize leftovers and food waste, and happy family meals around the table. So how are they reaching kids to help them change their evil ways like staying up late, avoiding breakfast, and eating like a Westerner? Well, how about a program like the "Tokushima Miso Soup Project" that's taking place at the Ichiba Elementary School where teachers have been using traditional Japanese miso soup, which is familiar to kids, as a means to draw their attention to food, their communities, and the environment. Simply by studying miso soup, the students became aware of the importance of having breakfast and the traditional practice of using locally produced food in season. Their study then evolved into discussions about the issue of food self-sufficiency, a fact kids came to realize is really not the case anymore in that country. Then they looked at what makes it possible for kids to get food out of season, things like refrigeration, certain cultivation techniques, and that increase in food imports. They also discussed issues of local consumption of local products and the effects such practices can have on the environment, because as kids pointed out "Imported food has environmental impacts in producing countries." And that's something I bet very few kids in the West think about at all .