Monday 5 September 2011

You are what you eat...

so they say! After reading about the mom fighting the school to find out where the food was sourced (they wouldn't tell her and it turned out they were buying as much as possible from Fukushima!) and then the contaminated beef scandal, the watering down of milk scandal and heaven knows what else is going on that we don't yet know about, I decided I wanted to know exactly where Ebi-kun's yochien lunches were sourced from. 
So Saturday we went to talk to the head of the yochien, he is a lovely chap and equally concerned. He put our mind at rest and even gave us his suppliers phone numbers so we could call and ask ourselves. They are buying everything from non affected prefectures and the west of Japan and Hokkaido when possible. They use very little meat/fish in the lunches, mostly pork or chicken and no beef and they drink mugi-cha not milk. One of the suppliers actually graduated from the yochien himself so he said he has the kids interest at heart. So we have decided that Ebi-kun can continue having his lunch there. They did give us the option of sending him in with his own bento. We will continue to monitor the water and if it spikes again then send him in with bottled water.
The Etsuo-sensi also told us that they had scraped away all the sand from the sand pit after having the yochien checked for radiation and re-filled it with new sand, of course, now they have a pile of dodgy sand that they can't get rid of but at least the kids aren't playing in it. He was also concerned that the governments recommended safety levels are waaay over the limits set by the WHO.

If you are completely confused by all this radiation jargon (join the club) there is a nice chart for the visual learner here, he does admit that he is no expert and the information is gathered from various internet sites but it does give a good idea of the basics. And if you are still not concerned maybe you should watch this,  Prof. Kodama showing his anger of the Japanese governments gross negligence.

Well, I could start ranting on about it but I won't. We have changed our shopping habits and so, what we are doing is...

photo credit: Bump

Meats - buying imported meats, Hanamasa usually had a decent selection and there is also The Meat Guy (he sells more than just meat), there is some imported meat in the supermarkets buy not much of a selection.

Fruit & Veg stall 
photo credit: Heaven's gate

Fresh Fruit and Veg - Only buying produce grown in Hokkaido or the west, we have been buying a bit grown in Saitama but there are hotspots in Saitama too so I'm entirely happy about buying from here. As the summer comes to an end I will have to buy more in the way of frozen or canned and I am learning the skills of canning so that the summer veg will last us a bit longer. Once I have made some space I think we will start going to Costco too.

photo credit: cathou_cathare

Dairy - imported cheese or from Hokkaido and make my own. Milk, we only buy pasteurised. Yoghurt we have stopped buying. Eggs we buy local. Butter, we have stopped eating the Meji tube butter and now I only use unsalted butter for baking and that is made in Hokkaido.

Pre-made - I don't buy a lot of pre-made items, the bulk of our shopping is made up of fresh produce, we do buy a lot of pasta and pasta sauces but they are all imported. As we can't tell where the company is sourcing their ingredients from we are only buying imported pre-made goods.

Fruit Juice - same as above, the label only tells you where the processing plant is. We have started drinking fruit vinegars and cordials instead of pure juice.

Japanese rice and tsukemono 
photo credit: Amato

Rice/Bread - We don't eat much rice at home, a 5kg bag lasts for months! we still have some left and we bought a couple of extra bags this week because this rice will be from last years harvest and unaffected, not sure what we will do when it runs out, but rice grown in the west I assume. Bread, I make most of it myself and will continue to do so, the flour/wheat is mostly imported or grown in Hokkaido.

Am I being irrational and over the top? I don't know, maybe but I would rather be safe than sorry, I don't want to be in the situation in 10 years time when I am regretting not taking more care over the food we consume. I know a couple of the other families in the playgroup are equally concerned and are talking to their kids schools/yochien this week. If you are in Japan have your eating/shopping habits changed? Have you asked about your kids lunches?


  1. I know exactly what you are going through and I know the fear. I was actually in Kiev, Ukraine when Chernobyl happened. I was 6.
    I am so shocked at how everything is being handled in Japan. It reminds me so much of what was happening in Ukraine in 86: government lies and cover-ups. I was young, but I understood it all!
    I remember we were all given little radiation meters or something like that and we could check radiation levels of food. Everything was always so high! I remember we were drinking milk donated from other countries like Australia (I think it was Australia). Such crazy times!
    We left Ukraine soon after and stayed away for several years.
    Today we really, really want to buy Mazda 5, a car made in japan, but I wonder..... Is it safe??? Who knows anymore :(
    Best of luck to you! You are NOT being over the top!

  2. Ksenia - thank you for your kind words, I can imagine how worried your parents must have been and to have to leave your homeland is such a hard decision. I don't understand why the government is treating us like idiots and not taking the lessons learned from the Chernobyl disaster more seriously.

  3. You know, I hadn't thought about checking up on where the school meal ingredients come from! Will be investigating this week - thank you!

  4. anchan - let me know what you find out, I am interested in hearing what is going on elsewhere.


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