Fight cancer! – Eat Rice!

Rice consumption may help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, a study has suggested.

Professor Ann Richardson of the University of Canterbury said more than 2800 Kiwis were diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and it was “very possible” dietary changes were associated with world cancer trends.

“Rapid increases in the incidence of bowel cancer in Japan and Hong Kong have been linked to dietary changes which have occurred in these countries over the last 50 years,” quoted her as saying.

Per capita, rice consumption declined by almost 50 per cent in Japan over the past 20 to 30 years.

Read the rest of the story: Eating rice may help fight cancer.

Is the World Producing Enough Food?

Global food prices are soaring again, as droughts, freezes and floods have affected various crops in many parts of the world. At the same time, demand is rising with living standards in fast-growing countries.

The price spikes are not as sharp as they were in 2008, but the new volatility reflects more than the sum of recent freakish weather "events," from severe droughts in China and Russia to floods in Australia to a deep freeze in Mexico.

Economists and scientists have identified longer-term changes — from global warming to China’s economic growth to a lack of productive farmland — as the culprits. Is the world producing enough food — specifically grain? Is this a continuation of the 2008 crisis, or something quite different?

Read the rest of the story: Is the World Producing Enough Food?.

Sushi chef’s global training mission – Certify it’s Reputation

Japan’s sushi industry, concerned about the reputation of its national cuisine, will next month launch a certification campaign for foreign sushi chefs, an industry group said Monday.

Similar campaigns to certify authentic sushi overseas have been criticised as an attempt to impose a "sushi police", but the All-Japan Sushi Federation says the latest effort is aimed at promoting hygiene.

"Most restaurants overseas make sushi dishes in the same kitchen as those preparing meat," said Masayoshi Kazato, a leading sushi chef who has devised the certification system.

"It gets unhygienic if you deal with raw salt-water fish in a kitchen without water running constantly for cleaning," he said.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s sushi chefs to go on global training mission.

‘Kyarabens’ Tutorial

Hexagon Bento

If you are looking for a Japanese art form to explore but haven’t found a traditional art to your taste, you might want to try the art of Kyaraben, also known as Charaben, short for “Character Bentos”.

These are bentos where the assortment of foods to go in the lunch box are made in the shapes of your favorite animation characters.  If you develop a flair, you may even want to branch into landscape-bens, portrait-bens, or even abstra-bens.  The latter three being as yet unexplored bento art territory.

Sketch for Hexagon Character Bento by Y.

To make this 100% edible art, start with a sketch of your favorite character.  From Hello Kitty to Hexa-kun (the character from the well-known television quiz show, Hexagon),  the world’s your oyster and any vegetable, fish cake, meat morsel or seaweed  sheets can form the materials.

You will find a scissor helpful for cutting seaweed; and straws are good to punch small circles in slices of ham or cheese that can be used as buttons, on faces, as polkadots, etc.

Think about your palette, and how to make colors from plain white rice adding such condiments as tomato ketchup, mentaiko or pink fish powders, or an autumn orange using pumpkin.

Color variations for egg omelette
cutting holes in cheese with the end of a straw

Bento artist at work
Koala March Ben

Sharpen your knives, get out your bento supplies, and discover that you too can sculpt rice into onigiri of various shapes and sizes that can be wrapped with colorful tastes to resemble your favorite characters.

The bentos pictured are made by my daughter,  11-year old Y., who is getting an early start in the art.  She made these bentos  for her fall school excursions (ensokus).   BTW, the Chara-bens are also ECO and can be adapted for all ages.  If you enjoy this art, you might be inclined to use your own bento more and purchase the disposable variety less.


Aikawarazu Life in Japan

Small Vegetable Plant for Use in Restaurants

Dentsu Facility Management Inc will start taking orders for the "Chef’s Farm," a small vegetable plant that can be installed in, for example, a restaurant, in June 2010.

The vegetable plant, which will be released in the summer of 2010 in Japan, was exhibited at International Food Machinery & Technology Exhibition 2010 (FOOMA JAPAN 2010), which took place from June 8 to 11, 2010, in Tokyo. It is priced at about ¥8.3 million (approx US$90,552). Dentsu Facility Management claims that it is possible to harvest 60 heads of lettuce per day (20,000 per year) and recoup the investment in about five years.

The Chef’s Farm comes with five nutriculture beds, each of which is 2,750mm in width and 1,270mm in depth. Each bed is installed with long and thin metal frames on which lettuce seeds can be planted in sponges (one piece of sponge for a seed).

Read the rest of the story: Small Vegetable Plant to Debut for Use in Restaurants.

Soy sauce ‘could reduce symptoms of menopause’

Scientists say soy contains a natural compound which can help reduce production of oestrogen, the hormone which contributes to menopausal problems.

Studies in Japan, where soy is consumed with meals regularly, found that Asian women experienced milder menopausal symptoms than Americans and Europeans where use of soy is less frequent.

Soy has already been found to have anti-cancer properties and can lower cholesterol.

Now researchers say the new wonder food could be an alternative to conventional hormone replacement therapy as a way of treating uncomfortable menopausal problems, such as hot flushes and even bone loss.

Read the rest of the story: Soy sauce ‘could reduce symptoms of the menopause’

Japan opposes bluefin tuna ban

Japan opposes plans to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is highly prized in sushi and sashimi, as a most-endangered species and to ban its international trade, an official said on Monday.

The UN-backed wildlife trade agency supports a call to stop cross-border trade in the fish when 175 member nations to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet next month in Doha, Qatar.

Marine wildlife experts say that, despite fishing quotas, bluefin tuna stocks have plunged by 80 percent in recent decades in the Western Atlantic and Mediterranean, threatening the predator species with extinction.

Japan will not join in any agreement to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna under the United Nations treaty on endangered species, the country’s top fisheries negotiator said.

The negotiator, Masanori Miyahara, said in a telephone interview this week that Japan “would have no choice but to take a reservation” — in effect, to ignore the ban and leave its market open to continued imports — if the bluefin tuna were granted most-endangered species status.

“It’s a pity,” he said, “but it’s a matter of principle.”

Read the rest of the story: NYTIMES and AFP

The Incredible Edible Lotus Root

There is a commercial I would like to see, or even an image flashed  in the middle of prime time news these days.

The image I would like to see is this:

the lotus flower

and then this:

The incredible edible lotus root
The incredible edible lotus root

And then a slogan, like this:

A Renkon (lotus root) a day keeps the Doctor away.

In this time of news about swine flu and ozone layer depletion, what can we do to lesson images of masks and injection needles and increase images of natural remedies from the earth that will help us tap into our energy and find ways to boost our immunities?

Drive away in this, the commercial might say, with some wheels painted on the lotus.

try out these wheels
try out these wheels

We are lucky to live in Japan, where you can buy renkon in most any produce section of a supermarket.  Did you know that the flower above is the same plant as the root pictured here?

The lotus root  is easy to cut and to cook.  You simply slice it, and peel off the outer skin and can cook it in a simple broth of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi (soup stock; powdered instant is ok, just sprinkle in a teaspoon).  The taste might surprise you. It’s crunchy and filling.

I want to make you hungry for renkon.*

*and other root vegetables too!

New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative
New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative

An informative link to lotus root can be found here:


Aikawarazu Life in Japan

Healthy Everyday Foods You Can Find at Any Grocery Store

  1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
    • How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
  2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
    • How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
  3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
    • How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.
  4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
    • How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
  5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
    • How to eat: Just drink it.
  6. Dried plums: So they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.

    • How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
  7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.

    • How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
  8. Sardines: Otherwise known as “health food in a can.” They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
    • How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
  9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,” it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

    • How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
  10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
    • How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
  11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.

    • How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can find more details and recipes on the Men’s Health Web site, which published the original version of this list.

Moving Down the Food Chain or Up

blue_goals_spot“How many of us can the world support?” It depends on what level of food consumption. Right now the world produces about 2 billion tons of grain per year. Diets heavy in livestock products like the U.S., which consumes about 800 kilograms per person annually could support only 2.5 billion people if the whole world took up the U.S. way of consumption. The Italians fair better at 400 kilograms per person annually. And at the 200 kilogram level consumed by the average Indian the world grain harvest could support 10 billion.

In every society where incomes raise, people move up the food chain. They eat more animal protein. Beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and seafood are mixed at different levels depending on geography and culture, but the raise in more livestock laden diets appears to be universal with a raise in purchasing power.

The worlds grain production that feeds us and all this livestock must raise along with this trend as more nations become developed and nothing is done in the way of consumption.

But, there is something you can do. What do the Italians do that they consume about half as much as Americans? What sets them apart?

They consume most of their annual consumption per person directly as either pasta, bread, rice, or breakfast cereal. But in moderation.

And even better than that the Italians live longer, too! The average life expectancy in Italy is higher than in the U.S. It turns out that people living too high or too low on the food chain don’t live as long as those in the middle. The Indians could improve their health by consuming more animal protein.

Consuming a more Mediterranean type diet that includes meat, cheese, and seafood, but all in moderation is healthier for you.

So moving down the food chain can improve your health if you eat too much food from livestock while at the same time lowering your annual grain intake. Or, if you need to eat more animal protein it could improve your health.

Also moving down the food chain has many other positive benefits for the environment. Eating lower on the food chain means you consume less energy and water per kilogram of food you eat. Helping reduce energy consumption and pollution.

Modern agriculture depends heavily on the use of gasoline and diesel fuel in tractors for plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Irrigation pumps use diesel fuel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. Fertilizer production is also energy-intensive: the mining, manufacture, and international transport of phosphates and potash all depend on oil. Natural gas, however, is used to synthesize the basic ammonia building block in nitrogen fertilizers.

Moving down the food chain means less energy is need to produce the food you eat. A cow takes about twice as much energy to produce a kilogram of meat than that of a pig and about 6 times as much for fish and poultry. Fish is the less energy intensive with chicken coming in at a close second.

So with this in mind we will be including recipes and diet suggestions in this section to help you explore more what you can eat to help yourself live longer and save the impact you have on the environment at the same time.