TOHOKU REVIVAL CALENDAR

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20130914-00

Farmers’ Festival—Thanks, From Us Bumpkins

This is Heisei no Sendai-Shirō.

I grew up on a farm.
I remember the smell of the mud, waking up early to work all day into the night, the hard labor, expensive tractors…
But nevertheless, you know, the image of the farmer out there working his fields is pretty cool!

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In Sendai’s Kōtōdai Square there was recently a Farmers’ Festival. Its tagline: “Thanks, From Us Bumpkins”
The JA farmer’s co-ops of Miyagi (JA Sendai, JA Asahina, JA Natori/Iwanuma, JA Furukawa, JA Ishinomaki) were represented by their young members for an event to say thanks for the support they’ve gotten towards recovery after the 2011 great earthquake and tsunami.

 


Both the direct effects of the disaster and alarmism after the nuclear accident were devastating. But many have stepped up to support the reeling farmers.
Here to say thanks and help disquiet some of that alarmism they’ve set up their stalls.

 

On hand were fresh produce, grilled Miyagi oysters, and original specialty goods including ice cream for the large crowd turned out.

 

Singer-Songwriter Miki from the mountain town of Zaō headlined live entertainment.

 

“Miyagi’s recovery starts with agriculture.”
Called ‘Food Kingdom Miyagi’, the prefecture has bountiful harvests from mountain, field, and sea.
The impact of the 2011 disaster was immense.
But as this Tōhoku Revival Calendar project has shown over the last two years, so many have shown such great resilience in standing back up.

 

“We still have a long way to go. We still can’t say we’re back.”
“A lot of people are working very hard to make progress.”
“The hardest thing of all is the alarmism.”
“So many people, once they hear it’s from Miyagi or Tōhoku, they just won’t even consider the products…”

 


Since the disaster, JA has worked with farmers to thoroughly test all produce.

 

The regulations are strict, and anything outside the accepted levels is destroyed and the farm that produced it throughly inspected. There is even less reason to worry about radioactive contamination making it to market than more usual pollution or agricultural chemicals. Radioisotope contamination, where it exists, is very easy to detect with proper equipment.
The same regulations apply as well to the fishing industry.
Unfortunately, many consumers remain unconvinced.

 


I took the opportunity to ask some of the people attending this festival for Miyagi produce here about their thoughts.
“We aren’t unconcerned, but we locals aren’t so over-worried about it like many in say Tōkyō.”
“The rice I eat too is from Miyagi, just about every day.”
“It’d be nice if people wouldn’t just fall in line with the groupthink and avoid everything, instead making their own judgements.”

 

As evidenced by their turning out to the event, these people obviously have a different outlook.

 

“We want people to come out to events like this and talk with us farmers.”
“These kinds of events can bring farmers and consumers closer together.”
“Small steps, but hopefully we can make progress in dispelling the alarmism.”
“Miyagi has tasty produce! We want people to try it and have that reaction.”

 

Agriculture here has overcome many trying times over the course of history.
This jewel of Japan, and of the whole world, moves on to a future sure to be bright.

14

Sat

September,2013

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