Sunday, August 3, 2008

Entry for February 16, 2008

"Shoku no anzen."

Food safety.

For those of you who do not keep up with what's on the Japanese news these days (this probably includes everyone reading this but Tia-san), about 10 people ate tainted frozen dumplings in December and January, and one 5 year old girl is still hospitalized from the effects. The dumplings all came from the same frozen food factory in mainland China. While there is no telling where in production or transport the toxin made its way into the dumplings, the most severe cases of poisoning involved the insecticide methamidophos. Methamidophos is in fairly common use in mainland China but is found only in research facilities in Japan, so the Japanese media have come to the unconfirmed but understandable conclusion that the tampering happened somewhere outside Japan.

Now, I'm not about to stop buying things made in China (I don't think I could even if I tried), but it has given me reason to check what I'm eating, and more importantly, feeding the Pumpkin Princess. Plus, I would like to support local industry. So, I tried to see how domestic and local I could get with a meal I would serve to company (in this case, the in-laws).

Salmon marinade
Salmon in an onion dressing. The salmon was farmed Chilean salmon, which is an environmental nightmare, but I found a pack of the stuff that's left after the filets are cut, so that's slightly better. I think. The onions were harvested in town. The olive oil was from Italy, the wine vinegar from Yamanashi (same big Japanese island the Pumpkin Palace is located), mitsuba harvested in town.

Broccoli in anchovy sauce
Inspired by my net friend Amy, I lightly boiled some broccoli (from a local producer), then stir-fried it in Italian olive oil and locally grown garlic. I added anchovy pase (made in Italy), pine nuts (grown in China) and crushed red pepper (made in China). Big hit with the in-laws and the Pumpkin Princess (she got a version without the pine nuts and red pepper). I would have loved to add Feta cheese, but it would have cranked up the food miles. Not to mention the local supermarket doesn't carry it.

Chicken Salad
Local lettuce, hothouse tomatos from a different island in Japan, local chicken (but probably fed American corn or other grain. Most Japanese livestock are given American feed).

Boiled potatos. Locally grown.

Yamaimo sauteed in butter.
Yamaimo harvested within the city limits. Butter made in Hokkaido (different island in Japan), but milk probably (OK, almost certainly) comes from cows on American feed.

(OK, did you check out that Wiki entry on yamaimo? I did not know about its use for anything other than food. I do know that when I peel or grate yamaimo, it makes my hands itch if I don't wash them immediately, so I'm wondering...)

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