Radioactivity in Food: About time to ask (yourselves) a few questions…

Tea fields in Hirano, Shizuoka City

A young German friend of mine who stayed for some time in Shizuoka City (you know, near Mout Fuji…) until the horrendous earthquake in the North East of Japan confided me in a private e-mail how concerned he was with the recent mass media reaction in his country when radiocative tea was found in the Warashina District high in the mountains of Shizuoka City.

First of all, I would like to put the occurence into perspective, something that German and French mass media have willingly refused to do for obvious political (and economical) reasons:
Now, although the amount of radioactivity was only a little higher than outdated standards the tea was safe for consumption.
The radioactivity was detected in a misnuscule area at 1,000 meters altitude in a single organic tea farm.
Naturally, the aforesaid mass media did not bother to investigate on site… which reminds me of an “eminent” France 2 reporter, Alain de Calvron reporting “live” on the Fukushima disaster form Osaka City, more than 700 km away!

Corn fields in Toyoda Cho, near Iwata City in Shizuoka Prefecture.

When the earthquakes and tsunamis struck Japan, there was an almost universal concern about the country in the rest of the world which was bombarded at nasueam with films and comments of Apocalypse.
Then, two weeks later, there were general admiration and compassion for the stolid inhabitants of this country who refused to bend to natural catastrophes.
But now, we have come back to the old ways and bashing after the World realized that Japan was quickly back on its feet, and this a lot too faster to some….

Fresh Shizuoka Vegetables in Bagna Cauda style at Piatto Restaurant in Shizuoka City

Some people ought to ask themselves why Japan and the Japanese refuse to pay back everyone for the constant bashing.
Do you remember?
-Whaling: The Japanese never asked questions or comparisons with Iceland and Norway when they tried to explain their position.
-Toyota: Their President paid a personal vitit to the States to apologize. Now what is the state of the US car industry compared to Toyota?
-Bluefin tuna: Japan is the only country who succeeded, and this in 3 diferent places, Kyushu, Kinki and Shizuoka, to raise bluefin tuna from the egg (specimens weighing more than 30 kg are already swimming about) among a host of marine life they have helped re-stocking. What about Europe and the States?

I can give you at least one reason: wisdom.
People tend to forget all too easily that Japan, an island nation lost in the Pacific has found the means to live through European attempts of colnialism, WWII and and innumerable natural catastrophes from volcano eruptions to tsunamis, and has even found the time and means to develop the most progressive gastronomy in the World in between!

Blueberries grown without any pesticides in Goshima, Shizuoka City.

Not being Japanese, I will ask the questions the Japanese could throw into the faces of some:

-Germany, Italy and Spain will stop producing nuclear electicity. Where will the buy their electricity from?
-The Japanese are not even thinking of asking for radioactivity tests all over Europe. What would be the results if conducted?
-Has anyone in Europe checked what lies at the bottom of the Baltic Sea?
-Spanish, French and ships from other countries are overfishing some varieties while throwing the unwanted species back dead into the sea.

Shall I continue?

Don’t you think some honesty and introspection are in order?

Robert-Gilles Martineau


With a Glass,
POPCORNHOMESTEAD in Tokyo by Joan Lambert Bailey,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

12 thoughts on “Radioactivity in Food: About time to ask (yourselves) a few questions…”

  1. Robert-Gilles, I completely agree at 1000% with what you say and keep on repeating exactly the same thing to all those people who are scared to buy Japanese food (my grocer hesitates to import food, he has so few clients…) and I get furious when I know they sometimes block my beloved konnyaku jellies at customs how can they not block irradiated food??? (Of course if one believes that the Japanese mischieviously send irradiated food to Europe…).
    I plan to go to Japan soon, but not to visit the nuclear plants, only hundreds of km from there. If you heard the reactions of my friends and family…
    The French government who until recently believed the Tchernobyl cloud stopped at their border makes me particularly furious (I remember they didn’t want to import any fruit or mushroom from Germany or Poland, where those were at least checked and are still checked for irradiation…).
    Just like you I am wondering where the energy will come from. I have and idea: why not from the “very ecological” coal mines in ex-communist UE countries (Poland, Romania, Bulgaria…) where it’s still the majority of energy ressources? However, France and Germany will have clean hands.
    (I loved the French reporter bit: it’s as if he reported live on a nuclear catastrophe in Lyon from… Brest)


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  3. Thank you so much for this post, Robert!

    You are definitely right with what you write about the situation in Europe – people should look who’s talking…

    Moreover, I don’t want to imagine, what kind of test results we would get here, if we would check our products as intensely as they do in Japan.
    Since I still work part time in an institution for environment protection, I regularly get the latest test results of nuclear radiation, which they detect.
    When local hunters send us boar meat, we sometimes detect radioactivity above 10.000 (!) bq/kg (while the limit is 500 bq/kg). However, this doesn’t result in any hysteric media reports – people keep buying and eating boar meat and mushrooms from the wood…

    Probably Japanese food is now the safest in the world, due to all the samplings they take… But unfortunately most people won’t share this opinion, but just let theirself get carried away by media hypes – much more easy and entertaining, isn’t it…

    All this is so ridiculous…


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