The Delicious and Locally Produced Sweet Potato and Chestnut Tart Served in School Lunch

Not directly relating to Tea, this is a translation of the website by the Nippon Food Action Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. However, I think the importance of eating seasonally that food self-sufficiency implies matches well with the seasonal awareness so important in Tea.

1-1 What is “food self-sufficiency”?
Only having heard the name, at first glance, “food self-sufficiency” seems difficult. What do you know about it? Now, let’s learn about local products and food self-sufficiency together.

What is food self-sufficieny?
Everyone, have you ever thought about where the food we eat everyday comes from? We can divide food into stuff produced in Japan and stuff imported from foreign countries. Out of all the food we eat, the percentage produced within Japan is called food self-sufficiency. Food self-sufficiency can be caculated by ★1: “Calorie Based Self-Sufficiency” or the amount of calories included in those foods, and ★2: “Production Based Self-Sufficieny” or the value of those foods.

Food Self-Sufficiency and Foods You Eat
Let’s try looking at the food self-sufficiency and the foods you usually eat. We Japanese are 100% self-sufficient in our staple food of rice. On the other hand, you understand that our food self-sufficiency percentage–even for Japanese foods like miso soup–is suprisingly low. This is because we have to rely upon importing the raw ingredients like soy beans for miso and tofu. In the case of meat, although the animals are raised in Japan, since the cow and pig feed is imported, the self-sufficiency is low.

  • Wheat 14% (bread, pasta, udon etc.)
  • Potato 76%
  • Fruit 41%
  • Vegetables 82%
  • Beef 44%
  • Pork 52%
  • Fish 62% (for eating)
  • Livestock Feed 26%
  • Soy Beans 6% (natto, miso, tofu, salad dressing etc.)
  • Rice 100%
  • We buy a lot of corn for animal feed, wheat, and soy beans from over seas!
  • It’s because we don’t make a lot of that in Japan.
  • *Amounts are for the 20th year of Heisei.

    What about Japan’s food self-sufficiency?
    Do you know the what percentage of food self-sufficiency Japan currently has? The answer is frankly 39%. In other words, out of all the food in Japan, 39% of it is produced in Japan. We have to rely on importing the remaining 61% from foreign countries. Do you think this number is high or low? For the sake of comparision, let’s try looking at other countries’ food self-sufficieny.

    Graph: The Food Self-Sufficiency of Main Developed Countries -- Amounts from Heisei 15 (Japan from Heisei 22)

    You can understand that compared to other main developed counties, Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate is low. Australia, the top self-suffcient country is over 200%. Next is Canada, America, and France with over 100%. Compared to them, Japan who has to import over half of her food, the number 39% is very low.

    ★1 Calorie Based Self-Sufficiency is caculating using the amount of calories in the food. 39% = the amount of local foods that supply one person for one day (946 kcal) / the entire amount of food supplying one person for one day (2,458 kcal) X 100
    ★Production Based Self-Sufficieny is caculating using value of the food. 69% = the value of local foods (9.7 trillion yen) / the value of food consumed in the country (14.1 trillion yen) X 100
    *Above we have used the Calorie Based Self-Sufficiency as the percentage.

    Summary: Food self-sufficiency is whatever percentage of food we eat everyday that is produced in our own country.