In a city the size of Tokyo, it's all too easy to be unaware of where your food comes from. Most of what we eat is shipped in from far away, not just the extremities of the country but from all around the world. Japan's overall food self-sufficiency rate is bad enough — a mere 38.3 percent as of 2010. The figure for the metropolis must be almost down to single digits.

So it is encouraging to see the rising popularity of farmers markets in recent years. Probably the best known is the one held at weekends outside the United Nations University in Aoyama. Others pop up with increasing frequency around the city in basements, car parks, waterfront malls and plazas in front of inner-city railway stations.

Sometimes the term "farmers market" is a misnomer. The stalls may sell farm-fresh produce — often of impeccable organic provenance, with mud still attached — but relatively few are operated by the same people who actually grow it. Even so, cutting out the distributors and supermarkets along with the chemical sprays can only be a cause worth supporting.