Chef Yoko Higuchi knows what it takes to get Fukushima Prefecture's agricultural produce back on the map: honesty. "My customers trust me not only to give them good food, but that it contains what I say it contains, that it comes from where I say it does," she says. "If I lie, I harm them and the people here."

"Here," for Higuchi, is Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. Fukushima's eighth largest city, Nihonmatsu is a little over 80 kilometers northwest of the now crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Because it was directly in the path of radiation released by the plant's explosion in 2011, decontamination and monitoring activities remain ongoing. As a result, growers in the area continue to face concern and fear about the safety of their produce.

Higuchi uses locally grown organic or pesticide-free produce and rice, and includes testing information on all the products and ingredients she uses in her cooking classes and events. Her dedication to organic produce goes back to the early 1990s, when she first encountered it during her yearlong residency at a hotel in Alsace, France, after graduating from the Tokyo Culinary and Confectionery Arts Academy.