A grab bag of features to round out the week on the subject of food, in all its weird and wonderful forms, and the tricky business of getting it to those who need it:
- Last year saw the closure of an expat institution: the Foreign Buyers’ Club, which for decades was the only way for expats to get a true taste of home — be it Honey Nut Cheerios, Kraft Mac & Cheese or whatever. The pandemic can’t have helped matters, but as Jeremy Wilgus explains, FBC’s demise had more to do with changing Japanese tastes and online competition.
- Kenichi Narita is a man obsessed with a question: How can Japan eradicate food waste? A decades-long quest to answer that conundrum, sparked by a brush with cancer as a teenager, culminated with the recent opening of what is believed to be Japan’s first-ever community fridge, which provides free food to low-income families in Okayama, writes J.J. O’Donoghue.
- For Kazuki Shimizu, it all started when he munched on a locust boiled in soy sauce during a biology class in high school. Now a university student, Shimizu is hoping his “KonTube” cooking shows and cricket coffee will help people swat away their aversion to eating our six-legged friends. “When the perception toward eating insects changes, I want to share that moment with as many people as I can,” he enthuses.
- When disaster strikes, what do you eat to survive? Until recently, the standard fare at evacuation centers in Japan was hard, dry biscuits — not great for elderly people, and certainly not nutritionally balanced. Enter Life Stock — jelly packs that can be stored for five years in case of emergency, developed by a firm in Miyagi Prefecture based on lessons learned in the 3/11 disasters.
- Cacao production has historically been confined to regions such as West Africa, Indonesia and South America. No longer: Tokyo Cacao has come up with the capital’s — and Japan’s — first “soil to bar” chocolate, produced from cacao trees planted on the Ogasawara Islands (hey, they’re part of Tokyo, officially). As Jeana Cadby writes, the soil-to-bar process took about a decade and a half. “We have prioritized romance over business sense,” admits Tokyo Cacao boss Masayuki Hiratsuka.