Friday, December 8, 2006

Too Much Food

Do you know the self-sufficiency ratio of food supplies for your country? Our number is extremely low, somewhere between 20-40% depending on how you calculate it. That means that we are dependent on more than half or actually most of the food we feed ourselves with, including the main crucial products such as soy beans.

What I want to write about today, though, isn't about the ratio but how some of the food we can grow by ourselves is being wasted. Here I'm not talking about left-overs but raw vegetables in perfect condition waiting to be harvested.

Due to the perfect weather conditions for growing agricultural products this past autumn, we have more than enough winter vegetables in the fields. Chinese cabbage, Japanese radish, cabbage, onions and so on are being dumped in huge volumes like thousands of tons. It's so sad to see them being dumped or run over by agriculture tractors. They're not soggy at all, are in perfect shape and I bet the taste is excellent too.

The national government decided on this action to protect the farmers from vegetable inflation. Indeed, the prices for these vegetables have already dropped to less than half the average price. This policy adjustment of food demand and supply was adopted 26 years ago (I think, 26) and there has only been one year that our country didn't need to do this.

By just watching the news I bet a lot of people wonder whether those vegetables really have to be destroyed. There must be some alternative way - the TV commentators also say. Some people suggest on making them into pickles like we do with many kinds of food. Others say that because we are totally dependent on imports for ingredients for frozen food we can use part of it for that. Some others wonder if we can export them abroad or grant them to countries in need of food. But then in the end, the first two aren't so efficient in terms of volume because it will only use a small portion and a great volume will still be wasted, and the last one brings up other issues like hygiene problems and cost.

I guess crushing and dumping is the easiest and cheapest way to "adjust" demand and supply.
It's reasonable, but it's really "mottainai". I remember that not too long ago we were extremely short of green vegetables and the prices were 4 times expensive than average. Every year some part of the country suffers typhoon attacks that destroy the fields with fruit and vegetables waiting to be harvested in just two more days.

How does your government act to these kinds of situations?

Today's update: webmanga
Charmy Nurse M Chapter 6 Preview

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