Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organic farming in Japan

I just got a demanding skype message from my brother telling me (and I quote) "You're not allowed any days off blogging! Mum and I were chatting the other day and we both get irrationally grumpy when you don't put up anything for ages! How am I meant to get through my boring work afternoons if you don't!?". So despite having only 20 minutes before I need to get the kids to their grandparents so I can get to a meeting that I am not likely to get home from before midnight... I will write a quick post. I would hate to think that I am causing any additional grumpiness in our family!
I grow my vegetables organically, but I would never claim that my vegetables are organic. Confused? I never use chemicals in my garden, but the amount of chemicals used on the rice in the surrounding fields is so great that I could never claim that it didn't effect my vegetables - as much as I'd like to say it didn't! I got to be a part of the chemical movement before rice planting started this year. As my mother in law was out of action I got to sprinkle 230 trays of rice seedlings with some kind of chemical (made by THE CHEMICAL COMPANY) that is supposed to kill basically any living thing that comes within a few meters of it. I was warned to make sure I had gloves on and given the special shaker and instructions to spread the contents very evenly over 10 trays. And then repeat the process 23 times.... Just imagine a huge salt shaker and imagine the aches in the not-often-used wrist muscles after completing the task... My parents in law are pretty picky about the way things are done, but I followed a relative's advice and made sure that the corners and edges were well done (ie the bits that could actually be seen) and didn't worry too much about the middle. There were no complaints at rice planting time which means that I will probably be given the job again next year... perhaps I should have done a really bad job! Can hardly wait for the helicopter spraying to begin...

Sorry Mike... not exactly exciting reading, but I did try!


  1. I hear ya.

    we had the choice of choosing the rice shoots with no medicine, or the one with. The problem is that those without are made for people who have their own favorite chemical. If we were to plant our rice completely without, and rice in the paddies nearby started getting sick, ours would be the first to be blamed. We had to go with the "medicated" shoots.

    Also, as you mention, there is so much run off coming into the field from every other paddy above it, and there are a lot) that there is no way to claim anything *close* to organic. And while we are allowed to opt out of the remote controlled helicopter spraying that happens twice a year, the paddies just one meter on every side opt in...

    We use "low-footprint" to describe our rice when we sell/give it to people, since we plant, weed, and harvest all by hand.

  2. In my defence I did say it was only when you'd not posted for ages!

    And it's not my fault that there is a very fortuitous combination of time zone differences between Japan and the UK, your usual posting time, and my usual sandwich time when at work...

    And I don't need exciting. I barely need interesting! Anything goes, as long as it won't make me gag on my sandwich!

  3. Anonymous7:17 PM

    I feel I should defend myself too!! Definitely not wanting to 'demand' anything from you, but obvioulsy we both enjoy your postings.
    Anyway - Mike is hardly one to talk, although his portings have been much more frequent of late.
    From the other alleged 'Demander'

  4. Can I borrow your family? Imagine that - a family interested in your life. That would be nice!! Mine are so crap. Am thinking some of my posts would make Mike gag on his lunch but!!

    What did I do wrong with the zucchini cake? Didn't rise much. Was I meant to drain the zucchini after I grated it?

  5. 23 times, oh my, your poor wrist indeed. : ( And ha ha ha, I think you're right, I bet, you get that job next year too. : ) : )