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FUKUOKA, Japan—Once outside of Tokyo, a raucous anomaly within Japan, one quickly gains the sense that the Land of the Rising Sun is also the land of the small, local farm.
Here in Fukuoka, Japan's seventh largest city, acres upon acres of tranquil rice fields and farms are tucked between houses and temples in the shadows of skyscrapers no more than ten miles away.
In a climate roughly similar to coastal Virginia's, family farms grow fruit and vegetables nearly year-round to feed this hungry city of 1.3 million. In the suburbs, where the local farms are more abundant, consumers often will have vegetables with dinner that were picked that morning. In supermarkets in the heart of Fukuoka City, it is not uncommon to have vegetables harvested the day before.
Bite into a tomato or strawberry here, and the impact of this freshness is readily apparent. Food is so flavorful that it hardly needs preparation. Even children eat their vegetables, including notoriously nasty ones like spinach, okra, peas and beans.
The preservation of chisan-chishou in one of the most urbanized countries in the world highlights what's right about Japan's food production system and what's wrong with the centralized American system. Those advocating for more organic and locally produced food can take heart that, given government incentives and consumer support, chisan-chishou can work in the United States, too.