Fukuoka and Local Food

fukuokaI just finished reading The Natural Way of Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka. I will be pondering this philosophy- for it is a new philosophy, and the source of much of permaculture- for a long time. The final chapters of the book about what the author considers natural health, natural farming, and a natural diet, and how the three are really one cycle, and can’t be separated. Much of the final chapter is devoted to what the author considers a “natural diet”- not just eating foods free of modern processing, but only eating foods grown in Japan and each in their proper season. There is no regard for whether a food is native to Japan or not- for instance, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, kidney beans, and peanuts are all from the Americas- only that it will grow in Japan.

This is an outlook on local food and a land-based healthy diet that any 21st century locavore will instantly recognize. I am more aware than most of where the plants I am growing for food come from but “local foods” for me are the foods that grow here, no matter where their place of origin. I will gladly try any plant from any continent if it produces food, and as far as I’m concerned, the food produced by that plant is now local. So what would our diets include if we were to follow Fukuoka’s diet advice? Beans. Sweet potatoes. Pecans. Rice. Corn. Peanuts. Cane sugar. Honey. Sorghum molasses. Greens and cruciferous vegetables in the winter and spring, nightshades and cucurbits in the summer and fall. A wide variety of fruit from temperate to tropical but mostly persimmons, pears, oranges, and blueberries. A totally balanced diet, with plenty of variety. I think more shocking would be the foods that we take for granted but don’t actually grow here, like wheat. Oats. Asparagus. Coffee. Dates. Almonds.

I hope that others reading this book don’t think that Fukuoka is recommending that the diet he espouses is for everyone, or even anyone outside of Japan. That’s missing the point entirely. The guiding principle is to eat what grows where you live. I know in my gut that this is the future, “locavore” diets will be the only diet, and I am sincerely thankful to live in a place where food can be easily grown year-round.

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