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Against The Convention: Organic Rice Farming In Japan.

Written by: Yoni Nimrod & Matheus Sborgia

Photos and visuals by Yoni Nimrod/ Edible Story

Koyuro is a young farmer in the region of Chiba Japan, he comes from a long generation of farmers in the area. Together with his father Minoru ( or “Jimmy” as everyone calls him), they operate the family farm, growing organic rice and an indigenous variety of soy called “Koito Zairai”.

The rice and soy they grow are used to produce the most delicious miso which is organic and completely natural with no additives which they sell at the local markets. Truly the best I have tasted in Japan. Koyuro’s family has been making miso for generations with their own secret recipe.

Video by Yoni Nimrod/Edible Story -- watch Koyuro’s story.

Miso is a fermented soy paste that is made out of rice, soy, and the Koji fungus which starts the fermentation process. It is the key ingredient in most Japanese soups and a crucial part of the local diet. Koyuro’s family has been making miso for generations with their own secret recipe.

They have transformed their farm to organic more than 30 years ago after experiencing that conventional rice agriculture method uses extremely toxic amounts of chemicals and metals which stay on the surface layer and are poisoning the soil. After 30 years they are still one of the only organic certified farmers in the whole region. Organic agriculture currently accounts for roughly only 1% of all cultivated agricultural land in Japan (as of 2018).

See the aging process of Miso:

2 months 6 months 2 years

Koyuro sorts and weighs his rice by hand

Koyuru only uses natural methods to grow his crops, no chemicals or fertilizers, and everything is according to traditional ways. for example, instead of pesticides, he releases ducks on the rice fields that eat the bugs which harm the rice. He also uses an old technic ignorer to dry the rice after the harvest by hanging it upside down outside to dry in the sun. Everything is done by hand down to literally choosing the rice grain by grain.

Jimmy, embraced organic agriculture when his son was born.

Young farmers are hard to come by these days, it is not a profession that the younger generation is attracted to Koyuru explains. It is important to change this fact and get the younger population to learn from old farmers how they can help preserve the food traditions of Japan before it is too late.

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