Photo: Doppio LLC
food

Help Japanese farmers reduce food waste with curry paste made from imperfect produce

9 Comments
By grape Japan

In 2004, Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following year, in 2005, Maathai came to Japan and was so impressed by the meaning of the Japanese word もったいない mottainai, which conveys a sense of regret over waste, that she later proposed the MOTTAINAI Campaign. Focusing on the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and respect, the campaign, which was conducted both in Japan and internationally, encouraged environmentalism and reduction of waste.

In spite of these efforts, unfortunately, we can still see examples of mottainai everywhere in Japan.

One of them is food waste. For example, a large number of fruits and vegetables that have no problems in terms of freshness, taste, or quality are discarded before they reach the stores simply because they are misshapen and thus considered "imperfect."

The problem of food waste in Japan is a serious one. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the amount of food wasted by the average Japanese person in 2017 was about 48 kg, which is the same amount as throwing away a cup of rice every day.

In order to solve this problem of food waste, Doppio LLC, headquartered in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, has started a new initiative.

Curry Paste Made from Mottainai Vegetables

Beginning in Fall 2020, they launched a product called "Curry Paste from the Field."

Made from seasonal vegetables that were scheduled to be discarded, the product aims to contribute to a reduction in food waste.

In 2020, food items of all sorts, and not just fruits and vegetables, were discarded without being used due to the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. With the pandemic continuing this year, the amount of food waste is expected to increase.

Doppio LLC hopes that their "Curry Paste from the Field" can play a role in leveling the curve. They have already released it three times, with their most recent release in February 2021.

"Curry Paste from the Field" is made from a variety of vegetables including unique Japanese cultivars, such as Kuroda Gosun carrots and Kintoki (Red Kyoto) carrots, not to mention green onions and many more. The healthy and flavorful blend of vegetables freshly harvested from the field is characterized by its rich flavor.

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Photo: Doppio LLC

To make curry, heat Curry Paste from the Field in a pot and add your favorite ingredients. After that, add an appropriate amount of water, yogurt, and coconut milk to the mix, and once the ingredients are cooked, the dish is ready to serve.

Of course, Curry Paste from the Field won't singlehandedly solve the problem of food waste in Japan.

However, products like these can help direct much-needed attention to the problem and increase awareness of its existence. If we can make improvements starting from our immediate surroundings, we will surely be able to solve larger problems someday.

Curry Paste from the Field はたけのカレーペースト

Although the most recent third batch is currently sold out due to popular demand, it will be sold again in the future, so please continue checking their website for updates. Also, please note that the flavor profile may slightly vary depending on the vegetables available at harvest time.

Read more stories from grape Japan.

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© grape Japan

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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It is sad that supermarkets are so particular about what fruit and vegetable shapes they will accept, although this only reflects consumer demands (which itself comes from unrealistic expectations of perfect shapes, sold to it by the supermarkets).

However, a lot does go into processed food.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a bloody waste. You could use those 'imperfect' food to make, like here, curry paste, and also things like jam, chutneys, fruit pies, stews, smoothies. Limitless. And yet the bin is the first answer.

Ah_so:

The B-food section which is heavily discounted is quite popular. There are quite a few poor people or people, like me, who don't see the need to indulge on way overpriced food.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Pukey2Today 09:56 am JST

The B-food section which is heavily discounted is quite popular. There are quite a few poor people or people, like me, who don't see the need to indulge on way overpriced food.

Same here. But that's just a tiny fraction of people here. Just go to an ordinary supermarket, anywhere. Even to a local 田舎のスーパー. IF there is (for example) a cucumber with a weird shape, most people will not buy it. Slightly bruised banana where the bruises turn brown? Nah, it's moldy, etc. Hair and bumps on your mini carrot? Nope.

On the one hand, they throw away perfectly edible and safe things like apples, on the other hand, they sell single packed apples for a ridiculous price of 1000Yen per piece, putting プレミアム stamps all over it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Robert:

I have no problems with buying bent cucumbers!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tried this and it is good. But like other Japanese "curry" it is way sweet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aren't most processed food and fruit and vegetable juices made with imperfect produce?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The best way to ensure tons of fruit n veg isn't getting discarded in Japan would be to actually allow people to buy imperfect looking ones for a reasonable price ffs.

The government says they want to reduce food waste but the agriculture ministry keeps on with this wasteful practice to keep prices inflated.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People are too picky. In my childhood we gardened extensively and quite often had less than perfect fruit and vegetables. The trimmed portions were fed to the chickens or put in the compost heap. If we found a worm in an ear of corn we would cut off the damaged portion and perhaps save the worm for fish bait. My mother was raised during the great depression and her motto was, "Use it up or wear it out."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The following year, in 2005, Maathai came to Japan and was so impressed by the meaning of the Japanese word もったいない mottainai, which conveys a sense of regret over waste, that she later proposed the MOTTAINAI Campaign."

The Japanese sure love to milk this for all its worth, even though literally no other nation besides Japan and maybe this woman's home country know she said this, or about the campaign. What's more, while they love to toot their own horn about it, they may well be bragging about how eco-friendly and un-wasteful they are as they wash the dishes with enough constantly running water to last a family in India a year. Recycling wasn't even a thing here until the mid '00s, and garbage separation still isn't that strict, and with recycling centers throwing out more than half of what they get, and during all that Japan is one of the biggest food wasters in the world when it comes to convenience stores and supermarkets because people get scared of misshapen vegetables and best-before dates.

This is a decent effort, but not even NEARLY enough, and certainly not even close to enough to say they are not MOTTAINAIing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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