Fukuoka vs. Food Network

15 Sep

Fukuoka’s belief is that humans should live simply and directly, therefore eliminating all problems associated with human tampering. His philosophy of food is much the same: we should all eat a humble, natural diet, ending problems of obesity and economic hardship. Fukuoka holds all others who do otherwise in disdain, primarily those who needlessly indulge in meat and imported foods – the “foodies.”

In the 21st century, the ‘unnatural’ state of our food that Fukuoka so much despised has been taken to a whole new level, since modern chefs are far more adept at manipulating food into unrecognizable forms than the chefs of the Meiji era. The contemporary “foodie” has also found his own niche in popular culture with the Food Network. An entire channel devoted to the consumption and appreciation of food – not the humble food of Fukuoka’s passion, but elaborately prepared and expensively produced food would surely earn us Fukuoka’s disdain. Though if he were still alive today, Fukuoka would have been fighting a losing battle against the growing “foodie” culture. The fanatic obsession with examining food is a global obsession, not merely an American one, despite the stereotypes accorded to us by other countries.

 However extreme the modern day “foodie” may be, we cannot overlook the importance of the “foodie” in the Meiji era. The foodie’s interest in restaurants, food science, preparation, taste, and especially the new, foreign foods from the West gave food a value beyond its literal price. Japan, which had previously closed itself to the West during the Tokugawa period, began experimenting with Western food and dining. Food became the means through which the isolation between the West and Japan came to a gradual end.

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