What “Nature” means to Fukuoka, and What We Can Do

16 Sep

In the movie Ratatouille, all kinds of complicated dishes are served to the wealthy patrons of a French restaurant.  However, it is the taste of a simple dish which wins over the heart of the harshest of food critics.  Masanobu Fukuoka might have said, “I told you so,” but there is much more to his philosophy of simplicity in food.

Modern society’s obsession with refined, commercialized food clashes with Fukuoka’s belief in the consumption of purely natural foods.  The sad reality is that even those who think they eat a lot of natural foods probably do not, if going by Fukuoka’s definition.  First, Fukuoka is not just referring to snack food with preservative elements; he is also referring to chemicals used during the growth of crops.  He has shown that crops grown without chemicals and insecticides may actually be healthier than the chemical-doused crops grown by huge companies.  The consumption of out-of-season fruits, as an example, would also be the consumption of unnatural chemicals.  I do not believe it is practical for everyone to stop buying fruits and vegetables grown with the use of chemicals; were today’s diminished count of farmers to forsake “science” when growing crops, we would not have enough food for the Earth’s current population.

There is one aspect of Fukuoka’s wishes which can, however, be tackled.  Today, it is all too common to find the taste of natural food overwhelmed with artificially added flavors.  Vegetarians who swear by natural foods slather them with unnatural dressing.  Americans commonly oversalt foods of all kinds.  Snack and soda manufacturers all cram too much sugar into too small a space (have you ever measured out 40 grams of sugar and seen how much space it occupies?).  It is completely within our power to choose to consume foods with a limited amount of additional flavorings, in an attempt to get back to “natural” taste.

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