Food education: the case of Japan

base_d936f96f2bIn Japan, since the middle of the last century the nutrition of schoolchildren was under the watchful eye of the state. Initially, this was done to save children from hunger after World War II. Nevertheless, since then the control over the diets of the schoolchildren was powered constantly, but the ubiquitous fast food had forced the government to more serious measures. In this sense, in 2004, the Japanese government adopted a mandatory school program called as “Shokuiku“, which means “Food education”.

The most integral part of the program is considered to be a school lunch, so called “Gakko-kuyshoku”. Within the framework of this program children starting from the first grade:

  • Get lunches with a specific set of dishes prepared with fresh ingredients produced in the area where the school is located;
  • Learn to cook, and set the tables in turn;
  • Eat together with classmates and teachers;
  • Help to clear the dishes.

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By the way the school lunch program teaches children to love nature and to gratefully respect those people, who grow and prepare food. In this sense,  the Japanese schools often invite farmers and nutritionists to speak with children on some topics related to food education, such as: Do not buy semi-finished products, Natural food is better than fast food, Go to bed early, get up early and do not skip the breakfast. Moreover, they teach children how to take fish, how to grow vegetables and fruits, and how other edible products are produced. In addition to this, the Japanese schools mostly plant their own vegetable gardens, where pupils learn to grow some vegetables and fruits by themselves.

Thus, it’s obvious that school lunches are not just a break between classes, but a part of the learning process of the Japanese schools. So, how do you think is there a need for a such kind of program in Kazakhstani context? If yes, why? If no, why not?

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5 thoughts on “Food education: the case of Japan

  1. Thank you for sharing this post! What a great program! I have heard that the Japanese government has created the law of Shokuiku in 2005. It is a great program which can eleminate the obesity problems of the young children. This program also supports the Japanese food culture which includes fish, fruits, vegetables, rice, meat. Kazakhstan should also implement such kind of programs in order to avoid health issues due to the unhealthy Western fast food habits of young children.

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  2. Fun post! (5/5) This reminds me entirely of a show a while back called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, where he hoped to educate one community in West Virginia about healthy food and cooking. If you are ever worried about what fast food culture might look like, check out this short clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGYs4KS_djg

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  3. Interesting! It is the serious step to make education useful and engaging. I had the similar idea when I started to cook and bake. Everything what I have done was strongly connected with chemistry. I thought: “why didn’t we learn to mix real products and explore the process at the chemistry and physics subjects”. As Phillip already mentioned I also was involved to the Jamie Oliver’s idea to educate children how to cook. I’ve send the letter with approval that I support it. In this case, I am glad that Japanese could implement it starting from the primary level. Unfortunately, in Kazakhstan there isn’t any school with this direction. However, there are cooking sections for kids in Astana mall. I think if the majority of children will like this activity, parents should initiate the necessity of cooking at school. Additionally, you as the researcher may explore this issue in Kazakhstan.

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  4. Thank you for your post makha09! This reminded me of the recent news article about the cheapest student canteen in Astana opened at the S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro-Technical University. According to the article, the university was able to cut down the prices of meals by growing its own vegetables and delivering them at low prices to the canteens at the university. You can find the article here http://www.inform.kz/ru/samaya-deshevaya-stolovaya-v-kazahstane-nahoditsya-v-astane_a2995194 I would be so glad if our university also adopts this approach improving the quality and reducing the price of the canteen meal. Besides, I believe that there will be students or professors who are willing to look after the vegetables as it’s a proven way of reducing stress.

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