PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: JA East Tokushima - Supporting Japan's Local Farmers
Japan has a long history of pride and support for its local farmers. The Japan Agricultural Co-operatives (JA or Nōkyō (農協)) was originally founded by the Japanese government as a regulating body of its agricultural industry, but now takes on a more grassroots farmers’ organizational feel. Their aim is to promote better farming activities in Japan and to provide support to local farmers and producers. There are almost 700 regional members that participate in everything from production, packaging, transportation and marketing of locally farmed goods.
One of these co-ops is JA East Tokushima which is located on the eastern side of Shikoku Island, the smallest of Japan’s major islands which is famous for its 1,200km, 88-temple Buddhist pilgrimage route. It's also home to breathtaking mountains and rivers, and some of Japan's best farming grounds.
Photo courtesy of Japan Travel
The strong heat and fertile soil in Tokushima makes it the perfect spot for growing okra. Komatsushima City is famous for its okra production and boasts the oldest cultivation history in Tokushima Prefecture.
Photo courtesy of Komatsushima Oishii Net
Okra is known as a "neba-neba" food in Japan, a group of foods (including natto and yama-imo, a sticky potato) that have a slimy and gooey texture and are rich in vitamins, folic acid and dietary fiber. They've been studied for their ability to improve insulin sensitivity and oxidative stress and are a great way to beat off summer heat fatigue. Okra specifically contains a large amount magnesium, carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. It's also considered an "engay" food which are easy to swallow and ideal for the elderly or those who have difficulty swallowing.
The Okra powder we featured in our July Nourishing Essentials Care Packages includes the whole okra from stalk to seed, and is freeze-dried to maintain its high nutritional value. Each 1g serving includes 1 full okra making it a true nutritional powerhouse as well as its original aroma. It can be added to any dish as a nutritional boost, mixed into any cold noodle recipe with a little bit of soy-sauce, dashi or ponzu, used in cookies or pancakes, or mixed with water to make a healthy drink.
Photo courtesy of @kankitumankitu
Learn more about JA East Tokushima at http://www.ja-higashitks.or.jp/index.html