Lessons from Japan: promoting underutilized food crops through tourism

Rachel Thomas Tharmabalan


For the first time in the XXI century, the number of people suffering from obesity worldwide surpassed the number of undernourished people. For many developing countries, this presented a so-called "double burden" of coping for over- and under-nourishment. At a rate of more than 50% of the population in Malaysia being either overweight or obese, the country is facing the most severe dietary crisis in East Asia. Often recognized as one of the healthiest populations worldwide and having a blue zone, Japan has managed to set a yardstick for countries around Asia. Hence the purpose of this study was to uncover the capacity for contribution and successful integration of traditional vegetables into Japanese daily food practices. Semi structured interviews were conducted together with participating observation with key informants to help understand the role of women in preserving and safeguarding traditional vegetables also known as 'sansai' in terms of farming and food preparation. In order to solve the unhealthy eating patterns among Malaysians, it is timely to start appreciating the contributions of the older generation in terms of wild edible usage and preparatory methods which can help alleviate the double burden of malnutrition among the population.


Wild edible food systems; food and nutrition security; sansai

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