Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

what are you not eating? 2011/6/13 16:17
The radioactivity situation seems to be constantly changing, and so is the advice.
So I just wanted to check what other people are eating/not eating at the moment.
Also which areas of Japan are people not eating produce from?
I don't feel I can trust government sources/newspapers as they seem to have a vested interest in protecting food businesses.
Whilst I feel sad for farmers, I think the population's health is more important than business.

So this is me :

I am not eating/drinking...
any leafy veg
green tea

I am eating/drinking...
tap water
+ all drinks apart from green tea
all meat
all skin and flesh type fruit and veg like apples avocado cucumbers etc

If people can reply in a similar way with reasoning or advice I would be extremely grateful.


by gilesdesign (guest)  

Shopping Smart and Eating Balanced 2011/6/14 00:23
(Believe me, I tried to make this as short as possible.)

I'm basically eating anything that is legally sold or served, because I am over 40 years old and living in Yokohama. But I try to eat balanced meals. I don't eat a large amount of one type of food from one farm for days.

Meanwhile, I try to watch out for what I feed to my 19 year old son, because being young he is supposed to be biologically more sensitive to radiation, and also because he says that it makes him feel less stressful. I don't pay attention to what he decides to eat outside his home, but when I cook, I buy most of his food from Aichi and southern and I look up official websites of his favorite bottled drinks and snacks to make sure the ingredients were harvested in the safer periods and regions.

If I feel that I am buying less from certain industries or regions, I donate money to the prefecture or union involved. I also try to maintain the amount I buy from certain farms. For example, the other day I hesitated to buy an artichoke (because I'm sure they don't test artichokes) from one farm but I bought cabbage and carrots from the same farm instead. I think financial fulfillness is extremely important for a physically healthy life.

I don't think the government is announcing false radiation levels, because when we compare the figures it all makes sense. But I feel that they very often try not to tell whatever they don't have to tell, as they need to protect certain industries. And they're not even hiding it.

For example, just by viewing official charts and major news, we can see that it takes at least 2 days to find contamination after a fresh sample is taken. In a way, this can't be helped, because technique and time is required to obtain a reliable figure of radiation, while manpower and kits are lacking due to the critical situation.

We can also see from official charts that not all food is being tested, and major news tells us that some types of radioactive materials such as strontium which takes a couple of months to be fully tested has only begun to be detected.

The good news is that at places far from Fukushima Daiichi, not one bit of iodine or cesium has been detected from most of the limited food that has been tested, and at farther areas, radiation level in the air had always been the same. This is quite different from the Fukushima Daiichi area where radiation in the air was always higher since 3.11 and where almost every kind of food has now been officially banned from the market due to the unfortunate detection results.

In other words, if a grown person ate a decent amount of fresh food from Greater Tokyo and finds out 2 days later that the food was contaminated, I don't think that the person is doomed. I think it's the same thing as finding out that the person has accidentally smoked some cigarettes. If the person tries to maintain a healthy life from then on, the person is likely to be okay. We've learned that from Chernobyl. Most people who were adults then have survived with no problem.

At the same time, I hope people know that most tea that is currently sold is not "shin-cha" (new tea), in other words, what is sold now are mostly tea that was harvested last summer. And personally, I don't think it's worth staying away from "all" Japanese spinach. For example, lettuce in Fukusima is officially dangerous while spinach in Kumamoto is officially safe having absolutely no iodine and cesium detected.

I would rather fear the lack of important nutrition. Plus, if you go to the market, the prefecture of production is all written on the product, often along with the name of the farm. All you have to do is to either learn the kanji or ask the clerk. And you don't have to be shy to ask about radiation. Shop clerks and manufacturer phone operators are very helpful on this issue.

I also try to buy food from organic food shops I personally trust. The anti-nuke-power-plant one I've been buying from since Chernobyl has finally managed to obtain a detecting instrument that allows them to test all vegetables and fruits they sell, and they will soon try to do the same for their soy, fish and meat.

Again, I don't think we can say the same for infants and toddlers. They require extra care on this issue. I really think the government should speed up on detection tests, financial support, and delivering simple detecting instruments so that people can see for themselves. And if the government needs to ask for help from overseas, they should. For consumers, if they don't want to buy Japan, they should at least buy imported food to maintain proper nutrition.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

kanji and info sources 2011/6/14 10:38
Wow Thanks Uco, a great help.
In recent weeks lots of Japanese people
I speak to are privately getting more picky with what they eat, that has kind of made me nervous and thinking I should take more care.
The bit I find most difficult is knowing where stuff comes from. Can you list a few kanji of places you think it would be helpful to be able to read on packaging?
Also where does the government publish information on types of food with areas grown where radiation has been detected above limit?
I just seem to hear bits from various new sources but it is hard to keep track of up to date and reliable info.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

voluntary restraint 2011/6/14 10:47
just one extra question, on the world village link talking about food from fukushima prefecture, it says next to each of the foods
"Voluntary restraint of consumption and shipment". I don't really understand, the word "voluntary restraint" suggests the government advise against it but leave judgement to the food producer.
is that correct?
If so it is a bit worrying.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Didn't know about this... 2011/6/14 15:14
Hello, I arrived in Japan on May 31 and will be staying for a total of 1 month in Yokohama (15 days left). My second month here will be in Osaka, so that isn't a concern as it's so far away.

I didn't know the food was contaminated here. For the past 15 days, I've been eating whatever (konbini dinners and rice balls, restaurant foods, teas, ice creams, just anything) without a second thought. I'm freaked out now.

What exactly should I be avoiding? I know nothing about brands and where they come from; plus, I can't read the kanji to see where a certain food has come from most of the time.

What should I do at this point? Could I be "radiated"? What should I stop eating/etc.?

Kind of freaked out now... But, maybe I"m here for such a small amount of time that there won't be enough exposure. What do y'all think?
by GoLizzy rate this post as useful

dont panic 2011/6/14 15:31
Yeah as you say you are only here for a few weeks so I doubt you need to worry that much.
The radiation in food accumulates inside you so it is more of a problem for those of us living here for years not weeks.
If you have kids here or you are pregnant I would suggest you are more cautious...but really I dont know what to think anymore.
Some people get angry when I mention it, I have friends who are pregnant so I worry for them but many people dont want to discuss it. People see it a bit like selfish complaining becuase of the poor farmers with no business and awful hardships endured by the tsunami victims. Maybe they are right? dunno.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

Estimation based on ICRP 2011/6/14 16:42

I would like to say I am very proud that you are Japanese.

To gilesdesign,

I am not a specialist but learned radiobiology in tha past. The following link (pdf) might be useful.

However, it should be noted that the risk estimation varies among researchers (500 to 4000 additional death by 1 Sievert, 10000 individuals), and the exact radioactivity in the food is not known. Personally, I do not care if I were in south Kanto area, and at my age of 56 even in the Fukushima city. However, I do not want women, children and babies to be in the area where they receive 20 mili Sievert per year of so.

As for the food, most of the radioactivity now comes from Cesium 137 since Iodine 131 is almost gone due to its short half life. Cesium is not thought to be the main cause of the thyroid cancer which is caused by Iodine and is very common in the Chernobyl area. Therefore, I am not afraid so seriously about the food. BUT again we do not know the exact contamination and if a man is very afraid of the radioactivity from the food, I do not want to blame that person.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

reply 2011/6/14 21:58
To GoLizzy,

As suggested, I wouldn't worry if I were just visiting. Whenever radiation higher than official standards are detected from something, it will be promptly banned from the market, so as long as you are shopping and eating at legal shops and restaurants, you're okay. And most shops and restaurants like the combini are legal in Japan. You can ask any authority for more details and they will be more than happy to assist you.

To gilesdesign,

Scroll down the following site to learn the kanji version of all prefectures in Japan.

"Sanchi 産地" is the Japanese word meaning "production area" so ask "Sanchi wa doko desuka?" if you have problem shopping or dining.

On a related note, it is misleading to assume that all products from Fukushima or Ibaraki are dangerous, because the prefectures are huge and the other tip can be quite safer. But unfortunately, production areas at most markets are only shown by prefecture names.

And where does the government publish information on types of food with areas grown where radiation has been detected above limit? Details are shown on each prefecture's official website. The Ministry of Health's website is probably the most organized when it comes to updates.

However, they don't seem to show, for example, the newest test results of Kumamoto which was announced back in June 2nd. So for more details we have to go find other prefecture's official websites, and then go find the page showing the chart, often ending up learning they haven't uploaded it yet in the first place, especially in the southern prefectures. Also, many of the charts aren't shown in other languages.

What foreign consumers can do, however, is to contact their embassies. They might be able to assist you on details in their languages.

What is the meaning of "Voluntary restraint of consumption and shipment" shown under "Content of Request"? I suppose this is a direct translation of 出荷制限要請/摂取制限要請. Literally, this means that the government has "requested" farmers to "restrain shipment" and has requested consumers to "restrain consumption" and that these restraints should be done "voluntarily." (Makes me feel stupid just writing this.)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I suppose they call it "request" or "voluntary" because there is no punishment against this. But in reality, the "requests" are basically enforced, and the wholesalers won't try to buy them anyway. So bottom line, these products basically won't be sold to us consumers. I don't think anyone wants to be responsible for making consumers ill anyway.

By the way, I also hope that mothers of newborns are aware that you shouldn't feed "mineral water" to infants. If you want to avoid tap water, fine, but when using bottled water, you should make sure it doesn't contain excess minerals that can be too harsh for newborns. Mothers can learn the basics by properly keeping in touch with their local Hokenjo (Public Health Center).

Personally, I think that the biggest problem about rumors is that a lot of them are written in a scary style which can be very stressful. That's why I prefer to stick to official notices while making sure I read between the lines.

By the way, I also buy a lot of food from Niigata, because (A) due to the mountains, the Sea of Japan side is quite free from the Fukushima radiation and (B) I have a friend there and I want to support their recovery from the 2007 earthquake. Tohoku will be needing support, but we can't forget about the other disaster areas all over the world.

Thanks frog1954.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2011/6/15 09:07
Thanks so much, really useful info.

Thanks, good to read.
by gilesdesign (guest) rate this post as useful

dito 2011/6/17 14:11
I only buy european food at import shops and veggies/fruits from overseas at costco but I did that also before the earthquake happend. Except that I sometimes bought veggies also at the local supermarket.
by bumshakala (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread