The alternative food movement in Japan: Challenges, limits, and resilience of the teikei system
The teikei movement is a Japanese version of the alternative food movement, which emerged around the late 1960s and early 1970s. Similar to now well-known Community Supported Agriculture, it is a farmer-consumer partnership that involves direct exchanges of organic foods. It also aims to build a community that coexists with the natural environment through mutually supportive relationships between farmers and consumers. This article examined the history of the teikei movement. The movement began as a reaction to negative impacts of mechanized and chemically intensive agriculture promoted by the Japanese government. The movement experienced a rapid expansion in the early 1980s, and then gradually declined thereafter. The organic market expansion and certification system intersected with both cultural and gender role changes, impacting the teikei movement negatively. Consequently, the membership of teikei consumer groups has shrunk. Furthermore, the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident caused unprece dented damage to organic farmers in the affected regions. Despite the scientific uncertain about the safety level of radiation exposure, the organic farmers and the teikei consumer groups managed the situation and found a way to inspect radiation contamination. They did so with the support by networking with other teikei-related actors. This response to the nuclear power plant accident suggests that although the level of embeddedness presumably varies among teikei actors, ethics guided by the teikei principles are effective in forging a resilient partnership between farmers and consumers and in keeping the teikei system alive as an agent for social change.
KeywordsAlternative movement Teikei CSAs Japan Organic farming Housewives
Anzenna Tabemono-wo Tsukutte Taberu-kai
Japan Organic Agriculture Association
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan