Its the food stupid…

Its the food stupid…

Posted on June 24, 2011
Filed Under fast, relief & aid | Leave a Comment

tohoku needs food for reliefRemember Bill Clinton? He won the US presidential election in 1992 presumuably driven by a wellspring of public support after his campaign manager James Carville came up with the simple slogan, 'Its the economy stupid!'.  It touched a nerve with the people at the time as the American economy was floundering and carried him to a resonding win.

In the end, life is often just that simple. It is most often not as complicated as most try to make it. Yesterday, I was talking to a man that stopped in our cafe to have a beer. He asked about my fast, our relief work in Tohoku Japan, and what he thought the near future would look like here in Japan.

In the end, he said, 'Its just so big, overwhelming! I dont know where to put my oars in the water'. I thought that was a great analogy. Cut right to the point. I said, that is exactly what we need to start with, just get your oar in the water! Just as if we were stuck in the ocean in a row boat, just getting your oar in the water would be a great start.

But in our case, what is cruxt of the situation? What is the common thead that connects it all together? As simple as it was in 1993, 'its the food stupid!' Are you serious Bear? Could it be that simple? Well, in the entirety of the situation of course no, it is not that simple. However as function of where we are in the time frame of this disaster, it is Right now, everything hinges on food.

There will be no economic recovery without people whose bellies are full. There will be no social adjustment when children are getting a carton of milk and one piece of bread for lunch. there will be movement from the shelters when the out of work refugees loose aid when they move into temporary housing…. The most foundational step to take, is to make sure everyone is fed and housed. Housing someone who is hungry is nothing more than a recipe for disaster.

I actually heard a Japanese government official say on broadcast TV, 'Look, we are not interested in providing aid to these people beyond housing, these people need to buy their own food and daily goods so the economy will be restored". I am quite often shocked by the things these silver spoon fed, Keio educated fools says but this was far more disconnected from reality that the usual drivel.

Lets check the current situation…

Even without delving deeper into the logistics of the situation, it is easy to see. Without food aid provided to refugees until they get settled and gainfully employed, it will simply be impossible for them to move out of the shelters into the temporary housing. And even when they do, they will simply wither without continuing aid.

Beyond that, there is a catastrophic situation brewing. The six prefectures of Tohoku, Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Yamagata, Akita, and Aomori provide a full 20% of Japan's rice. That will require more imports. With Beef being pulled from the market after being found to have eaten straw contaminated with radioactive cesium isotopes, we will see shortages nationwide of beef products. That will increase the requirement for more imports.

With hay and straw contaminated and banned for animal consumption, are not the vegetables also conataminated and dangerous for human consumption? How much will that add to the imbalance of domestic food production vs. imports?

Then there is the fisheries industry. With millions of tons of water with radioactive iodine and cesium pouring into the pacific ocean how much of the fishing industry will be lost? This stuff does not go away in a few months, nor can it be cleaned up like oil. There are many different opinions but with these heavy metals being concentrated in the algies and seaweeds to be consumed by fish and crustaceans…. and these pollutants being spread in a farther and farther radius from the crippled reactors….

At this point, I have quit allowing my children to eat fish. I love sushi, but when my fast is over on July 22nd. I will no longer eat sushi. For Gods sake, how can we know where the fish on our plates has come from? The fish from at least Chiba to Aomori is either suspicious or downright deadly… and will be for thousands of years…..

And what about the economic loss of such a huge sector of the Japanese economy?

For now, Its the food stupid. They need it. We have it, and we can help get it to them to bring stability and healing. Now give us a hand, and we will continue to feed those that need it. But it will only happen with you.


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