Saturday, April 14, 2012

For Better Soy Sauce

Dined at a sushi restaurant last night, and thoroughly didn't enjoy the soy sauce. Made my tongue burn. Is it cutting corners on the quality of food; the average customer doesn't know good soy sauce any more; both?

Since we have started to brew our own Kirk Rice Soy Sauce, I have noticed other soy sauces, especially when eating out. Yesterday we ate out at a restaurant that we had been to once before some time ago and thought was average. We were with the in-laws who wanted to try it out.

We walked in to the sushi shop at about 6:40, and it was packed. The waiting area for the shop ws quite large, probably consuming 1/4 of their total square footage. We waited 30 minutes to be seated.

This was a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, so at the center of the establishment was a large belt carrying a variety of sushi so that customers could pick out their favorites. Inside the beltway, several chefs waited for customers to bark orders at them for sushi that did not appear on the belt.

Admittedly, this was not an upscale restaurant, and conveyor belt sushi is thought of as cheap, fast-food style sushi. This restaurant serves a limited variety of sushi, nigiri zushi, and a very few makizushi selections. The sushi is of good quality, and the rice is not too sweet, so it suited our tastes.

Unfortunately, the quality of the soy sauce was inferior. When considering the important ingredients of sushi, three have special sushi words assigned to them. First is the neta, the fish, meat or vegetable that sits on top of the sushi. Next is the shari, or the vinegar rice. Finally there is the murasaki (which means purple in Japanese) or the soy sauce.

My guess is that people focus so much on the first two ingredients that the third has become a condiment rather than an essential ingredient.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Notes from the Workshop on Carbon Cycle Farming, Sept 11, 2011

{EAV_BLOG_VER:4ea3b82246e360a7}These are notes from the workshop on Carbon Cycle Farming (CCF) (炭素循環農法、TANSO JYUNKAN NOUHOU) held in Komono, Japan, on September 11, 2011. The teacher was Hayashi Sensei. The notes are in the order presented. We started the event at a vegetable garden, moved on to some rice paddies, and then on to a classroom.

Fermentation culture vs. Rot culture

Fungus makes use of oxygen, so the ground needs to be somewhat dry. If the ground is not dry, figure out a way to drain it. (Such as by raising rows, or digging ditches.)

Natural plants dry out. Plants fed on rot rot. ("Natural plants" is a reference to plants like weeds that are not raised on rotting plant or animal matter too rich in nitrogen.)

Bugs eat their food, rot, which is not human food. What humans are eating is bug food. Bugs are not attracted to plants grown in a fermentation culture. Bugs go to bitter leaves and fruit, which is caused by filth in the soil. To allow the soil to rid itself of the filth, grow plants, and let the bugs consume them, reducing the energy in the filth and carrying it away. Bugs will eat the garbage and then leave.

Beans hurt the earth most, and while rotation of other plants is not a necessity, rotating other plants in after beans is essential. Wheat is a good crop to plant after beans, as grasses pull up the excess nitrogen in the soil. The wheat need not be eaten, but at least leave the straw on or in the soil as food for fungus.

Keep the ground the same year round, planted or ready to plant. Raise soil.

Kids know that vegies taste bad, so they don't want them. They aren't good vegies. (One class member tasted a green tomato from the garden. It tasted bitter.) Consumer education is important. Real vegies from CCF gardens are the standard for food.

Once mushrooms come up from the soil, things will start to grow. This will take about three years. In the first year plants will grow from the rot in the ground. In the second year plants start using up the rot, and bugs eat them. In the third year, the soil is in good shape and plants will grow better.

About 3-5 cm of wood chips should be spread over and between the rows as fungus food. 10 cm of rice straw can also be used. Put it in one season before planting. Coniferous wood chips interfere with fungus growth, so put it outside to be exposed to the elements before applying directly to where the rows for plants. Between the rows will work fine as it will also retard the growth of weeds. Green bamboo can be split and laid along the row under a layer of soil.

The energy of animal and human excrement can be reduced by mixing with 50 to 100% the amount of wood chips, mixed, and allowed to ferment. The resulting material can safely be applied to gardens.Do not burn anything.

If it is clean, then wild boars will not come either, because they come in search of worms that eat the filth. Worms are good because they  eat and reduce the energy of rotting filth, and are a mark of poor conditions, not good. If the soil is clean, boars will not come through gardens.

(We moved on to the rice paddies.)

CCF for a rice paddy is somewhat different for a vegetable patch. A rice paddy is clean if the soil is all that can be seen beneath the water, or a layer of algae, not brown scum. The best conditions are deep, clean water. After harvest, mix in rice straw, mix in wood chips, and make sure living grass is not mixed in.

When growing rice, do not let the water dry out, and do not practice, "naka boshi," which is the practice of allowing the paddy to dry out to the point of cracking soil as a way of slowing growth. (Growth needs to be slowed because soil ammendments cause rice stems to grow too much, allowing the plants to fall over in strong winds or rain.) Rot encourages weeds. Again, weeds and bugs make the ground healthy as they consume the rot in the soil. Shirokaki (mixing the very fine soil at the very top of the paddy) should be done very shallow.

Natural  farming does not allow the soil to clean itself.

(We moved to the classroom.)
"I hate growing vegetables. I hate digging in the dirt. I don't have any strength. That's why I like this style of farming." "I care for life. I have no idea how to make vegetables. I know the difference between daikons and carrots. That's all I can tell you."

Okada Mokichi, and Rudolph Steiner basically talked about the same things, but didn't talk enough about this world, so people didn't listen. Don't put yourself as the standard. Avoid preferences. Fertilizers aren't bad, but people can't make food without them. Two rights don't make another right, they cause a conflict. If it's the real deal, it will spread. Up to now the development of civilization has been about destruction.

We're in the wrong position. We petition got for what we want. What we should be doing is making god's hopes for us come true. Among the all the other things god hopes for us if for us to live in peace.

A family garden must make better food faster than the pros or you might as well leave it to them.

If bugs eat fermented material, they die. If humans eat rotten material, they die. Our food is not the same.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tanso Jyunkan Nouhou: Carbon Circulation Farming

On May 5th, I participated in a workshop by Shiro Yuuji in Komono, Japan. The topic was tanso jyunkan nouhou , or carbon circulation farming (My translation. From here on CCF). This is a summation of that workshop.

I had heard of CCF, but had never had the opportunity to hear about it from someone who uses it. I would characterize the principles as follows.

CCF Principles
  • no fertilizers
  • use of wood chips or other woody medium as,
  • a culture for fungus growth
  • little watering
  • emphasis on fermentation rather than rot
  • plant and animal (human) morphology similar
  • reinterpretation of popular explanations
The workshop started in a vegetable garden, where we looked at a CCF crop in action. The rows and the area between them were covered in wood chips. Mr. Shiro showed us the fungal growth happening in the wood chips, and told us that the basic premise of CCF was the forest.

Forests grow without supplements and without more than normal rainfall. They are continuously planted in the same crops, and never becomes deficient in nutrients. The forest floor is fecund and does not require human attention.

Currently science offers an explanation of this interchage as being one of quantifiable and qualifiable nutrients that are available to the plants from the ground to the the roots and from there to the rest of the plant. But why is this interchange not available in agricultural settings? Why does the ground lose its fecundity over time and require suppliments?

Shiro's explanation is that the explanation itself is flawed. The "kasetsu" or popular wisdom is just one possible explanation of how something works. Similar to the firefighter observation, where it is assumed that firefighters start fires, because they appear at the time of a fire.

In the end, says Shiro, nature is the final teacher. Forest floors, covered in leaves and decaying plant matter, is the home to growth and health is the lowest common denominator.

We have to look to the future, not the past, and deal with the root of the problem. Our fields will change quickly. Changing our minds is the hard part, he says.

He says our bodies are very similar to plants, only inside out. Our roots are our digestive organs, and the soil is the matter that surrounds our roots, or fills our intestines in our cases.

Shiro asked what the explanation is for how we receive nutrition. We explained that the popular theory is that we grind up and mix the food we take in through our mouths in our digestive tracts and absorb the nutrients and calories through the linings of our guts.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Carefree: A state of being

The etymology of care starts with Old English, caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "serious mental attention." Carefree would mean a state of being without sorrow, or serious mental attention.

Yesterday I cycled into work, and on the way home, as the rain began to fall, I had a feeling that I don't  think I had had for a very long time, which I can only describe as carefree. It is a state that I would like to foster as an constant way of being.

Carefree is not a state of laziness or irresponsibility. I have a family to provide for, students to teach, and a farm to attend to. I responsibly fulfill my roles every day.

Carefree is a state of mental freedom. It is a condition of fearlessness. Carefree is a choice one with a free mind can make.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

McKenna Quote

"I'm not motivated, as you see. I need a place to keep some books dry. Having achieved that my motivation falls to pieces. "

From "The Last Interview" part 1, 1:00:20