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Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009

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Yokohama farm event sprouts to spread Slow Food in Japan

Staff writer

YOKOHAMA — A food exhibition featuring local produce and the farmers who grew it opened Friday in Yokohama's Naka Ward to promote the Slow Food movement in Japan.

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Taking her time: A woman examines a booth marketing farm products from Hyogo Prefecture with her son and friends Friday at "Slow Food Nippon 2009" in Yokohama. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTOS

The main site for "Slow Food Nippon 2009" is near Bashamichi Station on the Minato Mirai Line, where cafes and stalls are marketing naturally grown fruits, vegetables, rice and other farm products until Sunday.

The event was organized by the nonprofit organizations Slow Food Japan and Slow Food Italy, which are also being supported by local Yokohama citizens, the groups said.

The Slow Food concept promotes the use, enjoyment and preservation of crops that are locally grown and cooked naturally. It also aims to protect small-scale farmers and counter the encroachment of fast food on agriculture.

The Slow Food movement began in Italy in the 1980s to protest the opening of a McDonald's outlet near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

The concept began spreading in Japan around 2000, with the local branch of Slow Food Italy established in 2004 in Sendai.

According to Yumi Nomoto, a member of Slow Food Japan's Tokyo office, the event is also being held to foster a network of farmers and consumers.

Nomoto said people's sense of taste is usually developed by the time they are 10, but that many children today have been too exposed to fast food.

"It's sad that people nowadays cannot recognize the delicious taste of natural food because of artificial additives," she said.

Masako Hashimoto, a housewife in Yokohama who was at the event Friday, is concerned about the food children eat.

"I came here because I wanted to give my 1-year-old son safe, natural food," said Hashimoto, who arrived at the market as soon as it opened with her son and her friends.

"I'm looking forward to buying some food that I cannot find at a supermarket, and talking to farmers," she said.

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