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“Deeply Ingrained Advantages”: American Media Discovers Kyûshoku

Reblogged from I’ll Make It Myself:

Can Japan solve America’s food identity crisis? Japan’s relatively low rates of obesity have caught the eye of the American news media, particularly in light of our own new government controls on junk food and measures intended to prevent childhood obesity. In January, The Washington Post ran the article “On Japan’s school lunch menu: A healthy meal, made from scratch” by Chico Harlan; NPR followed up article/radio segment on bento called “In Japan, Food Can Be Almost Too Cute To Eat” by Audrey Carlsen and Daniel N.M. Turner, featuring a radio interview for All Things Considered with host Audie Cornish and author Debra Samuels.

While it is true that the content and presentation of Japanese school lunches (kyûshoku, 給食) and boxed lunches (bento) are quite different from their stereotypical American counterparts, both articles oversimplified the topics. I’d like to focus on each article separately as my criticism for each deals with distinct rather than overlapping issues. First, I’d like to discuss The Washington Post piece’s failure to address some of the negative aspects of the Japanese diet, and, in a separate post, how the NPR piece misses the mark on the “cute” issue and ignores the gendered social issues behind the bento.

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