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Home HortTechnology Study Finds Kids with Farming Experiences Have More Connection to Local Foods
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TOKYO, JAPAN—The Japanese concept of chisan-chisho, which translates to "locally produced, locally consumed", mirrors the philosophies of the locavore movement in the United States. Both movements promote the consumption of foods grown or harvested within a 100-mile radius, citing political, environmental, economic, and health-related benefits of the related practices.

Recognizing that chisan-chisho practices can increase self-sufficiency with respect to food production, the Japanese government has stipulated that local farmers teach classes at their farms and that participants help cultivate crops at least twice a year; the intent is to teach agricultural practices and to enhance citizens' sense of attachment to their region. To support the burgeoning chisan-chisho movement, Japanese educators are being challenged to include gardening or farming experiences in their health-related programs.

Takaho Taniguchi and Rie Akamatsu, researchers from the School of Humanities and Sciences at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo, published a study in HortTechnology that shows positive relationships between childrens' hands-on farming experiences their appreciation of locally grown food. "In Japan, introducing farming experiences in the context of school has become popular in promoting locally produced, locally consumed foods," Taniguchi and Akamatsu said. "Our study examined relationships between children's farming experiences and two attributes: attitudes toward locally grown foods and sense of attachment to region."

The study reported on 1464 fifth-grade children who completed questionnaires. Children's responses concerning "attitudes toward locally grown foods" and "attachment to region" were scored and compared according to whether the child did—or did not—have farming experience. About one-quarter of the children (25.6%) responded that they "very often" had farming experiences; the scores for "attitudes toward locally grown foods" and "attachment to the region" were highest among the children who answered that they had experienced farming "very often". "We found significant positive relationships between farming experience and 'attitudes toward locally grown foods' and 'attachment to region', even after adjusting for demographic characteristics," the researchers said.

"Our research results showed that having the opportunity to experience farming may promote positive attitudes toward locally grown foods and attachment to the region in which one lives," Taniguchi and Akamatsu said. "This study suggests that collaboration between schools and local communities may support child development and local revitalization through farming programs."

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The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/3/355

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org


 

Original Article:

The Relationship between Farming Experiences and Attitudes Toward Locally Grown Foods Among Japanese Children
Takaho Taniguchi and Rie Akamatsu
HortTechnology 21:355–358. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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