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48 Hours in Gifu

August 14, 2017

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I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past, but I’ve been reading a bit about the food industry in America, and it’s freaking terrifying. Not just in terms of how they treat livestock or – worse – what they make livestock eat, but also in how they treat small farms that are trying to grow food in a more natural way. The book’s called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and it’s horrifying. Don’t read it at night because you’ll have nightmares. My point is, after reading some of that book, I appreciated my time in Gifu so much more than I would have otherwise. What I asked in the video is a legitimate question: why do we know so much more about the people that make our clothes than the people that make our food? Why do we know so little about our food? It’s a lot more important to your wellbeing than a t-shirt or a purse.

And so, going out to Gifu and learning about how farmers are growing their produce, what they’re trying to do that’s different, what they’re passionate about growing and trying, is really inspiring. We met a guy originally from Tokyo, who one day, something around 15 years ago, tried a piece of parma ham and fell in love. He bought a round trip ticket to Italy right away. Upon landing in Italy, he tore up his return ticket, and spent the next ten years learning Italian and studying how to make the best Parma ham. He came back to Japan after learning it all and set up a place in Gifu, rather than Tokyo, because Gifu had the right combination of altitude and humidity for his ham. He now makes the most delicious sliced meat I ever had. Fewer than 10% of Parma Ham factories do it the old fashioned way, the way he makes it, as most places have industrialized.

Meeting him, meeting pumpkin farmers that are making their pumpkins easier to cook, tomato farmers that are trying to make their crops sweeter, all of this shows me a passion for food that’s lost on a lot of people. I think it’s important for us to take our food more seriously, and going on trips like this with Suga really make me aware of how often I don’t think about where food comes from.

This doesn’t mean I’ll turn vegan. I probably would if I lived in the US, but – fortunately – livestock isn’t treated as terribly here in Japan. What this means is that I don’t think farmers get enough appreciation for what they do. It reminds me of when we went to Saitamaya. After the shoot, after all of the customers left, the owner kept us there for a while and cooked us another dinner. When I couldn’t finish my rice, the owner took my bowl and finished off every grain, and told me that if I knew what rice farmers go through I wouldn’t leave a single grain behind.

I’m starting to learn a bit more what farmers do. I don’t want to leave that knowledge behind.

Wow that was cheesy. Here are some extra scenes from our trip!

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48 Hours in Gifu

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  1. I just want to say you guys have in no way given the impression that you’re party animals or that you live an unhealthy lifestyle. Many of us already understand that Martina does not sleep well due to her pain. Its been mentioned in other videos.

    One person has formed the wrong impression, but most of us get it :)

    4 weeks ago
  2. Before I start gushing about the rest of the video, I have just one thing to start out with – I listened to the podcast too, and my immediate response ‘why do we know so much about clothing and not about food’ is ‘because people are paid SO SO SO much money to make SURE we know about clothing.’ Clothing, super ‘high end’ or otherwise, makes a LOT of money for the people at the top. Those people want to make more money, so they advertise like crazy. And people and companies that advertise know exactly how to get into your brain to make SURE you remember.

    Food doesn’t usually come with a profit of that magnitude. Perhaps when you get really really famous and successful, but that isn’t even a guarantee. It just doesn’t make money. This doesn’t mean I agree with the way things are at all, it’s just something that I think is as equally important to take away from all this. Why do you know about designers and not food? Because of marketing. Okay so why do we market that and not this? It creates a whole new conversation.

    Alright serious stuff aside this video was amazing! I’ve been a cook for the last ten years and I super duper love good food, and the older (more hipster??) I get, the more interested I am in exactly what you guys are off doing- going straight to the source. I loved this entire video and I want to experience what you guys experienced very much. I’m sorry you had a bad pain day there at the end, Martina, but I’m really glad you got to put some rungs in your ladder with these happy and interesting memories. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!!

    1 month ago
    • At the same time, I kind of feel like there are business interests in us knowing less about food. Food companies want us to be overwhelmed, to not want to cook for ourselves, so we can just buy their pre-made food instead. They want us to know less about food, so that we won’t be sceptical when we read the back of a box and try to decipher the ingredients listed. The more we give up on food, the less we try to know about it, the less time we spend in the kitchen, the more money supermarkets and restaurants make.

      1 month ago
  3. This looked absolutely amazing!! I’m not really even much of a fish person, but seeing those fish cooked by the fireside and just the atmosphere of it seemed amazing!

    I would love to be able to appreciate more about my food, but I sort of feel like where is it even possible to start in the United States? So many mass produce farms… There are plenty of local farmers, but not with that level of expertise. But it does feel good to support local farms in general, so I guess that’s a place to start.

    Anyways, amazing video as usual! Really makes me want to visit there!

    1 month ago
  4. Wow, the night shots on this video turned out really well! Are these just tiny fish that the comorrants regurgitate for the fishermen? How are they prepared? Sushi? As for my favourite part, I guess that I like the nice panoramic/zoom in/zoom out/pan shots of the scenery (with you frolicking in it too) since it’s something that I couldn’t see any where else and it really sets the tone for the trip/video. I do like the soundtracks you choose but on first watch, the first “wiggeda wiggedy” went on just a little too long and kind of killed the mood a bit since the scene at the time was so tranquil. I always like the way that you switch up the scenes with something very different like Spudgy at home (poor Spudgy – he can’t eat the treats!) or say Dan narrating or something, it’s one of the super fun parts of your videos that keep the pace from lagging. I take it back, the food looked super delicious, and the way you shoot them make it was really mouth-watering. Hmmm…..can’t decide on a favourite part, it’s at great XD

    As for food, I think maybe you’re being a little unfair to farmers around the world. Yes, there are some BAD factory farms (meat moreso than produce) around North America and I would even say that they dominate the market, but they’re not the only ones that there are. In Japan, it’s much easier to cultivate a mono-culture because you always have the handy fertilizer of silt from the ocean and you have fairly stable micro-climates, some of which can even harvest more than once a year. In North America, with the unstable climate year to year, region to region, and the need to rotate your crops to replenish the soil, it’s not as feasible to specialize in one form of produce because if your entire crop is wiped out, you go broke. Wheat, corn, soy beans, alfalfa are the most weather-tolerant crops, that why they are grown the most here. I’d be super interested in what other jobs/produce/industries these farmers are involved in besides their chosen specialty (you may find some other interesting industries) because I am doubtful that they can stay in business with only one type of crop, even twice per year as the premium for farmland in Japan is ri-damned-diculous. (They are handed down in families because they are the family’s treasure).

    I’m not sure why almost every video you guise feel the need to preface it with a disclaimer that you’ve had no sleep. I feel like somewhere, there are two moms going “Oh Simon and Martina, when will you ever learn to go to bed early before a trip that you know that you are taking early in the morning?” The rest of us are like “Either these guise have such a fantastic night life going that they’re not willing to give it up even if they end up as zombies on amazing trips, or they’re idiots”. I think that it would be more sympathetic if you either mentioned WHY you got no sleep or say nothing and then people might not notice your zombie-esque looks — otherwise, it’s starting to sound like a cop-out for a possibly bad video. Have more confidence…….and get more sleep, at least half of the quality of your waking life is directly dependent on how well-rested you are.

    I’m also confused as to why you didn’t skip the day’s activities on the 3rd day and rest up another night in Gifu and then just film random stuff the next day or two and travel after Martina had time to recover a little rather than forcing a long train trip when she already felt awful. The ticket change prices were probably comparable. Not that the video suffered for it, but if you’re going to travel, Martina should protect her health wherever she is (I saw her luggage, she looked well-prepared) rather than get 9-1-1-ed home all the time. The least painful option isn’t always going home right away. Cyber_3 – claims no glass ball or expertise in pain ;)

    1 month ago
    • Hello! Fellow Nasty here. ^_^

      Just wanted to answer / comment some of the things you said.

      Most likely, Simon and Martina didn’t get to sleep at a proper time because they were working on videos. In several Eat Your Sushis they have talked about how they work on videos for long hours. They also are more night people, often working until 2 or 3 AM then sleeping until Noon or 1PM only to do it again. I’m sure this was a factor in this video. They had to work on what they’ve already filmed, set up the care for the pets, pack, etc before heading out a time they aren’t used to being up.

      As for Martina’s pain, I’m certain she made the decision to come back, not that it was made for her. Gifu’s altitude and climate may have seriously contributed to her pain level so they made the decision to leave rather than stay. They may also not have had the ability to just stay an extra day. They were guests of the Chef who may have been leaving on day 3. Rather than just suffering the day and feeling grumpy about all the things she was missing out on by being locked in the hotel room, it sounds like Martina decided to go home, be surrounded by her fluffy children and her comfort items and reminisce on the fun to build her ladder.

      Obviously neither of us will ever know entirely about either thing you’ve mentioned, and I’m sure that, like me, Simon and Martina can feel that your words aren’t an attack but concerned criticism of a fan.

      1 month ago
      • Thank you for your kind reply. I agree and yes, I am a little concerned. It just seems like they talk about how little sleep and food they get in every period before video and I’m not sure if they realize how often they say it that’s it’s almost a habit? S&M seem to stay up late every night which is really, let’s face it, what most people in their 20s and 30s do if they can, and S&M can because they make their own schedule and I’m not going to tell them to not do that, even if I find it personally very unhealthy, but I’m not sure that it’s putting them in their best light to be announcing it all the time without, I don’t know, giving a reason? Are they proud of it? If so, I admit that I don’t get it. I get that Martina’s fierce pride is a large part of what sustains her when she’s not feeling well and I totally admire her for it but I have close family members who are in the same boat and, potentially she is like them and makes her situation worse. Not by defying her doctors and live life to the fullest and having great experiences, I totally support that, but in the every day when super experiences aren’t happening, the little things that you DON’T DO that you should be doing to maintain your state are left to slip because you feel it’s embarrassing to admit that you need to do them, like if you do them, you’re admitting that you’re not as healthy as you thought or you are worried about what others will think if they see you taking care. I guess that I was trying to communicate that she should not be embarrassed (in case she was) and worry more about taking it easy when she needs to.

        I see so little into S&M’s world so I know that I know nothing and who the hell even am I that I should worry about them, I guess that I’ve just seen too many family members suffer needlessly that I sometimes feel like I should say something even if it falls on the deaf internet, on the off chance that it helps. But you know, I’ve just re-read this and it sounds awfully preachy, despite my best efforts not to be so so……….while I’m tempted to just delete it, I won’t, but I think I’ll just sit to the side for a while and shut my mouth. Obviously *something* has struck a cord with me and I need to deal with it on my own instead of leaking all over the webz. Sigh, this super rainy dreary summer is finally getting to me, I think. However, I can’t stop watching – LOL! – Simon and Martina have ruined me for most other vlogs, especially food ones – the others all just seem so lame by comparison.

        1 month ago
        • To answer your question about sleep, hmm. I’m not sure how to say this not sadly. Well, Martina doesn’t sleep well because of her pain. And if she doesn’t sleep well I don’t sleep well either. It’s hard to fall asleep when you’re in pain, hard to stay asleep when you’re in pain, hard to get out of bed when you slept so poorly. And it’s hard to think of little else when you’ve had a week of bad sleep. We let that slip out, more often than not, when we talk about lack of sleep. We treat it lightly, so that we don’t throw Martina’s pain in people’s faces every video, but I see now that it’s giving the impression that we’re party animals or irresponsible. We’ll do better in the future!

          1 month ago
  5. Did the pet camera/ treat robot thing catch any interesting footage of spudgy and meems or did they sleep all day lol?

    1 month ago
    • It rarely catches them doing anything interesting. Meemers and Spudgy just sleep all day till we get home. They’re not very active animals at all!

      1 month ago
      • Ah damn they are not secretly super-hero animals :P Lol my dog is the same he is almost 10 now and while he used to try and escape regularly as a younger dog he prefers long naps in front of the a/c or heater

        4 weeks ago
  6. The food industry in America is pretty terrifying. However, especially in the Midwest there is a movement to know your farmer. It’s the way many of us grew up by necessity. I knew where my food came from because I either helped raise and process it myself or we traded with someone who did. Until recently this was seen as the way the poor lives. Its refreshing to see entire states like Tennessee who are backing small non corporate farms and encouraging others to do the same.

    1 month ago