Home-Based Food Provision and Social Capital in Japan
In rural areas of Japan—places where the natural environment and people’s livelihood activities have worked in concert over many years to create a diversity of sustainable practices and products—it has been empirically well known that pervasive practices like sharing or gifting home-based agricultural products with neighbors and relatives are embedded in social structures and principles of reciprocity. The objective of this chapter is to understand a general trend of home-based food consumption and social links associated with use of natural resources quantitatively in municipal level. We conducted web questionnaire survey collecting information from over 1500 respondents throughout Japan and found that (1) people share diverse agricultural products grown in their own homegardens, (2) the amount of such shared products consumed in household was significantly higher in rural municipalities compared with urban municipalities, and (3) social connections relating to use of natural resources were stronger in rural municipalities. These results suggest that self-production and sharing practices substantially relate to human nutritional well-being and social relations, especially in rural areas. The findings could also provide basic information to increase regional resilience by ensuring food availability in emergencies, which are, for example, caused by climate change, natural disasters, or social changes such as aging and shrinking populations.
KeywordsHomegarden Agricultural products Self-production Social relations Human well-being Questionnaire survey Ecosystem services
This study was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (1–1303, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment) and Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science).
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