An American scholar is filming a documentary on Japan's school lunches, looking into how "kyushoku" prepared in school kitchens play a key role in…
...But while teaching abroad in Shimane Prefecture on the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program in 2009-2011 while in her 20s, Sanborn began to love "kyushoku," Japan's institutionalized school meals prepared with fresh local ingredients in school kitchens...
Sanborn's nutritious and well-balanced Japanese school lunch experience, which differed from her school meals in the United States, inspired her ongoing independent documentary "Nourishing Japan," which is set for completion by autumn 2019.
"In Japan I think they value nutrition more, but beyond nutrition they look at food as something much more, as a tool to learn about other parts of society," said Sanborn in an interview with Kyodo News.
To honor the working hands that feed Japan's next generation, the film examines how school lunches are a key ingredient of the 2005 Basic Law on Food Education that instills the correlation between consumption and health in elementary and junior high school students.
Last June, Sanborn self-funded the filming for the documentary, interviewing farmers who labor over crop fields in Seto to deliver fresh produce to awaiting cooks in school kitchens in the greater Aichi Prefecture of central Japan.
"People in the field taught me a lot about everyday realities the farmers have to face," said Sanborn.
The film also focuses on the nationwide "shokuiku" dietary education program that promotes the intangible benefits children gain through the varying customs that go with food from different prefectures, and the health benefits of authentic Japanese meals.
During Sanborn's first round of filming last June in Tokyo, she interviewed nutritionists, including Yukio Hattori, the creator of the word "shokuiku," and a key facilitator to the Japanese government in the implementation of the food education law.