A special event promoting homemade hamburgers using ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture recently took place in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.
Roughly 30 people turned up on the occasion, where they sampled hamburgers containing fresh meat and vegetables produced in Fukushima Prefecture that were brought to the venue by young food-growing volunteers.
The event was organized by groups such as "Eat, and Energize the East," which strives to put Tohoku-grown food back on the map, and which was formed in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
Yoshitaka Ono, 34, head of an agricultural support group called "Cool Agri" based in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, and 31-year-old Masamichi Egawa, who both reside in the prefecture, actively promoted locally grown ingredients at the event.
Ono runs an organic fruit farm, while Egawa focuses on growing potatoes and asparagus, in addition to trying to popularize a rare type of saffron that had traditionally been grown in Fukushima Prefecture.
At the hamburger event on March 18, held in Tokyo's trendy Ebisu district, Ono provided a sauce processed from various fruits from his farm, and Egawa supplied saffron-rice buns made from his saffron.
Adding the sauce and the buns to the meat and the tomatoes makes the hamburger "Instagrammable." A number of impressed participants took photos of the completed burgers with their smartphones before eating them.
In addition, Ono told the crowd about his barbeque area and beer garden situated in the middle of his apple fields, which is designed to bring producers and consumers together.
"The vegetables (in Fukushima Prefecture) retain key nutrients and develop a brilliant, slightly sweet taste. Being able to eat these products, which are not available in Tokyo, is our special privilege," Egawa said, as he spoke about the Tohoku region's method of growing vegetables such as Chinese cabbage in snowy conditions.
Erika Morikawa, a 23-year-old dietician who attended the event, said, "There's a tendency to dismiss the aftermath of 3.11 as a problem that doesn't concern you. However, after hearing the stories of people who are trying hard in Fukushima Prefecture, I've come to realize that I really want to cooperate for the area's reconstruction."