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Old 22-05-2006, 05:41 AM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

Japan faces chopsticks crisis

Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Monday May 15, 2006
The Guardian


Millions of Japanese diners could soon be deprived of their favourite
wooden chopsticks following China's decision to impose a 5% tax on the
utensils because of concerns over deforestation.
The move is already beginning to affect restaurants and caterers in
Japan, which gets through 25bn pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks a
year - or 200 pairs a person - 97% of which come from China.

Chinese chopstick exporters responded to the tax increase by raising
prices by around 30%, with another 20% increase to follow. The price of
chopsticks has already risen from one yen a pair to more than one and a
half yen, with producers also blaming rising transportation and raw
material costs.


Article continues

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"We're not in an emergency situation yet, but there has been some
impact," Ichiro ***uoka, director of the Japan Chopsticks Import
Association, told the Associated Press.
After years of relying on the ubiquitous "waribashi" chopsticks, which
diners pull apart before they eat and throw away afterwards, Japan's
restaurants are changing their wasteful ways amid reports that China
will stop exporting wooden chopsticks altogether in 2008.

In February a restaurant chain in Osaka replaced wooden chopsticks with
plastic ones at all of its 760 outlets and offers small discounts to
customers who bring their own.

Other restaurants are turning to chopsticks made from bamboo and some
convenience stores give them out only on request.

Until 20 years ago about half of all disposable chopsticks used in
Japan were made domestically but were gradually edged out by cheap
imports from China, which produces 45bn pairs a year - the equivalent
of about 25m trees.





Special report
Japan


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Old 22-05-2006, 05:43 AM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

Waribashi

Did you know, Japan is the number one consumer of rainforest wood,
importing half of all that is sold in the world? It imports nearly five
times the value of timber of South Korea, the number two user. China,
Taiwan, and Italy are the next on the list. Nearly all of the trees in
the Phillipines, Thailand, Indonesia, and other South East Asian
countries are gone. The rainforests are disappearing at 20,000,000
hectares every year - an area about the size of Great Britain.

Much of the wood Japan buys is used in construction. (The government
has an unusually large budget for construction, with 16% of the
work-force employed there.) Imported logs are made into plywood, which
is then used for molds while pouring concrete. Often, after being used
once or twice, they are incinerated.

Waribashi (disposable wooden chopsticks) waste the second greatest
amount of wood. The use of waribashi began in the 1870's. At that time
they were made from scraps left by woodworkers. But now, about 410,000
cubic meters of timber are cut every year just to make waribashi. Japan
consumes 130,000,000 waribashi everyday, 11,000,000,000 pairs a year.

Because Japan's technology is so advanced, and because it's traditional
lifestyle was not a wasteful one, surely this problem can be improved.
A substitute should be available to make concrete forms, waribashi,
paper and cardboard, rather than using irreplaceable rainforest trees.
How can we help?

Perhaps, most importantly, be aware of such issues, and share your
knowledge with other people. In times where governments are failing to
find a solution, it's the responsibility of the people to make change
happen.

And, an easy way to make a big difference is to refuse waribashi when
they are offered to you in stores and restaurants. Carry your own
chopsticks with you!


http://www.geocities.com/green_in_ja...waribashi.html

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Old 22-05-2006, 05:48 AM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

" Carry your own
chopsticks with you!"



I do.

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Old 22-05-2006, 08:36 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis


wrote in message
ups.com...
" Carry your own
chopsticks with you!"



I do.


Although I am not knowledgeable enough about the timber industry to fully
appreciate what
410,000 cubic meters annual consumption means comparatively, I agree that
the global consumption of timber as well
as all natural resources is probably too high. In the sense that it may
negatively affect our environment.
And perhaps we shouldn't be using disposable choptsticks.
On the other hand, perhaps we shouldn't be holding olympics either.

http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0501-papua.html

M





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Old 22-05-2006, 10:13 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

it is NOT about the $$ ken.... it is about the trees.... was that not the
obvious issue?!


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Old 22-05-2006, 10:36 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

Bimmerfan wrote:

it is NOT about the $$ ken.... it is about the trees.... was that not
the obvious issue?!



No, not at all. The message I replied to talked about the price increases in
disposable wooden chopsticks. Those prices increases may be substantial,
percentage-wise, but are nearly meaningless in actual money.

The deforestation issues, on the other hand, are real, and should be of
significant concern to everyone, Japanese or not.

--
Ken Blake
Please reply to the newsgroup


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Old 23-05-2006, 05:45 AM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

Also, I find my own chopsticks - nice plastic ones, and (Korean) steel
- much more aesthetically pleasing than the rough splintery
disposables, plus I'm used to them. Plus the origin of the disposables
is dubious at best, many being made by slave labor in the Chinese
gulags under very unsanitary conditions, despite the fact that they are
sold in China as "sanitary chopsticks".

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Old 23-05-2006, 04:36 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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I agree with the sentiment in the article above:

"... In times where governments are failing to
find a solution, it's the responsibility of the people to make change
happen.


And, an easy way to make a big difference is to refuse waribashi when
they are offered to you in stores and restaurants. Carry your own
chopsticks with you!"




ww



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Old 23-05-2006, 07:45 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis


Ken Blake wrote:
might be. It feels very insulting to me: "Your chopsticks aren't good enough
for me. I'll use my own."

Would you bring your own more esthetically pleasing knife and fork to a
Western restaurant?


I've brought my own knife to a restaurant where several times before
I'd had to ask for a sharper steak knife (it was a nice place but they
used those cheap wide-blade serrated chop-house knives, and in that
town people had a habit of grinding their knife into the plate when
cutting anything). And yes, I *meant* it as an insult, and was happy
that they got the point, even though I doubt it changed anything but
their sense of remorse.

Personally, I think the wood chopsticks are the easiest to use. The
texture makes them easy to handle and they hold the food with less
pressure. Plastic and metal take more balance and allow fewer means of
grasping; they make eating wet noodles almost impossible. Bamboo is
okay for grip, but tends to splinter a lot more than wood does. You
can spend a whole evening peeling splinters from a bamboo stick and end
up with no stick left at all. And I hate sticks that don't taper
evenly from end to end. If I can't pick up a single flying-fish egg
without switching my grip, they're junk.

Meta: you suppose they've been having this argument in China for about
5,000 years?

Well, let's modernize it:

Maybe there's some new material or molding process that can give the
performance characteristics of wood (including possibly disposability)
without costing 170 million board-feet of old-growth forest a year
(about 20,000 houses worth, or about 1.5 million trees). On the other
hand, 410,000 m^3 is only about 1/8500th of the world's annual wood
production of 3.4 billion m^3, more than half of which is still
consumed as fuel. About 80% of Asia's wood is used for fuel.

So I'm not sure if ending the chopstick trade is going to be all that
big a help. Getting them a nuclear reactor or two and a wave of rural
electrification projects would probably free up enough trees to
overwhelm the chopstick issue by a hundred-fold.

--Blair

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Old 23-05-2006, 11:40 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

-- Anyway, re Ken's comments before - I've never gotten any negative
reaction from using my own chopsticks in Asian restaurants.


You're kidding? EVERY TIME I get these funny looks when I bring mine
into the "Madras" to have a curry. Or did you mean Oriental Restaurant?

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Old 24-05-2006, 03:33 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis


wrote in message
ups.com...
"Personally, I think the wood chopsticks are the easiest to use. The
texture makes them easy to handle and they hold the food with less
pressure. "

-- Yes, that's true. The article above even mentions it.

"Plastic and metal take more balance and allow fewer means of
grasping; they make eating wet noodles almost impossible. "

-- Nope - just takes practice. Most Viet. restaurants use plastic
(long Chinese) chopsticks and 99% of the people there are eating wet
noodles - pho. Helpful hint: stick yer face closer to the bowl!



-- Anyway, re Ken's comments before - I've never gotten any negative
reaction from using my own chopsticks in Asian restaurants. Today I
was in a good Chinese buffet and the waitresses were talking to me
about my use of Korean steel chopsticks.
One of them was from Japan, the other from Taiwan. So I asked them if
it was considered rude for me to bring my own chopsticks. They told me
that it wasn't, just very unusual, since nobody does it in Japan or
Taiwan.



Rather than debating the issue of whether to bring your own chopsticks to a
restaurant or not, perhaps we should simply remember the fact that in Japan
eating sushi with your hands is perfectly traditional and acceptable.
So much for the disposable chopsticks....unless you order an appetizer.

Musashi



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Old 24-05-2006, 06:13 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis

On Wed, 24 May 2006 14:33:38 GMT, "Musashi"
mumbled something like:


wrote in message
oups.com...
"Personally, I think the wood chopsticks are the easiest to use. The
texture makes them easy to handle and they hold the food with less
pressure. "

-- Yes, that's true. The article above even mentions it.

"Plastic and metal take more balance and allow fewer means of
grasping; they make eating wet noodles almost impossible. "

-- Nope - just takes practice. Most Viet. restaurants use plastic
(long Chinese) chopsticks and 99% of the people there are eating wet
noodles - pho. Helpful hint: stick yer face closer to the bowl!



-- Anyway, re Ken's comments before - I've never gotten any negative
reaction from using my own chopsticks in Asian restaurants. Today I
was in a good Chinese buffet and the waitresses were talking to me
about my use of Korean steel chopsticks.
One of them was from Japan, the other from Taiwan. So I asked them if
it was considered rude for me to bring my own chopsticks. They told me
that it wasn't, just very unusual, since nobody does it in Japan or
Taiwan.



Rather than debating the issue of whether to bring your own chopsticks to a
restaurant or not, perhaps we should simply remember the fact that in Japan
eating sushi with your hands is perfectly traditional and acceptable.
So much for the disposable chopsticks....unless you order an appetizer.

Musashi



or sashimi.

and speaking of, anyone check out that etiquette blog thing that was
posted a few days ago? It was interesting but it that all true? I
guess I'm just a crude 'westerner' but it made me wonder.

Big.
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Old 24-05-2006, 10:38 PM posted to alt.food.sushi
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Default Japan faces chopsticks crisis


You're kidding? EVERY TIME I get these funny looks when I bring mine
into the "Madras" to have a curry. Or did you mean Oriental Restaurant?




Ah, you're probably just self-conscious. I never got funny looks in
Indian restaurants - well, no funnier than I ordinarily get anyway! -
because of my chopsticks. In Indian restaurants they usually just
don't seem to pay any attention to what I'm eating with.

Oriental people are generally much more conformist than I am. There
would need to be some kind of official conservation movement started
before they would start bringing their own chopsticks en masse.

I'm not sure, but I think that South Korea has banned the use of
disposable chopsticks in restaurants.



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