Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Shimota Farm Fandom Unite! Hear The Secret Behind Its Success
Today, we'll visit Aoyama Farmer's Market, for an in-depth inquiry on the tasty vegetables of Shimota Farm's. They've won the hearts (and stomachs) of their customers with delicious and healthy vegetables, the product of their careful cultivation.
Written by IshizawaYoshinori
Let us tell you about one remarkable sign, a banner that drew our attention almost instantly while visiting Aoyama Farmer’s Market. We saw the words “the vegetables with evidence” on it, and after looking more closely into it, we realized that was Shimota Farm’s stand, a shop from Toride City in Ibaraki prefecture. So we decided to grab this unique chance to inquire to a professional farmer about what makes the vegetables truly tasty.
The Vegetables With Evidence?
We can see the title “the vegetables with evidence” written on the banner, but what exactly does that mean?
First, let me ask you a question – we often hear the term “fresh vegetables”. But, where is the evidence behind that statement?
As a matter of fact, you can calculate the level of freshness in vegetables by analyzing it, and therefore you can get yourself de facto evidence for that statement. Tasty, healthy, fresh. It is something we hear on daily basis, but how true that is, and what is really going on, we cannot know for sure. Even though I’m selling vegetables on the market, I cannot bring myself to recommend them to my customers when I am unable to know for sure if what I’m telling is the truth.
That is why we built a lab at our farm, twenty years ago. We get our vegetables and the soil used when growing them inspected in those laboratories. We don’t ship the vegetables that failed to meet the standards we have decided upon – only the vegetables that have met our expectations, make it to the consumers.
What Are the Nutrient-Rich Vegetables?
According to those standards you have set, what kind of vegetables are considered to be rich in nutrients? Can you give me an example?
Ah, yes. Please, take a look at this picture. What we regard as most attention-worthy is the “level of Chlorine Nitrate” and the “high anti-oxidation efficacy”.
Taken from: http://shimotafarm.com/ (Japanese)
You can see for yourself this discrepancy our examinations have shown. It makes all the difference if you can provide with this kind of statistics – that is why we can claim we have “the vegetables with evidence”.
It is also frequently said that vegetables aren’t what they used to be, that they were much tastier before, and had higher nutritional value. To what extent is that true?
The reason for that is in the soil – it’s spoiled. By examining it, you can even find out whether the soil is fit for growing vegetables or not. The quality of the soil is essential, and another important component is the compost. Only after you’ve analyzed the soil, can you determine how much compost you’ll need for your farming. You have to get the right amount of compost for that particular soil – not too much, nor too little, otherwise you won’t be able to produce “the ideal base for growing delicious vegetables”.
I think that is the main reason why customers feel the vegetables from Shimota Farm have “more clear-cut, powerful taste” to them when they try it. Even the smell is quite distinctive, you can savor both the smell and the taste of the vegetable.
Do you have any particular vegetable to recommend us?
Well, there isn’t really anything that stands out, but I personally like to advise my customers to try these Chinese chives (nira in Japanese). Actually, you can eat these raw, you don’t have to cook them.
Did you say “raw”?
Well, if you like its taste in general, yes…. Chop it and serve it with freshly cooked, still hot rice, some katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), and soy sauce. That is the easiest Chinese chives-rice meal you can get. It can also serve as a fantastic spice (topping) for natto (fermented soybeans), and such.
When someone mentions Chinese chives, cooking them usually comes to mind first, I must say… But, I suppose it can be enjoyed raw, too.
It sure does! As a matter of fact, they taste the best when you eat them raw.
So, since we received some precious sage advice, we decided to give this Chinese chives-rice a go! To make the best use of this valuable piece of knowledge (and to put all these vegetables we bought at Shimota Farm to good use), we tried our best to prepare some tasty home-made food. And for the menu is – the intriguing Chinese chives-rice. We left our turnip (kabu in Japanese) intact (in other words, raw), as well. And, since they were selling some nice, big Chinese parsley (pakuchi in Japanese), for the main dish we decided on the steamed chicken with Chinese parsley sauce.
As we proceeded with the cutting, we could tell for sure that these Chinese chives have that onion-like piercing smell, but it isn’t at all unpleasant. The moment we took one small bite, just out of curiosity, we were surprised yet again – it tastes so sweet! Well, that sure leaves a lot of room for unusual expectations!
We put a great amount of katsuobushi in our chopped Chinese chives, and sprinkled it all with a dash of soy sauce. Finally, we mixed in some hot and steamy, just-cooked rice. Oh, the rich and savory aroma of Chinese chives and katsuobushi, intensified with the hotness of the rice! We couldn’t stop ourselves from stealing a bit while still stirring – this is super delicious! We even let out a cry of joy.
You might have imagined some strong and unbearable grassy smell of raw, fresh Chinese chives, but we can tell you this – it wasn't unpleasant in the slightest. Just the contrary – it gives off a refreshing and enticing aroma, which, combined with the savory dried bonito flakes, makes a perfect combination for a chewy and unique delicacy.
We’ve even fed it to our family, and you can take a guess what kind of a reaction it was – yes, you guessed it right! They were overwhelmed with the richness of flavor that “exceeded their expectations”, and were in pure disbelief over the fact that “you can actually enjoy Chinese chives raw, too”.
Shimota Farm, Where You Come Back for More!
No doubt about it – we will definitely go back to Shimota Farm’s store to buy some more of their tasty vegetables. You really get addicted to that powerful flavor and pungent aroma! You can savor the seasonal vegetables, but they don’t stop there – it is all expressed in numerical form, to reassure you that the food you’re about to enjoy doesn’t have any harmful ingredients or effects. It is both delicious and safe – a most satisfactory combination!
What’s more, you won’t be able to find these vegetables just anywhere, as they aren't distributed to the usual supermarkets. Only a handful of restaurants and hotels that hold the farmers’ devotion and the quality of food in high regard, can get a hold of these special vegetables. And as for us, the common people – well, we just have to set out to Aoyama Farmer’s Market if we want to treat ourselves to some first-class vegetables.
Oh, and one more thing – the prices are approximately the same as the ones at the supermarket! We just can’t seem to find a valid reason not to shop at this store. So, why don’t you take our (sage) advice and let yourself enjoy some delicious vegetables of Shimota Farm’s?
Aoyama Farmer’s Market
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 5-53-70
Hours: from 10:00 until 16:00
Open: every Saturday and Sunday
Credit Cards: None
Other Languages: only Japanese
Pamphlets/Menus in Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: Omotesando Station of Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line
Access: walk straight for 3 minutes from the B2 exit of Omotesando Station
Price: about 150 yen (for one bag)
Phone Number: 03-5459-4934 (Farmer’s Market Office)
Website: http://farmersmarkets.jp/ (Japanese)
Shimota Farm Website: http://shimotafarm.com/ (Japanese)