Why do the Japanese always peel their fruit? 2nd attempt

My in-laws are convinced that it comes from the 70s, when Japanese chemical warfare on farm bugs (along with pouring pure chemicals into rivers etc) made the common complaints about Chinese imports today seem the nationalistic nonsense that it mainly is. My own theory, though, is that it goes all the way back to Edo times, where the lack of animals (most people never ate meat, milk products were unknown, most people were forbidden to ride horses) meant that the manure was almost always “night soil” (human excrement), with the consequent greater risk of the spread of diseases.



  1. May 31, 2010 at 12:45 pm

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  2. john said,

    October 15, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    well using night soil as fertilizer shouldn’t really affect fruit in trees, only things that come into direct contact with the soil. i.e. vegtables. so you found a reason to peel daikon but not nashi. i hear they still have problems with agro chemicals. i usually eat the skin my inlaws peel off but i might just be poisoning myself.

  3. alexcase said,

    October 16, 2010 at 1:11 am

    That’s a really good point about fruit actually being far away from the night soil on their branches. Damn, was quite proud of that theory…

    The book I’m reading at the moment (Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori) has a story of someone who wouldn’t eat unpeeled fruit because they knew someone who had died from dysentry in the post war years after doing so, but no idea if there is anything generalisable there.

    There are also two more general cultural factors that could have an impact:
    – In Japan, the hardest way of doing something is often by definition the most best
    – The Japanese don’t have the love of agricultural things in their natural state, seen also in the total avoidance of brown rice, that countries that are far more removed from real agricultural life seem to develop. Will probably happen in Japan fairly soon though

    You have to wonder- with traditionally no salads, white rice, white bread, and always peeling stuff, where do the Japanese get their fibre from??

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