Fast-food chain to start growing produce near Fukushima’s contaminated zone

The company is partnering with farmers just 60 miles away from the crippled reactors

Topics: Fukushima, Food safety, Fast food, Japan, Nuclear Reactor, ,

A Japanese fast-food chain is partnering with local farmers to grow produce for distribution throughout the country. The trouble is, those farmers are local to Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Over 160,000 residents were evacuated from the area surrounding Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant when three of its nuclear reactors experienced core meltdown, releasing unknown amounts of radiation into the land, sea and air. The government made the 20 kilometers immediately surrounding the plant a mandatory evacuation zone, up to 30 miles radius was considered voluntary, and additional areas were cleared depending on wind direction. Many people have yet to return.



The fast-food company Yoshinoya Holdings is setting up plots for onion, cabbage and rice 100 kilometers — or 60 miles — southwest from the reactors. The area, according to Reuters, was once well-known for the produce grown there. Since the disaster, though, and despite assurances from the Japanese government that food from the area is safe, demand has predictably dropped.

In a statement, Yoshinoya expressed its desire to help rebuild the area, and promised to ensure that the food is safe to eat. But considering that the plant continues to be plagued by mishaps, including the tons of contaminated water it’s currently leaking into the ocean, it might be a tough sell.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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