Japan Agricultural Newspaper’s Vegetable General Election: Tomato ranks first

TOKYO, Aug. 30 – August 31 is Vegetable Day in Japan because the numbers 8, 3, and 1 can be read as “ya-sa-i,” which means vegetable in Japanese. Ahead of the day, the Japan Agricultural Newspaper conducted a reader survey, “Vegetable General Election,” to ask, “What is your favorite vegetable?” Tomatoes ranked top with 35 points, while eggplants finished close 2nd and cucumbers 3rd. Summer vegetable in season took most of the top slots.

The survey was announced in the papers and through messages to friends of Japan Agricultural Newspaper’s one of the official Line accounts. Then, it was conducted via the Internet on August 14 through 23. It also asked reasons for liking that vegetable the most and favorite recipes and received 226 responses.

Many tomato fans said they like tomatoes because they are sweet, nutritious, and good to eat, both raw and cooked. Their favorite dishes are pizza, pasta, and meat or fish stewed with tomato.

“I simply like the great feeling of taking a large bite,” a female agricultural corporation worker in her 20s from Aichi Prefecture wrote, recalling her memories from junior high school days. On the way home from school after her track and field practice, she used to visit her grandparents and eat freshly picked tomatoes grown in their greenhouse. “I was very hungry, so I just bit into it!” Having such memories, she still likes old-style not-too-sweet tomatoes.

Eggplant lovers voted as they are good when fried, simmered, and grilled, and go well with oil in many kinds of dishes. “I eat them roasted in summer, in hot pots in winter, and as pickles all year round. I can keep eating rice forever if I have mapo eggplant (fried eggplant with Chinese chili sauce) in the menu,” wrote a male rice grower in his 60s from Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture. “I want my last meal to be my mother’s fried eggplant seasoned with miso,” a male corporate worker in his 60s from Niigata Prefecture wrote.

The third spot winner, cucumbers, bring coolness in summer. A female office worker in her 20s from Tokyo said, “There are many native varieties, such as Haccho Cucumbers from Nagano Prefecture and Ojiroi Cucumbers from Fukushima Prefecture.” “It’s fun to buy them at farmer’s markets and taste and compare them,” she emphasized. She always has one cucumber in her bag to stay hydrated with it.

Cabbage ranked 4th as “they are good in Japanese, Western, and Chinese dishes (a male rice grower in his 70s from Wakayama Prefecture). Onions came 5th as “we can keep them for a long time and use them in all kinds of dishes (a female corporate worker in her 40s from Tokyo).” The two were chosen for their flexibility.

The 7th and 9th spots were taken by corn and nigauri bitter gourds, both summer vegetables. Meanwhile, winter vegetables struggled, as Chinese cabbage ranked 12th and spinach 25th. The survey results can be different depending on the season.

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