Longitudinal analysis of home food production and food sharing behavior in Japan: multiple benefits of local food systems and the recent impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic

In Sustainability Science
Peer-reviewed Article
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Home food production and sharing (home consumption) make up a local community-based food system that has become a custom closely tied to people’s daily life and culture across Japan. In this study, nationwide questionnaire surveys were conducted in 2015 and 2021 to investigate the status and trends of non-commercial home food consumption in Japan. We were also able to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which commenced at the beginning of 2020 in Japan. It was found that a wide variety of foods and many different species of food are part of home consumption. In addition, the amount of home production and the amount shared with close neighbors and friends via social networks is higher in agricultural areas than in urban areas. The amount of home production was slightly higher and the amount shared with others slightly lower in 2021 compared with 2015, suggesting that COVID-19 may have limited the sharing activities that also connect people. Meanwhile, the majority of respondents who were directly asked about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the survey in 2021 answered “no change”, suggesting a resilient system even under the pressures of the pandemic. Moreover, there has been an uptake in home food production and sharing amongst younger generations, men, and people living in urban areas. These customs and lifestyles are embedded in Japanese culture, helping to produce a sustainable and resilient food system. This home consumption system has the potential to contribute to various global challenges in the form of nature-based solutions which help meet the targets of the sustainable development goals, in particular a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the promotion of health, well-being and social relations. We discuss future research challenges for a more resource-efficient, inclusive, and sustainable growth model that includes home consumption.