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Japanese Entrepreneurs Push The ‘Power Of Natto’

Natto… It’s a Japanese ‘delicacy’. It’s cherished by its fans. But detested by the global majority. Because it looks, tastes and smells… Well… Some say ‘disgusting’. Natto is simply an acquired taste. Like Black Olives. Or Durian fruit

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Yes, there is an industry organization called The Japan Natto Cooperative Society Federation (JNCSF). And its website is both a treasure trove of information on ‘Natto’, and a promotional powerhouse.


What the heck is ‘Natto’?

It’s a uniquely Japanese food consisting of fermented whole soybeans that have been fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto. It is often served as a breakfast food with rice. It is served with karashi mustard, soy or tare sauce, and sometimes Japanese bunching onion,” Wikipedia tells us. But the real story is…

“Nattō is often considered an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and sticky, slimy texture. A 2009 survey revealed that 70 percent of Japanese people find the taste pleasant, and others who may not find the taste of the food pleasant still eat it out of habit.”

Soy beans (see photo, top of page) may look harmless enough before the fermentation process… But to the Western eye, Natto will seem, at first glace, to be closely related to mucous. Or Ghostbuster ‘slime’. With soy beans.

What is it so beloved?

So… It’s no surprise that Natto is little known outside Japan. But the Japanese have, in fact, enshrined it as a unofficial national culinary treasure.

And the Official ‘Natto Power’ English website is a revelation for the uninitiated. The headline says it all: “Japanese Fermented Food Natto – The Key to Better Living”

An old favourite

“Literature shows that natto has been made for more than 1,000 years, but the prototype was made even before that. It seems that aristocrats and shoguns also ate it. It later spread to the general public and became an everyday food during the Edo period.”

Why is it so good for you?

The website cites the work of several Japanese scientists who’ve studied the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Natto. It’s also suggested that consuming Natto regularly can help you live longer and healthier.

Other health and well bring benefits mentioned in the site’s ‘statistics’ section claim Natto can enhance immune function, improve digestion, ‘prevent thrombosis’ and make you more beautiful.

My take

One look at a bowl of Natto turned me off. Hard gag. No amount of ‘acquisition’ will be able to convince me to embrace this ‘taste’. Mainly because I’ll never try it in the first place.

Yes, fermented foods can be powerhouses of health and nutritional benefits. But I’d much prefer to get mine as cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, wine and beer…

~ Maggie J.