July 23, 12 | Gakkun
When mentioning the word flax, the Japanese have a greater image of blond hair, as in "flax colored hair", than the oil generating crop. Unknown to most however the flax plant actually flowers a beautiful pale lilac color flower.
Flax crops are returning to Hokkaido and these pale flowers match well with the deep green of the natural world and the gentle blue of the sky.
Flax flowers peak during July and the fields of purple flowers present a beautiful picture.
Although Hokkaido is perhaps the most suitable location in Japan for flax cultivation, flax flowers are now rarely seen. After the Meiji restoration and the increase in prosperity of Japan flax cultivation declined. Add to this the rebuilding and industrialization after World War II and flax production ceased approximately 40 years ago.
In a collaborative effort between the Chamber of Commerce and Hokkaido Agriculture Association a project entitled "Renaissance Project : Hokkaido Flax" has been initiated to revive its production. Flax can be produced pesticide free and can be sold as a dietary supplement or as pure oil for many other uses.
Linseed oil which is high in (α-Linolenic acid) Omega-3 fatty acid is known as a health food and gives the body the high quality fatty acids that are sometimes missing in modern diets.
The oil has a "nutty" kind of flavor. There are also unique flavors such as walnut. Also the oil has no strange aftertaste. While not generally thought to be suitable for high heat cooking (due to rapid oxidization) it is a very good condiment oil, similar to olive oil and is great for salads and stir-fry sauces.
■ Linseed oil Carpaccio with octopus and okra
■ Linseed oil dressing made in Hokkaido (Japanese style, onion flavored)
This project to help encourage the cultivation of flax is now taking off around Hokkaido.
Public support for the project is greatly appreciated and there are several things people interested in helping can do to participate; One is buy and use flax products such as linseed oil. Also those willing to travel to Tobetsu town might be interested to know that they are holding a "Flax Photo Contest". Why not take a few pictures and enter?
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - GAKKUN)
※ Pictures were kindly provided.
Flax Village Information
Flax Village Diary (blog)