Japanese food culture is unique and can go a long way towards improving global nutrition, whose usual diet includes many vegetables, fruits and fish.
To better explain it, there are a number of Japanese techniques, knowledge and traditions related to the preparation and consumption of food, which was designated as Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Washoku is based on respect for nature and is made up of fresh, seasonal and low-fat ingredients, which together represent a well-balanced diet.
Tempura, sashimi, pickles, rice, and miso soup. Credit: Copenhagen cyclonebill, Denmark.
Japan has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with other countries, an interaction that it is keen to promote as an activity related to the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.
The decade aims to reverse poor eating habits, which are closely linked to noncommunicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, cancers and diabetes, which are the leading causes of premature death, not only in high-income countries. but also in many parts of the developing South.
"These diets are often not only unhealthy, but environmentally unsustainable"
In this context, Japan exemplifies the effectiveness of public policies and legislation to promote adequate nutrition, especially with laws aimed at educating girls and boys and controlling the weight of adults, according to the FAO director.
These measures are in line with the commitments made by governments around the world at the Second International Conference on Nutrition in 2014 and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to set national policies aimed at eradicating malnutrition and transforming food systems so that nutritious diets are available to everyone.
Japan was commended for supporting developing countries through FAO in the areas of food production and consumption, as well as in agricultural sectors such as forestry, fisheries, livestock, land and water.
For example, in Afghanistan, Japan contributed more than $ 100 million to the organization's agricultural interventions, especially to rehabilitate the country's irrigation infrastructure.
In Burma, Japanese government funds helped provide emergency aid for the regeneration of livelihoods - including high-quality seeds and fertilizers - to rural households affected by floods and armed conflict.
A journalist and a cook, goodwill ambassadors
The FAO director announced the appointment of Hiroko Kuniya and Katsuhiro Nakamura as the first goodwill ambassadors of the specialized agency for Japan.
Kuniya became known as a television presenter for the NHK network, covering news about poverty, hunger and other social issues. More recently he has covered topics related to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Nakamura rose to fame in 1979 when the Michelin food guide awarded his restaurant in Paris a star, making him the first Japanese chef to receive such recognition. He later returned to Japan and in 2008 was appointed head chef during the Group of Eight summit in the town of Toyako.
What about the history of the eggplant as a toothbrush?
Now that we know who eat better than anyone else on our planet - the Japanese - it's time to reveal why and how you can use eggplants as a toothbrush.
African aubergine is one of the edible plants grown by women farmers displaced by the violence of the radical armed group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, and who are involved in an FAO project to kick-start local food production. The local name of this food is "gorongo" and it is not only an important nutritional element, but also a social one.
Women often chew the raw gorong fruit to clean their teeth. It is also eaten as part of marriage and naming ceremonies.
In a dry season vegetable production establishment supported by FAO, a group of women work together in a field of gorongos cultivation, among other plantations. The surviving women farmers of the Boko Haram attacks on their villages are the sole providers for their families.
One of them explained that the eggplant as an instrument to clean your teeth is a way to regain a healthy smile and, with it, a sense of dignity.
Eggplant is a useful plant for small farmers because it produces fruit continuously and can have a large yield, even from a small plot.
Thus, women harvest surplus crops that they can sell to earn money and cover their needs beyond food, such as health care and the education of their children.
African aubergine is indigenous to central Africa but has spread to other areas, particularly West Africa, FAO reports.
It can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, pickled, or in stews and its leaves are often used in soups. To make a stew, the eggplant is boiled, then crushed, placed in a saucepan with oil, onion, cooked beans, and chili peppers.
Apart from oral hygiene, the plant is used in traditional medicine to treat throat infections, by heating the leaves, which are then chewed. The juice from its boiled roots is used to treat hookworm, while the crushed leaves are useful for gastric ailments.
Now you know who eats better than anyone else and what to do if you run out of toothpaste.
Translated by Álvaro Queiruga