When tomatoes are forced to resist harsh environmental conditions, they fight back indomitably, deploying each and every ability they can mobilize in order to survive. They do whatever they can to defy their decreased odds to flourish. The Nagata farming method leverages the power and resilience vegetables have developed, spending tens of thousands of years, to thrive in the wild. If you remember, says Nagata, tomatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of South America. The climate could have been arid and often harsh, but if it was the environment that nurtured tomatoes, they should have the inherent abilities to adapt to it.
The results are incomparably dense and intense vegetables. Nagata tomatoes sink in the water whereas regular tomatoes float. They contain extremely high levels of nutrition and sugar (carbs). And if that’s not enough good news, they are excessively flavorful and rich in taste.
Upper: regular tomatoes. Lower: Nagata tomatoes.
Nagata tomatoes sink because they are dense and concentrated.
Water constitutes about 90 % of many vegetables, including tomatoes. If we give tomatoes too much water in order to facilitate the growing process, it could result in even more water in the fruit. We know that watery vegetables don’t taste great because the flavors are diluted and the texture is compromised.
Vegetables grown applying the Nagata method naturally contain less, because they are grown using less water. And the loss of water is compensated by the addition of other substances. Nagata vegetables contain increased amount of beneficial fibers, minerals and nutrients, which also create unique flavors and textures. And those substances are what the vegetables collected from the surroundings using their own abilities.
The tables show the high nutrient levels of Nagata vegetables.
Comparison of Vitamin C contained in Nagata vegetables and regular vegetables
Comparison of sugar (carbohydrate) contained in regular and Nagata vegetables
Data source: Terukichi Nagata (2002). Oishiisa no Sodatekata. Tokyo, Japan: Shogakukan
Just to be clear, the Nagata farming method is not organic. Whereas organic fertilizer is usually used to improve the soil, the Nagata method leaves the soil largely untreated. Instead of extensive amendments, it provides minimum amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium using liquid fertilizer.
Lessons learned from the Nagata vegetables: subtracting water and nutrients – the essential “pleasure” for plants – will activate various otherwise inactive capabilities inside them. Although it must be painstaking to adapt to a harsh environment and thrive, it releases completely new potential.
It is far bigger than a simple trade-off between improved health quality and forgone pleasure, as we discussed at the beginning of this article. By losing access to so much pleasure, the vegetables remembered how to mobilize their own capacity. Their bodies became much more focused and aroused. They became truly resilient.