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Heinz Beans to the rescue in Japan

A group of eager foreign volunteers arrived in quake-hit north-east Japan Sunday with two vans full of provisions. Along with nappies and pineapple juice, the main bulk of the shipment consisted of… eight tonnes of Heinz baked beans.


The group in question, ‘Foreign Volunteers Japan’, was launched in the wake of Japan’s recent earthquake and devastating tsunami. The Tokyo-based volunteers collect essentials in the capital, load the stuff into vans, and head north on a two-day road trip to the region’s most needy.


More photos on Flickr.


I couldn’t help feeling endeared by the massive shipment of beans, but also rather puzzled. Do the Japanese usually eat Heinz baked beans? (For those of you unfortunate enough not to know, they’re tinned white beans in a sugary tomato sauce – a British staple, especially among students).


I scouted around online, and found that you can indeed buy Heinz beans from an online shop in Japan, bizarrely named ‘The Meat Guy’. But at 480 yen a tin (that’s about €4, or eight times the normal price), they’re probably only ever sold to homesick Brits.


Good for your heart


It might look as though the foreign volunteers are on a baked bean crusade, but after a look at their website, I found a rather more innocent explanation for the unusual delivery:


“The initial donation that got this project started was an eight ton donation of baked beans. Many of the emergency shelters up north are serving soup, but are lacking vegetables and other nutrient-rich ingredients that could add sustenance to the meals. Which is why even several tons of beans are likely to make a difference in this afflicted area.” 


So it wasn’t them who chose the beans, but the beans that chose them. In any case, I’m glad to see baked beans being used for such a needy cause.


The group is open to other essentials too. You can find a list, along with the address to send/ drop stuff off at, on their website.


Gravy, anyone?

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