Well-being Social Design Inspired by Food

Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation
Representative Director
Yoshiki Ishikawa

In Japan, 2021 was the so-called the first year of well-being. Because, well-being was positioned as an important part of the government’s Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform and its growth strategies.

In this Basic Policy, it is clearly stated that “well-being KPIs should be established in the government’s various basic plans.” In response, well-being KPIs were established in a total of 32 basic plans put together by governmental organizations such as the Cabinet Secretariat, MEXT, MHLW, MAFF, MLIT, MOE, Cabinet Office, and CAA. These developments are expected to be accelerated further from fiscal 2022 onwards.

One of the many definitions of well-being is “a positive feeling or state among individuals or communities.” This is not a fixed definition, but rather a concept that can change dynamically across different generations and cultures.

Needless to say, as a such an ambiguous concept, there are diverse interpretations as to what constitutes well-being and what leads to well-being. As such, scholars have long since given up on efforts to define a fixed shape for well-being.

How are scholars tackling the topic? Rather than focusing on a shape, they are looking at the factors that lead to well-being. And so, leaving what constitutes well-being to the targets of their investigations, scholars have been researching what factors influence their targets’ ideas of well-being through various surveys for more than half a century.

These investigations have led to some interesting discoveries. That is, while the shape of well-being differs from person to person, there are many similarities in the factors that influence their well-being. One easy-to-relate to factor is income.For many people, a certain level of income is a key factor behind their well-being. The way that this income is used to achieve well-being, and what shape this well-being takes, varies by person.Another factor is social tolerance. This shows that, regardless of generation or culture, a society in which there is no categorization or discrimination is an important factor for many people’s well-being.

As a one of the researchers of well-being myself, I regularly examine what factors play an important role in people’s well-being. One factor I have discovered is the gender gap in cooking frequency. Specifically, when looking at society overall, the narrower the gender gap in cooking frequency, the higher the level of well-being. In almost all societies, women cook more frequently than men. In other words, societies in which men frequently cook boast higher levels of well-being.

Today, diversity and well-being are two keywords that are growing in importance. Moving forward, I believe that cooking can be a symbolic action for both diversity and well-being.

Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation Representative Director
Yoshiki Ishikawa