Today we took a field trip to a farm to see the rice growing process up close.
We watched the water buffalo pull a plow through the mud, and saw rice growing at various stages. The most interesting part was the rice threshing process, where first the dried stalks are put in a giant basket and beaten to separate the grain from the shaft.
Next, the rice is scooped out with the giant spoon and spread out on a tarp on the ground. Then fans are used to blow away all the extra straw, leaving behind only the rice grains.
The final step is to grind away the outside husk, leaving behind only the edible grains. Every step is manual and time consuming. A lot of work from a lot of people’s hands goes into each grain of rice in your dinner bowl.
I always feel a little strange about this kind of ecotourism. It’s an educational experience where you literally get your hands dirty and learn about the farming process, but it takes the backbreaking labor of rice farming performed year in and year out by our hosts, and reduces it to something we experience for our own amusement, something we wash off at the end of the day and never give a second thought. It was kind of like an elementary school field trip to the supermarket — just a tiny glimpse into the complex process that brings food to our tables around the world.