Monday, October 03, 2005


DIAMOND SEED


Early this morning Echo and I went down to the village rice polisher to polish 30kg of organic rice from Moriyama to send to Kasumi (Kaya and M&M go through rice like sumo wrestlers). When we got there a rice farmer was just opening the shed and was about to polish some of his own rice, but graciously allowed us to go first. As we were chatting, another farmer came to polish his rice, then another. Even at that hour the rice polisher was action central, all the rice having just been harvested.

At any rate, we finally got started, pouring the rice into the hopper, setting the polisher for pretty fairly darkly brown rice, making sure to catch the bran for use on the garden. As we and the farmers then stood there tweaking the polisher and waiting, Echo happened to mention that we were polishing completely organic rice from Moriyama, which was sort of like bringing out a handful of Hope diamonds at a gem convention.

All the farmers, multi-generation rice experts to a man, clustered up to the machine to eye the rice, grab a handful of grains from the hopper and take it out into the sun, where, under the farmer’s light they shifted and turned the grains in their brown farmerhands, eying the kernels as if they were holding handfuls of diamondseed, talking to and among themselves, looking for something, then saying to us that if this is organic, where are the signs of insects? There are always signs of insects with organic rice, but there are no signs of insects in this rice, are you sure it's organic? They showed us handfuls of their own rice, as if we too were experts.

We assured them that the grower had a special technique involving some natural material he had developed that bugs didn’t like, and avowed it to be 100% organic; the farmers collectively agreed that it must be true then, since no rice farmer would ever lie about his rice, a rice farmer would have too much integrity to do such a thing, it’s unthinkable, how much do you pay for it and when Echo told them they all fainted slightly, the price being about double what they get for their non-organic rice, and I’m sure it got them thinking further along positive lines...

But seeing that collective trust for a nameless stranger who wasn’t even present was every bit as nourishing as the brown rice will be...


5 comments:

Dalene said...

A Perfect Moment In Time. Beautiful.

ted said...

As a fellow part-time rice farmer, I appreciate the wisdom.
As a fellow full-time human, I appreciate the beauty...

Tabor said...

I would like to know what the definition for organic is in Japan. I sat through several discussions when USDA was trying to come to a consensus on this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, RB. It's been two years now since I last polished my own rice (not organic, but from Noto).

Aaah...

CNT

Robert Brady said...

And you not only get your rice polished, you get a brief agricultural seminar as well...