It takes a village…

It takes a whole village. Not only to raise one child, but also to grow rice. It’s very labor and time intensive. A rice field is an eco system in its own right. It sustains many different life forms: from reptiles (eels, worms, snakes) to fowl (ducks, chicken, birds) to animals (cows, pigs, humans). Each plays a different and important role in the cycle. All cooperate and work together to ultimately keep everyone in the cycle fed and alive. 3-6 months after the seeds are planted (depending on the kind of rice), the top part of the plant, which contains the seeds, is cut off. The village women work together separating the seeds from the stalks, spreading the seeds out in the sun to dry, milling to remove the hulls, then distributing, storing, selling, cooking and eating the delicious fruit of their hard labor. In the meantime, the rice fields remain constantly flooded with water. Worms, eels and snakes live in the soil and help aerate it. After the harvest, the ducks are let loose in the fields to eat the leftover grains and harmful bugs as well as fertilize the soil with their poop. Before the new crop is planted, cows are used to plow and fertilize. Some people use plowing machinery, which is faster but it kills the eels and breaks down the seeds. Rice is the main staple in South East Asia and most families in the countryside have their own rice fields. Unfortunately, many in popular touristy areas are “paving paradise and putting up parking lots”*. Villas and resorts are rapidly replacing the rice fields, which are, ironically, the main tourist attraction. Tourist money is easier, plentiful, less labor, no community cooperation necessary. The kids get their electronic gadgets, wear glasses and get health problems. Isolation, separation and fear set in and society becomes “westernized”. Who needs to eat when they’ve got the expensive toys? GMO foods will do just fine…we all know how that story goes. “Don’t it always seem to go…That you don’t know what you’ve got…’Till it’s gone”?*

* From Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi”

#travel #rice #indonesia #bali #unconditionallove #westandinlove

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