News on the radio this morning about how the rains have destroyed the rice harvest this year for many farmers in Japan.Jumping to conclusions. And as it turned out, the price only went up about 10% for a few months, and now it's back down to normal.
I don't really listen, so I didn't catch that the problem is the mudslides, not just the water content. So I was thinking, I hope they don't just throw it away, just because it isn't going to be high grade race. We're going to need all the rice we can get this year.
However, I have somewhat of reason to jump, when it comes to throwing food away in Japan. Some years ago, when I lived out in the country in the middle of Hyougo Prefecture, my wife and I were out for a walk and saw a wheat field burning. We were naturally worried, but when we got close, we saw that the farmer was watching it burn, keeping the burn under control.
We asked whether we could help try to put the fire out or something, and he said, no, he had just made a mistake in planting the crop and had to clear his field. It was some sort of 麦 ("mugi" == "wheat", but probably barley), intended for making beer or some other kind of alcoholic beverage.
The mistake? The stalk was too short for the powered (mini-) harvesters he had available. (Should put a picture of one of those miniharvesters up.)
I was shocked. Aghast, really, although probably too polite to show more than disappointment. One of the few things I physically miss in Japan is wheat. There just is not enough, and, what there is, usually has most or all of the germ ground off.
Think of your favorite American brand of starch mislabeled bread.
Well, okay, only about half the bread in Japan is really that bad, but good, whole grain bread is hard to come by. What they think of when I ask for whole grain is the commercial stuff you buy in the States that is basically white bread with about 10% whole flour and cracked wheat kernels added, that usually tastes slightly like cheap vinegar.
Anyway, my Japanese at the time was not up to making the kind of request I wanted to make, and it was a bit too late, anyway. It would have been an awful burden to him to have him stop the burn in a corner of the field so I could come back and harvest a bit of it by hand. But I really was feeling mixed feelings. Even just ten pounds of fresh (unpearled) barley would have been wonderful.