It wasn’t until the end of April that the much-awaited Spring rain finally arrived at Tainan. For someone like me, who grew up in Hong Kong, I am definitely not familiar with water shortages, not to mention water scarcity for agriculture and even dried up ponds. A few days ago, I went wheat-harvesting with some of my young girlfriends outside Tainan City. Because of the recent drought, the wheat was a bit malnourished. At first, the farmer wanted to let the wheat wither naturally and then turn them into nutrients for the land. But my friends who work in the neighbourhood thought they could do something with the wheat, and that’s how the harvest came to be.
It was quite an easy job except for the constant bending over. The soil was dry because of the water scarcity and we didn’t need to use the hand sickles to cut the crops. With just a gentle pull by the hand, the entire branch of wheat was uprooted, and it made me feel more like I was weeding instead of harvesting. To get rid of the soil attached to the root, we grabbed a handful of wheat in both of our hands and beat the two bundles against each other. The bundles would then be put aside, and when there were enough little bundles, they would be tied into sheaves. At the end of the day, we managed to produce twenty sheaves.
It was my first intimate encounter with wheat harvesting, but we weren’t taking them from the field and grinding them into flour because they were a bit malnourished and not of the best quality due to the water scarcity. Instead, we used the wheat to make drinking straws.
“Wheat has a hollow stalk. It doesn’t need much water to grow and has a surface layer that does not allow moisture to adhere to it easily. Reeds and pampas grass also have surface layers like that. As wheat is a plant, it is harmless to the human body. “ Wheat drinking straws can even be washed and air-dried for reuse,” explained one of my girlfriends who studies natural fibers. She is also a fan of products that do not go through mechanical processing, decomposition or restructure. Compared to those made of stainless steel and glass, the wheat drinking straw is more environmentally friendly and natural.