6 year old Gedhun stared down at his dinner plate. A mix of spicy lentils and rice filled a small metal bowl. Next to the bowl was hasta roti, a Nepalese version of fried bread made into circles resembling the shape of onion rings. Before taking his meal he reflected on how hard his family worked to be able to eat like this.
The family’s semi-dwarf wheat crops, which produced over 400 kilograms of harvest each year, provided the flour to make the roti. The lentils were grown in 13 of the family’s 35 farming patches terraced into the southern facing portion of their land near Chusul, Tibet. Gedhun’s family grew 4 types of lentils: green, brown, yellow and red. They had an agreement with their closest neighbor, Chokey, to barter a portion of their brown lentil crop for some of Chokey’s rice harvest.
After each rice harvest Gedhun’s 2 older brothers would carry sacks of lentils to Chokey’s home almost 6 kilometers down the wide path. They would return with sacks of recently harvested rice. The brothers would spread the rice on the family’s roof to dry in the sun. It was their job to make certain that the rice was dried perfectly. If it wasn’t done correctly it was an invitation for insects and mold to spoil the rice. All the hard work of growing it in the first place would be wasted.
Rice needs a consistent water supply to grow. Lentils are very drought resistant. Gedhun’s grandfather had figured this out a long time ago. That’s why the family had set aside almost a third of their farming area for growing lentils. His grandfather had also figured out that being an expert in drying rice was a huge asset and taught Gedhun’s 2 older brothers how to do it. They were quickly becoming experts at a young age. Harvested rice had a value. It was traded for lentils. Perfectly dried rice had had even more value as it could be stored and used later.
Gedhun was grateful for the food before him and he gave thanks.