Duan Family's Self-Sustaining Lifestyle

The Dinner

Around the table, there is laughter and talk as the family share the news of the last two weeks. They drink some local beer, which costs about 25 cents a bottle. Although proper custom dictates that one should focus on the meal and not talk, it is hard to follow such traditions when the family only gathers every other week and don't have much time to catch up.

However, one Chinese tradition that is strictly followed is that everyone must finish all the food in his or her rice bowl.

"Li li jie xin ku," one of Mr. Duan's sons jokingly reminds his wife.

"Li li jie xin ku" is a line from a famous Tang-style poem, "Min Nong," or "Compassion for the Farmer." The poem describes the hardships that a rice farmer must go through in order to harvest the rice that will end up in the rice bowls of people around China. To leave food left in one's rice bowl is very rude, for not only is it wasteful, but it is also disrespectful to the farmers who toiled in the fields to bring such foods to one's rice bowl.

As Mr. Duan stated, "A grain of rice is a drop of sweat." No sweat was wasted on this meal, as all the rice bowls were emptied to satisfaction.

Most Western families would pass around sweet desserts as a finale to their dinner, but Chinese customs are a bit different.

"Sugar is a killer," declared Mr. Duan. "Sugar is the most harmful to the human body, so we eat as little of it as possible."

Instead, a watermelon from their own fields is sliced up and passed around.

"Watermelon is better, because it acts like a beverage as well. We don't need to drink water because of the water content," Mrs. Guan explained.

Indeed, on a summer evening in the countryside, there is no sweeter ending than gathering of family and a slice of watermelon.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5377882. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5377882. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5377882. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5377882. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5377882.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Sabrina Allen is shown in this photo provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
PHOTO: Adam Sandler arrives at the premiere of Men, Women & Children at The Directors Guild of America, Sept. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Photo
Lovable Panda Triplets Get Named
ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
PHOTO: Video recorded Sept. 21, 2014 in Okanogan County, Wash. shows a black bear scratching its back against a tree.
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife