Wheat Watch: This Is About Irrigation Not The Crop Being Grown
AN interesting little report trying to insist that people who grow rice are more social, more cooperative, than people who grow wheat. Unfortunately, while the phenomenon they describe might well be true they’ve not quite ascribed it to the correct cause. It’s not the crop being grown that makes the difference but the method of growing the crop:
Scientists have long wondered why the U.S. and Europe are so culturally different to China and other countries in Eastern Asia.
Now one study claims the answer lies in an unexpected area: the different farming methods used by people living in the East and West.
While Westerners are known for their individualism and analytical thinking, eastern culture tends to be interdependent and holistic, the study claims.
They go on to say that wheat growing depends upon rainfall thus people can be largely independent. But rice farming depends upon water management and irrigation and thus requires that people be more cooperative and social.
All of which might well be true but there’s a great deal of earlier research that points out that it’s not the crop being grown that causes it, it’s the water management that does. And the thing is we’ve seen areas in the past which grew wheat (and rye) using methods of irrigation and river water management. Egypt and the management of the flooding of the Nile, The Tigres/Euphrates region and the irrigation canals. All of these led to, just as we often talk about Southern China in the same way, “water empires”. The water management system required a bureaucracy and the either forced or voluntary cooperation of all of the people to keep the system running.
It’s not the crop itself at issue here, it’s the water management, the method by which farming is undertaken.