THE ONE (DRINKING) STRAW REVOLUTION ! (La révolution d’un brin de paille – pour boire !)

This article is in English, so that students can read it and answer to Kiki, who will be really happy to get your ideas about her project!

Kiki, amazing woman traveller – she left Germany 12 years ago – is passionate about soil and sowing innovative projects everywhere she goes. She wants to create a little business to make people drink from natural straws in India.

Straw is used for a lot of things in farming – but who remembers one old purpose of straw: to drink! « In the modern world, until 1920 rye and wheat straw were commonly used to drink. From 1920 till 1960 paper straws were commonly used, then widely replaced by plastic in the 1960’s, explains Kiki. Every country grows wheat, a huge quantity of material is available ».

In this little interview Kiki explains the straw project:

« To meet our goal to provide a drinking straw that will be widely accepted, they should have measurements of 215mm x 4-10mm, to be recognized widely as a drinking straw, add Kiki.The product is simple to produce. It is a byproduct of wheat cultivation. It can create a new market and additional income for farmers. We do not plan to export this product, as nearly every country has wheat fields »

Here further research that Kiki provides :

> The manufacturing process, according to The Small Grainsby Mark Alfred Carleton
After bleaching, the straws are assorted by hand, each individual stalk being examined, and the imperfect ones removed,“Carleton explained. “They are then cut, the five lower joints only being utilized for drinking purposes. The sheaths are then removed, and the straw washed and bound into bundles ready for the market.”The rye straw, while the first widely used variety of drinking straw, had some significant problems—including that the straws affected the taste of the drink and that they had a tendency to disintegrate into the beverage, leaving sediment at the bottom of the drink »

> Today we find, that if the sterilization process does not involve bleaching, the straw has a good ability to withstand all tested drinks without dissolving, turning mushy or leaching taste.
The tested drinks were beverages up to 40% Alcohol Content. Fizzy Sodas and boiling water.
I mention the « USA, FDA approved » because it is part of the things we learned so far, and might be useful.

> Across Cultures different materials are used to sip up beverages. Ancient Egyptians drank their beers 7000 years ago with Gold, Copper and Reed Straws.The ancient Sumerians used also Lapislazuli. Until today the South american Drink Mate is sipped up with a Straw from Steel, Silver or Bamboo and is called Bombilla.

> Today, bamboo lends itself, but has too high of a price to compete currently. Paper Straw Production still requires glues, and isn’t always made from fast growing resources, and also has still a high price tag.

> As we found out recently, there are already a few producers. Currently there is one company in China (US $ 0.001 – 0.06 per single Straw), one in Germany, one in England and one in USA.

Questions to think about:

  • What are all the uses of straw?
  • Why Kiki’s project fits with agroecology?
  • Can you find, in your country, a wheat variety suitable for Kiki’s project?
  • What must be the farmers’ practices to have a suitable straw?

 Practice / get your hands dirty:

– Try to create a drinking straw project (including technical aspects, communication with consumers…) with a farm – it can be your farm, your school farm or any other farm. If you manage, please make a video and send it to Kiki and to Les Agron’Hommes project !

Some of the sources:

To contact Kiki :

Kiki Müller
WhattApp: +1 310 846 7399

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