Optimum Utilization of Wheat Crackers

(Nambu, Aomori, Japan)

In the northern part of Japan, there is a town called Nambu. One of the specialties of the region is Nambu Sembei or wheat crackers. The crackers are made of wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and water. They taste simple, but they are delicious. Local people have enjoyed the crackers for a long time in various ways. They eat them as a snack during a break while they do agricultural work, or cut them into pieces and put them into soup, which is called Sembei Jiru. But is that all there is for the local people to do with Nambu Sembei?

Nambu Sembei

<Nambu Sembei (Wheat Crackers)>
(Traditional Local Food in Nambu)

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They make Nambu Sembei by kneading wheat flour added with water, salt, and baking soda, and then putting the dough into molds. Look at the molded pan below. You can see white fringes coming out from the molds. If you were the woman working there, what would you do with those fringes? Are you going to throw them away as garbage or give them to the chickens in your garden?
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The family running the business is selling not only the crackers but also the fringes. After the crackers are baked, the fringes are separated from the crackers and put into plastic bags. Since the family is a member of the most flourishing local market in the community, they sell both fringes and crackers there. On weekdays, about 100 bags of fringes are sold, while only 30 bags of crackers are sold. On Sunday, as for the fringes, it reaches 200 bags.

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Local people like the fringes better than the round-shaped crackers because they are chewier. They love the chewy texture of the fringes. Among the local people, the fringes are more popular than the round-shaped crackers. Amazing! This is a wonderful example of optimum utilization of resources. If you look around in your house, garden, and community, you might be able to find something marketable whose value you are not aware of yet.