Bamboo is a very versatile plant. Though it is typically thought of a tree in the sense that it is woody and used in construction, bamboo is actually a grass. This is why it is very fast to grow, doesn’t need as much water, and is lightweight, as the center of bamboo can be hollow or less dense than its woody exterior. Yet is quite strong, hence its use in construction. But bamboo can also be eaten. The edible portions of bamboo are known as bamboo shoots, which are new growths of bamboo (culms; the visible stems you see above ground) that form underground from the rhizome (an underground bamboo stem in which all bamboo culms sprout from).
So, given that bamboo has many uses and needs less water, it comes as no surprise that one farmer family, May and Sam Her, has decided to start a giant bamboo farm in the drought stricken Central Valley. The farm is located near Easton, a town just south of Fresno alongside the 41. It will be two years before the bamboo yields shoots for restaurants and stores, and 3-5 years before bamboo culms are big enough for construction purposes. Big Bamboo Energy! I can certainly say that I do love me some bamboo soup, of which I’ve had the pleasure of having for free, courtesy of my Laotian family.