Rice is probably the most consumed type of grain in the world today, and research has shown that more than six billion of people eat rice around the world. In fact, studies have shown that the average person eats at least 300 hundred pounds of rice in one year, internationally speaking. And the consumption level of rice is even higher in countries where it is actually harvested.
Naturally, in various cultures within Asia, 90 percent of the citizens eat rice on a daily basis. In China, rice is a staple which is consumed as often as three times a day.
What many people do not realize, however, is that – consumption aside — rice also plays a significant part in many cultural ceremonies and celebrations. The most prevalent example is at wedding ceremonies. When thrown on the bride and groom, rice is said to bring good luck to the newly married couple. In fact, rice is so popular, that some individuals have paid homage to it through songs and poetry.
There does seem to be a debate as to where rice originated. Many believe it came from India. But it appears to be in Thailand that the first rice was discovered in 4000 BC. Rice is a type of grass that looks similar to a common weed. It grows in areas that endure heavy rainfall or floods, upland areas and locations that are well-irrigated.
Interestingly enough, the region in which rice is harvested can determine the types of rice produced. For instance, rice grown in irrigated areas is grown in fields in which a consistent a water supply exists. Individuals throughout the world benefit from rice grown in flood-prone environments like Asia. These environments can produce three types of rice, which include “deep water” (which is grown at a depth of more than 60 centimeters), “floating” and “tidal wetland” forms. Many people don’t realize that rice can grow while submerged in water and reach two to five feet in height.
The process from which the rice grass journeys to our grocery shelves is actually quite extensive. It starts with the grain, which is extracted from the plants’ leaf blades. Once the grain (which is emerald green in color) ripens to a rich golden yellow color, it is placed in the sun to dry. It then goes through a milling process where it gets to a white, shiny color. The average rice crop can take up to 200 days to mature – yet the breeding method can take as long as 10 years.
One of the reasons why rice is so adored internationally is that it is easy to prepare, it’s inexpensive, and it possesses significant nutritional attributes. It can be easily prepared by boiling in water for 15 minutes. Yet it can also be baked, steamed and fried for different taste sensations. Alternatively, some individuals prefer to eat their rice raw while mixed with other ingredients.
More than that, rice is easily-digestible, high in carbohydrates and low on sodium. Many vitamins, minerals and proteins are also found in rice. Rice also comes many different varieties. In fact, more than 120,000 different types of rice are grown around the world! Examples include Basmati – which is aromatic in smell and is grown in both India and Pakistan – and glutinous rice, which is a sticky, yet sweet rice typically used for dessert. Brown rice is another example — which has a nutty taste to it – while Jasmine rice is pleasantly aromatic and grows only in Thailand.
Whatever your particular preference may be, rice has become a staple which will likely remain with us for many years to come.