There are many plant species, but only a few that feed us humans every day. One of the most important of these is rice. Nearly 500 million tons of the grain are grown, harvested and sold every year. The lion’s share of 90 percent of this amount comes from Asia. The largest producers there are China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Thailand. Rice is also grown in Africa and South America. Rice is even grown in the United States and Europe.
Reis’ triumphant advance: where does it come from?
Rice has been known to man as a food plant for around 12,000 years. According to Chinese scientists, it has been bred for 9,400 years. The plant finally found its way to Europe through the Moors. These North African Berber tribes, together with the Arabs, conquered the Iberian Peninsula in 711. So the rice, from Mesopotamia, shaped by the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris (today’s border area between Iran and Iraq), finally reached today’s Portugal and Spain.
Did you know, by the way, that wild or brown rice, not to be confused with black rice, is not a wild archetype of rice at all? Rather, it is another genus of sweet grass that has always grown in North America and has already been used by the indigenous population there.
A water-loving grass that has nourished people for 12,000 years
Rice is a sweet grass that can grow up to two meters high. The plant pollinates itself and is usually cultivated on so-called terraces on mountain slopes. These are flooded through pipes, channels and trenches so that they are evenly and permanently under water. This creates a muddy and heavily watered soil as the perfect habitat for the rice plants. The high water level prevents weed growth and pests are also kept away.
How is rice grown?
Rice cultivation is still mostly manual work. Before sowing, the soil is usually plowed with water buffalo. Harvesting is usually done by hand and is possible up to three times a year, depending on the variety and conditions. The rice terraces are then drained before harvest.
Dry and industrial cultivation is also possible. This is mainly used in Europe and the USA, but is less profitable. The sowing is done by machines and in the USA sometimes even by dropping the seeds by plane. The harvest is brought in with a combine harvester but you can also know about the rice reaper machine price in india.
How does rice cultivation affect the climate?
A large amount of methane is produced in classic wet cultivation. This gas is 25 times more harmful to the climate than C02. It arises from the utilization of plant residues by microorganisms. The use of pesticides in rice cultivation also has an impact on the ecological balance. This should be very high and keep increasing, so that large amounts of water are often contaminated. The consumption of water is also enormous when growing rice. Between 3,000 and 5,000 liters of water are required per kilogram of rice. Even if the plant is now grown in Europe and the countries where it is grown export it, the demand is far from being covered, so that the transport routes from Asia to Germany also have to be taken into account in the climate balance.
Nutrients in rice and what parboiled rice is all about
Before the rice ends up on our shelves, it is first threshed after the harvest. The grinding follows. The husks surrounding the rice grain and the silver skin are removed. The problem is that the silver skin contains most of the minerals. Through the process of parboiling, i.e. precooking under pressure, these minerals can be pressed into the grain and largely preserved. Parboiled rice is therefore considered healthier. Without this process, rice contains only starch.
So-called whole grain rice, which still has the silver skin, is also significantly richer in nutrients. However, recent tests have shown that the rice grain also contains fertilizer and pesticide residues. However, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, some of these toxins can be removed from the rice by washing it thoroughly.
How to properly store rice
In order for rice to last a long time, there are a few things to consider when storing it. It has to be stored in a dry place because it strongly attracts moisture. That is why it was often added to other products in the past to keep them dry. How strongly the grain draws water is also shown by the recommendation to put a wet cell phone in a closed can with rice grains to get the moisture out of the device.
Rice is best stored in a dark, cool and airtight place and can be kept for one to three years, depending on the variety. Once cooked, it should be stored in the refrigerator.
Cultural and touristic importance of rice
The Chinese proverb “If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk,” shows that rice plays an important role in nutrition in many countries. If you want to be happy for three days, get married. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, then eat rice every day. ”
In addition to its important function as a staple food for around half of the world’s population, rice also has a cultural function. Rice grains are thrown at the bride and groom to wish them luck and fortune for the next phase of life together. As a symbol of fertility, pelting should also ensure a large marriage.
Rice is also of touristic importance. The rice terraces of Banaue and other rice terraces in the Philippines have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and attract many people every year.
For sushi, paella or as a side dish? Choose the right rice depending on the dish
Not every type of rice is suitable for every dish. For sushi, for example, you need short-grain rice that is explicitly designated as sushi rice. This is the only way to create a compact mass for shaping sushi. The Bomba rice variety is particularly suitable for paella, as it absorbs the liquid with its aromas. There are also special varieties for risotto.
Basmati rice, on the other hand, is the all-rounder. It is suitable both as a side dish and as a basis for curries, dals and rice pans. Jasmine rice is also versatile and is also used for curries. Both varieties are suitable for Nasi Goreng or Jambalaya. The firm varieties of red and black rice are suitable as a crouton substitute in salads and give it a fresh crunch.